Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Fabulously Absolute SNP



True Story

A couple of weeks ago I had a cordial chat over coffee with someone who was elected as an SNP MP.

They started by flattering me:  I was clearly a bright and decent guy and during the referendum I had been the only proper challenge on the numbers.

I smiled and thanked them.

They suggested we probably agree about more than we disagree about when it comes to the challenges and opportunities that Scottish businesses face.

I sipped my latte.

They wanted to talk about how Scotland moves forward post-indyref, to seek common ground because we all just want what's best for Scotland.

I put down my cup.

I suggested that it might be difficult to find common ground. I offered that I can contemplate that independence might be the right answer for Scotland, but I'd need to know that they could contemplate that it might not.

I promise this is an accurate description of the exchange that followed:
Oh I'm not an absolutist about these things, I just want what's best for Scotland.
But don't you believe that whatever the circumstances, whatever the economic downsides, however much pain it might cause, independence has to be the right answer? 
Oh yes, absolutely. 



Absolutely. Isn't that just fabulous?

Of course we carried on with our chat, but in truth there was really nowhere we could go from there.

This is the problem: for many SNP supporters it's a self-evident truth that independence for Scotland is the right answer. If there's a choice to be made between "what's best for Scotland" and independence, independence wins every time. Absolutely.

Of course they avoid admitting this (even to themselves) through the simple expedient of never even contemplating the possibility that "what's best for Scotland" and "independence" might be mutually incompatible.

This absolutist position was famously codified in the SNP's constitution;

Just the two aims there: independence first, furtherance of all Scottish interests second.

In what might have been a below-the-radar clause 2(a) moment, I notice that when the SNP website was recently relaunched their constitution appears to have been changed. Quite remarkably it now takes the form of a first-person statement from Nicola Sturgeon. It seems Nicola now is the SNP. Here's what she says:
My vision is of a successful Scotland which governs itself, taking its place on the world stage alongside other independent nations. The SNP remains committed to Scottish independence as we believe that it is the only way to create a socially just, progressive and successful country.
It's a subtle change of emphasis but the absolute dogmatic insistence that independence "is the only way" remains - and therein lies the rub for any hope of reasoned political debate.

Without getting into some Nietzschean argument about the existence of shared moral absolutes, it's probably fair to say that most people want the same things (like justice, fairness, equality and prosperity) but disagree about the best way to get there. The problem is you can't have a debate about the best way to get there with someone who's already bought a non-refundable ticket.

Many SNP supporters protest that they're not nationalists whilst simultaneously branding those who disagree with them as unionists. To contemplate that others may be more open-minded - that others may have reasoned their way to a conclusion, may be willing to consider a variety of possible answers - would require them to admit to themselves that their minds are closed. The easier way out is to assume that those who disagree with them must be the mirror-image of themselves: if you don't think Scottish independence is the right answer it must be because you're a dogmatic unionist.

At a personal level I experience this when I'm branded as "a unionist blogger". I'm not a unionist blogger because I'm not dogmatically opposed to independence, I don't start from that position and work my way back. That means my approach is in stark contrast to those nationalist bloggers and campaigners who use the term unionist to try and create a perception of equivalence. What I think they're really saying is: look, you know we'd make up any old shit to sell the cause of independence, so you can safely assume they're doing the same and ignore anything they say.

It's revealing that the only caveat Nicola Sturgeon has placed on another referendum taking place is popular support. Nothing to do with - for example - the economic conditions or the practical financial implications of independence. To introduce those concepts would be to admit that there may be logically sound economic reasons for staying in the UK, reasons that best serve the interests of the Scottish people - she's constitutionally prohibited from admitting that possibility. That, I'm sorry to say, makes the SNP a difficult party to trust.

So if I sometimes slip into the trap of "SNP bad", that's why. I want to be able to look at specific initiatives taken by the SNP and assess them on their own merits. Of course there are good people within the SNP and some of their policies will be sensible, will succeed in delivering good outcomes. I don't want to find myself wishing the SNP screw up policing, health or education because in doing so they damage peoples' lives.

But I can't constructively engage with a party that I can't trust, a party that is absolutely committed to independence at any price.



47 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've nailed it, Kev: I suspect most Scots want, in a UK context at least, a "Scotland-first" mindset from their representatives. And, looking around the whole UK, who doesn't want people who will look after and reflect their interests? Most SNP voters have so far bought the idea that the SNP is the only "Scotland-first" party. That would be wrong to believe, even if it was, in a narrow sense, true. But it's not even true in a narrow sense because - as you point out - the SNP is NOT a "Scotland First" party, it is an "Independence First" party.

