Saturday, 30 August 2014

"A Pathological State"



"It is impossible to be proud of the United Kingdom. [...] It's not possible to be a decent person and vote No, and we shouldn't be ashamed to say that." (Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, addressing a Yes Scotland campaign meeting in St Andrews on August 26th 2014)
If these remarks should happen to offend you, listen carefully to all that the speaker has to say and consult his blog.
"I cannot begin to describe to you the incredible feeling here of renewal and of something like revolt, an upswell from ordinary people taking their own country back. It is astonishing. And never can most of an entire population so quickly have awakened from the propaganda thrall of the mainstream media. Anyone scared that an independent Scotland would still be subservient to a ruling elite should come here and just talk to people. It is the most marvellous and heartening experience imaginable." Click here to read the rest of Craig Murray's blog post, where you will find, incidentally the following reader comment:

"I would say rather, it is not possible to be a decent person and vote NO once you know the facts – there are plenty of decent people who are going to vote NO who will do so because they are either ill-informed or mis-informed. Give people the facts and they change – I've seen it happen."

I would have to say that I agree that that is a fairer (and indeed more diplomatic) statement, but I think that Mr Murray is making the point that this is not the moment for being douce and diplomatic. This is a revolutionary moment:

"There is a movement happening here which is truly revolutionary and feels like nothing I have experienced in my life before. I am deeply moved. If we achieve independence, it truly will be the victory of the people, not the politicians."

Yes Please


As expected, there is still no credible offer of an equitable constitutional settlement for Scotland within the UK state. Too late now, so far as I am concerned, for I have just cast my indyref vote by postal ballot, while the No campaign continues to splutter and sputter and that nice Mr Cameron confesses to feeling nervous about the result, as well he might. It is on a knife edge.
I, on the other hand, am not feeling nervous, because, even if there is a No majority on September 18th, which is looking less likely with each passing day, we shall be voting on Scottish independence again after the Tory/UKIP referendum on the European Union, and we shall overcome, as sure as eggs is eggs, as one might say . . . or maybe better not.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ding Dong


You will no doubt have seen last night's BBC television Scottish independence referendum debate between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and former Labour Chancer of the Chequer Board Alistair Darling of the Bitter Together/Project Fear/Scotland Can't, Shouldn't and Mustn't campaign:

"Alex Salmond bounced back with a powerful performance in tonight's TV debate with Alistair Darling -  just hours before the first indyref postal ballots drop through voters' doors.
[...] the First Minister summoned all his fighting spirit as he defended his currency proposals, warned the Scottish NHS [National Health Service] was under threat from a No vote, and insisted the country would benefit from North Sea oil for decades to come. He also put his opponent on the spot over unpopular welfare reforms and the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde. In a rousing closing statement [...] Mr Salmond said: 'The future of Scotland should be in Scotland's hands. It's about believing we can govern ourselves better than anyone else. We don't need to rise up and be a nation again, we just have to vote to believe in ourselves.' A snap poll, conducted by ICM for the Guardian, suggested the First Minister was the clear winner. According to the online survey he came out on top by 71% to 29%.
[...] he won applause from the audience after telling them he said he was seeking a 'sovereign mandate' from voters for his plan to share the pound. Referring to the negotiations which would follow a Yes vote, he said: 'I go as First Minister to argue what's best for Scotland.  If I were to go and argue for second best that's what I'd get.'" (The Herald, August 26th 2014)
Incisive and potent advocacy in the face of interminable anglo-waffle.