Now facing proper scrutiny (not least from you, Kevin), their claims of competence are falling away. This incompetence is partly because the only thing that unites them is a belief in Independence, they have no coherent political approach to problems. But it is also down to the fact that their entire purpose, their constitutional duty to their Party, is to manipulate policies and Scots, to govern in a way that will achieve Independence.

So they pursue policies which are not best for Scots, but best for achieving their aim. They divert funds from the NHS to keep one set of interest groups happy; they shift funding around in education to keep other key voter groups happy. And of course, they cannot co-operate with a UK government trying to unite the country.

Scots are wonderfully proud, defiant and contrary. But continuing to vote for the SNP believing this Party will make the country, and their lives better, flies in the face not only of common sense, but now a growing number of facts. The SNP can never be best for a Scotland that is - and has voted to remain - in the UK.

fraserwhyte81 said...

Exactly my thoughts after I read David Clegg's article in which Swinney admits the economic case was the vital factor in the No victory.

Totally agree that you simply cannot trust a party whose over-riding thought is "how will this affect the case for independence" rather than "how will this improve people's lives". It's what Kenny MacAskill called the "wrong decision for the right reasons". Except that the reasons were only right for hardline nationalists.

The "after" doesn't matter to the SNP, it's only getting over the line. As someone said to me, it didn't matter what they said to win because independence offered immunity from everything before.

fraserwhyte81 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Great blog and a very interesting read from a perspective of a pro-EU englishman. Sadly I suspect everything you say about the SNP will prove to be equally true of UKIP and the anti-EU elements in the Tories!

John said...

Even without achieving a second referendum the SNP's intransigent nationalist ideology is still able to do great harm to the interests and welfare of the Scottish people. Only weeks into the new parliament SNP MPs voted for an amendment to the Scotland Bill that would have delivered full fiscal autonomy straight away. The amendment was made by a right wing Tory more or less as a wind-up, but the SNP voted for it on the basis that they'll always vote for Scotland to have more ring-fenced asset-liability management powers no matter what - because as hardened nationalists that is what they must do. This is despite their MPs surely knowing (or if not knowing then being shockingly uninformed) that the immediate imposition of full fiscal autonomy would put Scotland on a very short road to insolvency. (Ironically it took Labour, Lib-Dem and moderate Tories to act in the interests of the Scottish people and vote out the amendment).

The other way it damages Scotland is that the ongoing constitutional uncertainty that the SNP propagates is a dis-incentive for outside investment in Scotland, and dampens economic activity in general (there is starting to be some evidence of this).

The SNP have established a bond of trust with a large section of the Scottish electorate, but it is a bond that is undeserved. It is clear that to the SNP the nationalist project is what matters, not the interests and welfare of the people of Scotland. The error is to adopt the nationalist mantra that the nationalist project and the welfare and interests of the Scottish people are inextricably positively linked. They are not. In fact by some measures - when it comes to removing pan-UK fiscal stabilisers with the imposition of FFA or independence to further the nationalist project - they are negatively correlated.

PaulFrame85 said...

*applauds*

Martin said...

Spot on Kevin. You say succinctly what I've been feeling for so long - we're not 'Unionists', because we're not wedded to the union like, say, some Northern Irish who self-identify as unionists. Like you and many others, I just want what's best.

"I can contemplate that independence might be the right answer for Scotland, but I'd need to know that they could contemplate that it might not" is also an excellent starting point for debate with anyone advocating independence. I suspect it's a very quick way of deciding whether someone is worth engaging in, or ignoring.

Finally, as to you being called a "unionist blogger", I'm afraid you've also been recently called "demented", "a mentalist" and "a nutter". Strangely, the person throwing such insults can only respond with "tl;dr" to your point-by-point demolition of his arguments. This is a person who would normally, and every evening does, start an argument in an empty room.

Strange, that.

Anonymous said...


If we were to have another Indyref tomorrow and this time we asked the question :-

"Should we be an Independent country on the implicit understanding it would make us substantially poorer as a nation than we are just now (Independence is expected to require an increase of every individuals Income tax of 16% on top of what people already pay or 14% cuts in Scottish Government spending(ie deep cuts in welfare support,in the NHS and in Education) or a combination of both with additional billions of pounds raised in the money markets for future generations of Scottish Children and Grandchildren to pay back for the next 150 years until attempts to grow the Scottish Economy to fill the Scottish Spending gap deficit can be re-assessed.
(Note 1: It has to be understood by Voters that this goal cannot by any means be assured and further loans my be required at later dates)
(Note 2: It must be understood by Voters that a YES vote will result in breaking away completely from the UK including from the UK pound and the UK Treasury and there will be a divergence of living standards between Ruk and Scotland)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I wonder what the vote result would then be ?

fork boy said...

When you move away from statistics your blogs tend to become a lot more shaky. Sort of like watching Jeremy Vine on Strictly. You should perhaps stick more to what you are good at.

I have said before, your figures are good, its your conclusions which need the work and this blog seems to be a lot of conclusions arrived at without any kind of careful thought at all.

Richard said...

Interesting piece, thank you.

Presumably the SNP are torn at the moment. Independence today would be fiscal suicide and surely the leadership must recognise that. If the SNP did gain independence then there would be chaos in Scotland. Spending would need to come down massively which, effectively, would mean slashing health and welfare budgets as that's where the big money is spent.

Iain Roberts said...

Great piece, but there's something more going on here. When it comes to the SNP, my problem is not the principle, but the lies.

If the SNP want independence as a matter of principle, that's fine. If they think the intangible rewards of freedom are worth paying a financial price in the short to medium term, that's a principled decision I can respect. I disagree with it, but I can understand where they're coming from.

Some principles are more important than the bank balance of the average citizen. I wouldn't place national independence for Scotland among them, but reasonable people can disagree about these things.

The trouble is, through some combination of self-delusion and devotion to marketing their product, the SNP are unwilling to admit there could possibly be any practical downsides to independence. If Scotland is independent, everything will be for the best in this best of all possible worlds, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool or a traitor. That line gives off the rank aroma of bullshit, which is an important reason why the No side won last year.

Anonymous said...

The thing that I find ludicrous, and not a little sinister, is this notion of Scottish exceptionalism. Look at Ms Sturgeon talking about Scotland taking its place on the 'world stage', and Mr Salmond's abortive victory speech, when he was to have said that the 'eyes of the world' would be on us. No they would not. Because no one else would have been giving a toss about Scotland. Case in point: did anyone who wasn't living there really know what was going on in South Sudan when it became 'independent'? And does anyone know what is going on in it now? Conversely, would anyone in South Sudan have known who Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon were had there been a 'Yes' vote? No. Because they would have been too busy getting on with their lives than worrying about a small, cold country in the far-off North Sea. This idea that the Nationalists have that they will somehow bestride the 'world stage' like giants, while at the same time creating some sort of heaven-on-earth, is quite a frightening glimpse into their fantastical, fanatical, immature brains (and I say this with a fair degree of insight, as I used to think exactly this way myself - until I grew up!).

Edwin Moore said...

Excellent piece thanks Kevin

CMac11 said...

It's a valid point to say that some SNP people don't countenance the prospect of independence ever being a bad thing and that's not particularly healthy.

Having a default distrust of everything the SNP does however is an equally intellectually bankrupt notion. Do any of you honestly believe that the first thing any SNP M(S)P does when they decide on domestic or UK policies regarding Policing or health care or industry is "How can this lead to independence"? If so you are living a very paranoid existence. Most SNP folk could seamlessly fit into Labour or Lib Dems if we were devoid of the constitutional question and for the vast majority of the time they simply do what they think is the right thing to do. They also spend time fighting for the powers to do more of the things they believe in.

As for their poor record being shown up, barring some high profile present issues on health and policing this claim simply doesn't stack up. A couple of very poor examples of police call centre work doesn't negate the fact that crime rates are down under the SNP.

The public are also bright enough to realise that a small 0.7% decrease in real terms spending on the NHS still constitutes protected spending in light of the 10% cut in overall funding we've experienced over the last few years. Incidentally if you compare the performance of the Scottish and English NHS systems since the SNP took office you find that the SNP have managed to oversee great strides toward bridging the rather large performance deficit they inhereted back in 2007 (Look up the Nuffield trust reports if you want to see how). Granted, and by all accounts there doesn't seem to be quite enough beds in the new Glasgow super hospital but I'm quite sure some clever people were tasked with detailed design decisions like this and not the SNP directly so once again a reasonable person might immediately think the SNP are actually making a reasonable fist of their time in government. As their apparent support would attest.

Sheumais said...