I trust you noticed the following incisive interventions from the audience in the debating hall:

For those of you who are looking in from overseas (good morning, Moldova) and may therefore be wondering who the anglo-overlord is who is on the receiving end of these pointedly pertinent points, I should perhaps explain that he was the UK minister of finance when the global financial crisis broke in 2007/8. Yes, the ceiling fell in while he was looking after it. He is still a Labour member of the UK parliament, however, and does a bit of apparently lucrative after-dinner speaking in addition to defending the anglo-state against the Scots while awaiting his elevation to the peerage:
"New Labour are just as bad as the Tories. Alistair Darling received £12,000 for one after-dinner speech to Cinven Ltd, a firm which does nothing but benefit from privatization of NHS services. [...] New Labour and Tory MPs are both up to their eyeballs in NHS privatization money." (former UK diplomat Craig Murray, August 12th 2014)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

For Scotland, Europe and the World

Vicent Partal, the editor of the Catalan online media organization VilaWeb, has provided a translation of his latest editorial, on the Scottish independence referendum and its ramifications:
"If the Scots pick the path of independence on September 18th – and this is what's really important – they will have chosen to build a much better country than the one they currently have. After years of devolution to the Scottish Parliament, it is clear that no one can govern Scotland better than the Scots themselves. And now the only thing standing between them and this historic change, this unprecedented decision that would tear down all remaining obstacles, is a slip of paper and a ballot box. If Scotland were independent, it would have the solution to all of the problems its people face in its own hands, without limits or impositions. That would represent a giant step forward. [...]"
To read on click here.
Catalans are looking to Scotland to lead the way. It would be a pity to let them down, to say the least.

"'There is no question that in Spain and elsewhere they are looking very closely at this vote,' says Richard Whitman, an expert on European politics at the University of Kent in England. 'If, for example, an independent Scotland is allowed entry into the European Union in a fairly uncomplicated manner, then that will create an important precedent for Catalonia. [...] Whitman says relatively small states are becoming the norm in Europe, and big nations, such as Germany and France, the exception. He notes that the three Baltic republics, Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus and the Czech and Slovak republics are all recent examples of successful new nations that have thrived in spite of their small sizes. 'These places seem to exercise their sovereignty even within a global context,' Whitman says, 'and that's a powerful message for secession movements looking to emulate their success.'" (USA Today, August 17th 2014)

September 11th: massive Catalan National Day demonstration commemorating the tercentenary of the fall of Barcelona in the War of Spanish Succession and in support of the Catalan self-determination referendum.
November 9th: non-binding Catalan self-determination referendum, if not blocked by Spain.

UPDATE, August 25th

Below is the front page of today's issue of the Catalan newspaper Ara, from which one gathers that the recent non-unanimous endorsement of the Catalan referendum Bill by the Catalan Parliament's Council for Statutory Guarantees (which determines whether legislative proposals are in conformity with the Spanish constitution) is regarded by the Catalan Government as sufficient authority for setting about organizing a referendum but not for defying the expected suspension of the statute by the Constitutional Court in due course.

First Minister Artur Mas (President of the Generalitat) is understood to be endeavouring to persuade the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (whose continuing cooperation he needs) to support a plebiscitary Catalan general election, but its leader, Oriol Junqueras, wants something in return . . . an undertaking to the effect that an electoral pact between the centre-right CiU (Convergence and Union, the governing coalition) and ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) would be conditional upon an understanding that their victory in the election would involve acceptance of the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence.

Mas Offers Junqueras an Agreement on Plan B
If the November 9th referendum is blocked, Artur Mas proposes to hold a plebiscitary Catalan parliamentary general election between December and February and suggests that they form an alliance to contest it together.
The ERC says any such electoral pact would have to be subject to agreement on a unilateral
declaration of independence.