Like you Kevin, I cannot see any reason to trust the SNP, but I would go further than that, I cannot respect anyone who supports what the party now represents. You have clearly illustrated the lie that Scotland would automatically prosper if links with the UK government were severed and George Kerevan's conformation fiscal autonomy represented suicide has been far too readily ignored by our simpering media. When you add Sturgeon's global search for a clue as to why education is failing, after the Curriculum for Excellence was rolled-out, Police Scotland, healthcare and a ruinous energy policy, there is little to commend the SNP in government. That they still claim independence is their primary aim, yet EU membership is also to be embraced merely confirms the SNP is just another cynical political movement with no integrity. I see no reason why Scotland could not produce a more competent government than Westminster has offered for some considerable time, but that would require substance and honesty not offered by the SNP.

accyleven said...

Terrific article Kevin.

You are spot on, the nationalists believe independence is the answer, whatever the question, whatever the circumstances, and from that they work out the perceived case.

Unfortunately I can see the division in this country festering for years ahead as there are now perhaps 30% of the country who are blinded by nationalism whatever the reality of the economic and fiscal position

Anonymous said...

The points raised here are absolutely spot on - it's the absolutism of 'Independence is the answer' that makes almost all reasoned debate impossible. For other political parties the problem is that the SNP have done a quite frankly astonishing job of convincing large sections of the population that independence is the answer to their problems. They have found the common ground - in appealing to issues of poverty and democratic disenfranchisement - and now the other parties must attempt to find common ground with an electorate who see root and branch change of the political structure of the nation as the only solution.

The point of absolutism in the 'independence first' mindset was starkly evident in the numerous feeder groups set up during the referendum. BfS, Women for Indy, Academics for Yes and many, many others staked their claims very squarely that they were groups who shared some characteristic and supported independence. They then proceeded to raise some points about why independence might be good for their particular group. One glaring example I recall was Alan Cummings talking about how independence would be good for the Gay community. The problem here is that each of these groups were misrepresenting correlation as causation. They were all supporters of independence (most often Nationalists), who happened to share a characteristic. The characteristic didn't lead them to the conclusion, they just happened to coexist.

I was a (not particularly active) member of the 'Academics Together' campaign group, and the contrast of attitudes was stark. From a purely selfish point-of-view, most of us looked at the funding of Scottish Universities under the SNP, looked at the threats to research grant income (from both UK research councils - where Scots Unis consistently punch above their weight and receive more than we put in in tax, and EU funding), and looked at the scant mentions of science funding in the white paper (mostly bragging about the quality of Scottish units without acknowledging the role of UK funding). On those terms it was obvious that independence would be a disaster for HE and for science research in Scotland. But analysis of the evidence came first. We voted No because independence was a huge threat to our livelihoods, to our ability to benefit the country and wider world, and to a centuries old aspect of Scottish society.

If the SNP had promised fees or tax hikes to pay for research many more scientists might have jumped on board (and probably have lost them far more votes elsewhere). Instead, all they offered was a claim that pan-UK funding would continue and not one academic believed it, if they weren't already a convert to the cause.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the substantive point of this blogpost and think there are lots of areas where there is a conflict between the interests of the Scottish people and a commitment to independence. For instance, the SNP are, essentially, the only Scottish voice in the House of Commons and have control of Holyrood (which, we can assume, will continue after May). So they have influence on getting the best devolution deal for Scotland - but arguably devo-max would be a barrier to independence later on. I'm not suggesting that the SNP will get a bad deal for the Scottish people (which goes against point 2), but it's not really in their interests to gain extra devolved powers (which goes against point 1).

However, there is a slight flaw in this blogpost. The 'Constitution' page linked to isn't the SNP party constitution, but instead the manifesto-like pledge for their vision of constitution reform. It's accessible from the 'Our Vision' menu and whilst it has the url "snp.org/constitution" it follows the same logic as their vision on other areas (i.e., "snp.org/fairness" and 'snp.org/education"). So it's not surprising that the page is written in the first person, nor that it refers solely to independence and political governance rather than policies for the betterment of the population.

There are many important questions to be asked about the relationship between what's best for Scotland and what's best for gaining independence - which needs to be answered by SNP supporters, opponents and neutrals alike. So it's good to see the issue raised here.

Kevin Hague said...

CMac11:

I think I directly address your point in the blog

"So if I sometimes slip into the trap of "SNP bad", that's why. I want to be able to look at specific initiatives taken by the SNP and assess them on their own merits. Of course there are good people within the SNP and some of their policies will be sensible, will succeed in delivering good outcomes. I don't want to find myself wishing the SNP screw up policing, health or education because in doing so they damage peoples' lives."

As for the Nuffield Trust report - I've read it - it's neutral on impact of devolution (although highlights progress made in N East on eg. life-expectancy is not matched in Scotland. It is also clear that this is pre-austerity and your point about "protected" Scottish NHS budget is flawed - per Barnett consequentials whatever happens to rUK NHS spending is transferred to Scotland so the fact that Scottish Spend has lagged English spend is a direct result of different priorities (e.g. that the desire to centralise policing).

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on "making a reasonable fist" of their time in government. Maybe if they'd spent more time governing (eg. focusing on addressing the appalling educational attainment gap between rich and poor) and less time attempting to persuade the electorate to commit economic suicide (by splitting from the rest of the UK just as oil revenues plummet) we'd be ina different place.

Kevin Hague said...

On the specific point of "is that now their constitution" - google it (the old one is no longer avaialble) and search their website and (as you noted) this is what they call their "constitution" on the website

FF said...

I'm afraid "Anonymous" is correct. The entry under "Constitution" refers to the SNP's vision on constitutional matters, not their own party constitution. Their website seems to have gone through a makeover in the past few weeks. It's entirely a sales/recruitment website now and very slick

Kevin Hague said...

FF - fair enough, although it is the only "constitution" linked to from the official SNP website and in the Nav the call it "constitution" and if you google SNP constitution the page (called "constitution") is what you find and the old web link to their constitution pdf shows page not available.

I agree it can't really have changed at the who of La Sturgeon but the website gives every impression it has.

Anybody got a working link to an official page still showing the old one?

FF said...

I notice the "Nicola Signature Range" of clothing is now on discount on the website store. So there you go. You may be absolutist, but it doesn't mean you don't have an eye for a bargain.

FF said...

I know it changed because I was looking up comments that the SNP made previously about Labour's shameful use of PFI, which they of course have since adopted with enthusiasm under the lightly disguised pseudonym of NDP/Scottish Futures Trust. I thought at the time they were clearing out potential hostages.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Kevin. Clear. Concise as ever.

Keep it up.

bucksboy said...

Thoughtful and insightful. So if the message in a blog cannot be defeated then Mr SNP MSP tries to take the heat out of its 'attitude' with kind words. As the years pass by and the prospects for independence wane the more obfuscated and diluted the SNP independence rhetoric will have to become if they wish to remain relevant, for if they cannot deliver independence why put them into power at all. I have been branded a 'brit nat' many times. I don't have a Union flag in my house, have never owned one, and TBH the thought of waving any flag makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. The recent constitutional wrangling has I expect forced many to question what they want for themselves and any family they may have. For myself I simply want to live as part of a population that maximises opportunity, prosperity, and security for the widest number possible and believe a greater not lesser degree of sharing is a good way to achieve this. Far too many lives are blighted by what their postcode is, lets not add to the problem by building more fences. If that makes me a 'brit nat' in the eyes of some then I guess I can live with it.

bucksboy said...

I read truth is often the first casualty in battles such as was had in 2014.

bucksboy said...

CMac11 would you not concede the 'feedback' they are receiving is nothing more nor less than the normal cut and thrust of politics, surely you're not asking they be given a doctors note as they sit atop that greasy pole? Furthermore I would have thought it better for an electorate to judge those elected to serve them on the basis of what they promised they would deliver rather cut them some slack for simply having performed 'average' and not having created an unmitigated disaster? True, they have not entirely messed things up, but the odds suggests they may be given a few more years yet to try.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Everybody has to be objective about these things and be completely rational rather than spout such sentimental nonsense. If, for example, Scotland would be better off as a province of the People's Republic of China, the No voters would surely back it as it would be best for Scotland. That's real patriotism.

water said...


Gordon Brown

September 2014

" rejecting separation would quickly lead to a “new Union”.

This week EVEL has passed thru commons faster than a greyhound 1st bend Shawfield

In the meantime Scotland Bill being amended line by line ,month by month

I vote SNP because I want Home Rule(federal union) not Independence



Anonymous said...

@forkboy, I see you're trotting out the SNP's new script on Kevin: "your figures are good, its your conclusions which need the work and this blog seems to be a lot of conclusions arrived at without any kind of careful thought at all."

So you find no fault with the figures, that's a good start, thank you. Now, based on those good (= accurate, I assume) figures, will you point out exactly where Kevin's conclusions are arrived at without careful thought? Just one single example of a conclusion he's reached apparently at odds with the statistics will do, but please quote as many as you like. No, nothing? I thought not.



Anonymous said...

I very much like your blog and read it a lot. Your encounter with the SNP MP is very revealing. You just can't have a rational debate about independence. All economic arguments are based on circumstances that are subject to change at any moment. Independence, however, is not reversible. So any economic case for independence can only be on shaky ground. You can only honestly believe that independence is a good thing if you don't want to share a government with England *no matter what*.
So a party committed to independence has to be absolute and has to posit independence as a non-negotiable tenet, rather than as a strategy for achieving any political aim (e.g. a fair and just society). In other words, you could read the change of the SNP constitution as a withdrawal from commitment to independence - maybe the MP hadn't yet noticed.

kininvie said...

I think what underpins the 'absolute' committment to independence (at least from my point of view)is the loss of Scotland's ability to create policy in its own interest. I can look at Scotland's history as an independent sovereign state and think - it wasn't all roses by any means, but at least we could play our part on a wider stage and decide where our interests lay. The Union hasn't been all roses either, but contains the added downside that we've lost all ability to carve any distinctive role for ourselves, or indeed to follow policies where our interests may differ from those of Westminster. I cite you immigration in particular (our birth rate now only just exceeds our death rate, after years of being lower).

I don't think you will find many nationalists who wouldn't acknowledge that an independent Scotland may well face hard times. Nothing is guaranteed. The fundamental question which drives Scottish Nationalism however is the question of sovereignty, not economics, and any conversation which does not address this is bound to break down...

I'm utterly relaxed about forging some kind of new relationship with the rest of the UK, but (as Jo Grimond acknowledged) you can't do this without first of all having the power to do it. Lamentably, his clear understanding has been lost by his successors - which is why we are where we are now.

Anonymous said...

Well said that

bucksboy said...

kininvie


"the loss of Scotland's ability to create policy in its own interest"

So there is a sovereignty deficit?


Scotland has one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, apparently.

Scotland presently also has unfettered access to the UK parliament disproportionate to all other UK citizens.

iScotland wants in to the EU club quick time as a new member, so after 'winning' its sovereignty one of the first priorities is to hand over a large slice to another union run even further away than big bad Westminster, one in which each Scottish voice vies with 99 other voices by population (rUK having over 10).


"forging some kind of new relationship with the rest of the UK"

So after the EU has had its way with iScotland's sovereignty it will wield what remains to extract a 'good deal' with rUK?

I have never see a tail wag a dog, so I suspect this would give iScotland another sovereignty haircut.

By the time all the shenanigans are over how much sovereignty will be left?!

Sort of leaves you wondering whether the Union's founding fathers in Scotland were actually onto something.

FS, Edinburgh said...

'Scottish exceptionalism' - indeed. The SNP seem to think that Scots (or in fact just people of any nationality who happen to be living in Scotland) are somehow God's chosen ones, uniquely qualified to run their economy perfectly (we wouldn't be like Greece or Spain or Portugal!).

I remember reading that it wasn't a dreadful thing to be contemplating walking away from our share of the UK national debt because we had no moral responsibility for RBS in the first place - it would simply never have happened in an independent Scotland..

All of the SNP's schtick is about being 'the best small nation'; it is ALL about a desire to lecture other people about how great we are (though precious little thought given to what would actually be so great about what we're doing).

FS said...

"at least we could play our part on a wider stage and decide where our interests lay"... yes, but was that part constructive in any way?, or did it consist of intriguing against the English and desperately trying to make ourselves interesting to the French? Unfortunately, to my mind anyway, this was a dissipation of energies to no constructive gain. What 'use' was Scotland to France, other than as a wasp at England's picnic? (ie an insignificant irritation distracting from getting on with more important matters) To my mind, union with England gives us ALL a platform for engaging constructively on a world (or European, at least) stage.

What were Scots doing during the Industrial Revolution, whining chippily about Bannockburn and Flodden, or setting up their factories and availing themselves of all the opportunities of the empire?

fork boy said...

Whilst I also dislike exceptionalism I have to disagree with your view of how a YES vote would have been recieved on the world stage.

I am a big Redditor, it's a very international with a huge number of users. Even the NO vote made big news and was a talking point for much of the week. I am in no doubt for the period of a YES vote, the eyes of the world would have indeed been upon Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Alan Cumming notice that England legalised gay marriage slightly earlier than Holyrood?

CMac11 said...

"CMac11 would you not concede the 'feedback' they are receiving is nothing more nor less than the normal cut and thrust of politics"

Scrutiny is good. Far too many SNP acolytes are dismissive of it. However, as someone who could probably be described as a loose SNP voter what i'm detecting is the other parties and a number of media figures picking up on 2 or 3 very recent specific issues and running with a concerted narrative that the SNP are literally destroying the fabric of the country. I find this intellectually dishonest, given that the claims don't bear much scrutiny when you scratch below the surface and especially given the fact there is a paucity of alternative policy put forward and indeed many of their policies have been backed by the other parties.

So all in all, yes this is just probably the normal cut and thrust but I'm merely pointing out that SNP are polling at 60% and not all of them, not even a majority probably, are died in the wool Yessers. The SNP (even more so since Nicola took over) have the trust of a lot of people on domestic issues and the reasons fot this are not simply brainwashing as many like to assume.

Nial said...

"If, for example, Scotland would be better off as a province of the People's Republic of China, the No voters would surely back it as it would be best for Scotland. That's real patriotism."


The NO voters would be pointing out the "White Paper" urging the union with the People's Reblic of China is a lot of Braveheat bollocks which was also
economically garbage and which would lead to us having the same standard of living
as a rural member of the People's Republic of China.

Just like last time.

bucksboy said...

"...a concerted narrative that the SNP are literally destroying the fabric of the country. I find this intellectually dishonest..."

Hi CMac11,

For intellectual dishonesty I present this quote from 1999:

the SNP leader described the pound as "a millstone round Scotland's neck"

And this from 2014:

Alex Salmond declares "It is our pound and we're keeping it..."

The SNP do demonstrate how effective their rhetoric can be and the other parties are just playing catchup.

It is fair to say it is more than the usual adversarial battle over policy / ideas at stake and that is why such a dystopian theme can have traction. The perception of how the fabric hangs together has to be personal though.

For example the SNP continue to busy themselves re-wiring that which links Scotland to the UK and inflating that which serves to distance the two, with what seems ideological zeal (such as changing a name from British to Scottish), so if a person believes themselves to be as much part of the UK as part of Scotland (no matter what the balance sheet says) I expect they would be sympathetic to this idea of part of their life being under siege, and less so otherwise. Would others view the loss of local control over certain public services as a significant change to their lives. Only they can say.

However most reasonable people would know they would only have to spend a few hours in the wrong locations in a place like Syria to appreciate how little of the fabric of the land mass on the map known as Scotland was genuinely at risk.

Anonymous said...

As a nationalist who would take a hit for independence (something I'll not deny), I'd frankly take you more seriously if - as a neutral, like you claim - you'd spent half the time, a quarter of the time... even an eighth of the time you'd spent trawling through SNP or Yes Scotland predictions and figures to focus on the mis-deeds that occur outside of Holyrood. As someone you blocked for simply disagreeing with you on twitter (during your claims that 'nats hacked your site') I did express the same opinion as this and got very short shrift from you for it.

To me, that's not the actions of a neutral who has approached the stats and analysed them, but more someone who started that way and once they started leaning towards No has become (and I hate to use the word as I feel it's far too strong for context) radicalised by the unfriendly opposition you faced.

Either way, you're entrenched on one side now - whether you'll admit it or not, but that's not really anything to fuss over.

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous (of course, always with the "anonymous") - please show me where I said (your quote marks) "Nats hacked my site"

As for blocking - I block people if they are persistently and (in my opinion) intentionally obtuse, if they're simply abusive or if they simply refuse to (or are intellectually unable to) engage in a logically reasoned debate. As you're anonymous I've no idea which of these categories you fall in to.

As for how I spend my time - I react to statements or pronouncements that I see as outrageous. That the SNP appear to be monopolising this at the moment is not something I can be held responsible for. Fwiw I think the Tory tax-credit / NLW policies are outrageous but (unlike the Scottish stuff I focus on) they have been widely and accurately attacked by many commentators - I feel I have little to add.

Anonymous said...

Anon from 10:19 yesterday, actually, Kevin can write about whatever he damn well chooses. His focus on an area that obviously makes you uncomfortable to the exclusion of (almost) everything else doesn't invalidate his conclusions at all. If the SNP had put forward an honest case for independence, not spun the figures, and not sought to drown reality under the tide of nationalist grievance and victimhood they themselves whipped up, then there would have been no need for anyone to point out that their currency of lies, distortions, fallacies and wishful thinking was an unscrupulous betrayal of the Scottish people. As that was not the case, Kevin did the job and I for one am grateful to him. And as the clear will of the Scottish people apparently meant SFA to the SNP, and the referendum did not settle the matter, we are still just as much in need of someone like Kevin to keep pointing out why it was economic stupidity then and, until something substantial changes, remains just as stupid now.

Anonymous said...

One of the most madcap of populist nationalist themes is that once upon a time 'Scots' not English was the language of lowland Scotland. This even features as part of the Dept of Education's website. The trouble is the alleged history is little better than a fairytale. The whole story was exposed as a romantic fantasy as far back as the 1870s by Scottish academic James Murray (founding Ed OED) in his definitive work The Dialect of the southern counties of Scotland. It can be read on-line at
http://archive.org/details/cu31924026538938 Today the idea that 'Scots' was once language distinct from English is yet another silly unhistorical political hobby horse which has been allowed to run wild - to the great disadvantage of Scottish schoolchildren.

Unknown said...

The SNP’s support for a phoney “independence” is based on its desire to lurch leftwards in a way that is impossible while still in a union with England. England is very patriotic and right-wing whilst Scotland is almost exclusively leftwing and socialist.

The SNP freely admit that if they achieve sovereignty for Scotland, they will simply transfer it to the EU based in Brussels – genuine independence is not an SNP policy.

Alex Salmond, in effect still the main boss of the SNP, was a student communist with hard-line leftwing views.

One factor about the SNP that is well hidden is its support for radical Islam.

One of the most powerful individuals within the SNP is Humza Yousaf (pictured below), a Muslim SNP member of the Scottish Parliament.

Prior to his election to the Scottish Parliament in 2011, Yousaf had been a media spokesman for “Islamic Relief”, a charity that has been accused on a number of occasions of being a front group for radical Islamism.

Yousaf was also heavily involved in a community radio station for over a decade and helped organise food parcels for asylum seekers.

His cousin is Osama Saeed, a former Muslim Brotherhood spokesman.

Saeed’s group, the Scottish Islamic Foundation, has been accused in the past of having extremist links.

Yousaf himself is married to Gail Lythgoe, a red-headed Muslim convert.

He recently called for Scotland to take in Palestinian refugees and urged a full arms embargo of the State of Israel.

Given that less than 1% of the Scottish population is Muslim, they are receiving an astonishingly high proportion (around 60%) of Scottish government “equality” grants.

Almost 60 per cent of all grants given out by the “Equality Unit” has gone to just five Muslim groups.

The groups were awarded £1.5 million of public money, dwarfing the £137,500 given to Christian charities and the £110,000 given to Jewish organisations.

web-news71When Conservative MP Philip Hollobone first proposed a law to ban the wearing of burkas in Britain, Alex Salmond was quick to denounce the plan.

In February 2010 it emerged that Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, had written a letter of support on behalf of Abdul Rauf, a Muslim on trial for benefits fraud.

Rauf had defrauded the taxpayer of £80,000 by claiming benefits under false pretenses.

He had previously been convicted, and served jail time, for a similar offence.

Sturgeon, whose job involves appointing all sheriffs and judges in Scotland, asked the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence for Rauf.

With so many signs of pro-Muslim bias in the SNP, it’s worth asking whether the decision to release Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, could have been influenced by this.

Osama Saeed, the SNP’s Muslim extremist candidate and close personal friend of Alex Salmond, supported Megrahi’s release on his blog, arguing: “If he had died in Scotland from cancer it would have done irreparable damage to our reputation not just in Libya and the Muslim world, but beyond.”

Since forming a government in 2007, the SNP has been rocked by four major scandals: the Abdul Rauf affair, Lunchgate, the release of the Lockerbie bomber and the Scottish Islamic Foundation affair.

All four scandals have involved Muslims.

The SNP is equally as repellent on the subject of immigration.

Record numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers have seen Scotland’s population grow to its highest level for three decades, but an SNP spokesman commended Scotland’s soaring immigration numbers, saying: “These are excellent figures.”

It is time the people of Scotland realised the danger in their midst in the form of the SNP, a party that will destroy Scotland forever if it has the chance.

This pernicious danger is wrapping itself in the cloak of patriotism in order to dupe the Scottish people into supporting it.

Few are aware of its true nature as a political movement.