Saturday, 23 August 2014


Do you remember Ian Smith, the prime minister of Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), declaring in the 1960s that black majority rule in that territory would never come about in his lifetime? No? Before your time? Well, try 2006 instead, then. As you more probably remember, in November 2006 opinion polls were indicating that the pro-independence Scottish National Party might win the forthcoming Scottish Parliament general election and that a majority of the Scottish electorate might vote for independence in a referendum:
"A great flurry of opinion polls in recent months has given the strong impression that those who prophesied that Scottish devolution was a fast road to independence were right. Headlines said that not only did the Scots want independence but that the Scottish National Party might win the Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2007 [which in point of fact it did, although not with an overall majority]. [...]
One of the first polls to upset the unionist apple-cart came in November when an ICM survey for the Scotsman reported that 51 per cent of Scots favoured independence, while 39 per cent did not.
Sensational stuff. Yet there are reasons to be wary of this finding, which asks people how they would vote in a referendum on Scottish independence. It is a useful barometer of opinion but is no more an accurate weather forecast than is the position of the indicator on a barometer.
Firstly, we have been here before. In 1998, before the first elections to the new Scottish Parliament, ICM asked the same question six times. Support for independence ranged from 48 to 56 per cent, while opposition ranged from 35 to 44 per cent. But by the time of the election in May 1999 opposition to independence had reached 50 per cent and support had fallen to 38 per cent. Why did that happen? It was because there was an election campaign in which the Labour Party stressed that independence meant divorce, separation, isolation, loneliness and other horrible-sounding things. Labour's message may sound drearily familiar this time around, but it is still likely to have the same effect." (The Scotsman, December 29th 2006)


Hence Project Fear in the present Scottish independence referendum campaign, to which excruciatingly negative strategy former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish has been taking such vocal exception that his fellow nay-sayers have now turned on him, even though he has been striving to make a rather valid and indeed crucial point.
"[...] Another standard poll question is to ask people to choose between three options: an independent Scotland inside the EU; staying inside the UK with a devolved parliament and having no devolved parliament. This has been asked ten times between 1998 and 2005. Support for independence has ranged between 23 and 33 per cent, backing for devolution between 46 and 56 per cent and going back to Westminster rule has attracted between 17 and 22 per cent." (ibid.)
Nevertheless, that nice Mr Cameron saw fit to rule out a third option for the indyref, the devo-max (maximum devolution or full fiscal autonomy) one. So we are back to the simple yes/no scenario which, according to the Scotsman newspaper, was responsible for part of the illustration on the following Scotsman front page:

The Scotsman, November 3rd 2006
While dismissing the ICM poll which came up with majority support for independence, the Scotsman considered that the SNP lead over Labour which it also showed was likely to evaporate in the heat of the coming campaign for the 2007 Scottish Parliament general election, speculating wildly that, even if the SNP lead held, there would probably be an SNP/Lib Dem coalition, which, of course, did not in fact materialize, an SNP minority administration coming into office instead, on the basis of whose impressively competent stewardship of devolved affairs the Scottish National Party went on to win the 2011 general election with a supposedly impossible overall majority, defying expectations again, and proceeded to prepare the ground for the independence referendum which is to take place next month, despite the Scotsman's confident pronouncement in December 2006 that "the most that can be predicted at this stage is that the SNP have a fighting chance of getting into government after next May, but they will be unable to make any moves to achieve independence."
A little less than eight years later here we are about to vote on independence in a plebiscite which excludes the option of devo-max, thus making it difficult for Scottish Unionists to vote No, there being majority support among them now for devo-max, as former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish has been asserting, . . . and making it quite conceivable that the Yes majority that ICM found in November 2006 will pop up again on September 18th, especially with our Henry helping things along by straining every sinew to extract a credible promise of devo-max from the UK political parties and failing, throwing up the interesting possibility that, if he ever does manage to make his mind up, he will set the cat among the pigeons by issuing an eve-of-poll declaration of support for independence. One gathers that the chappie in charge of Project Fear, one Blair McDougall, has predicted that a declaration will come as soon as next Monday:

But no, Henry McLeish seems intent upon maintaining his position and pressing the anglo-parties on devo-max until the pips squeak, I venture to suggest. Actually, they seem to be squeaking already. I see that that nice Mr McDougall, apparently certain that a thunderous McLeish conversion to Yes is on the cards, has tweeted that he agrees that the former anglo-unionist First Minister who goes about asking awkward questions is just an "underwhelming little man who never really got gravitas". Charming. To which someone has responded as follows (not me):
"Pretty much sums up the phantasmagorical shiteness of your campaign if a former Labour First Minister is moving to Yes. Cheers!"
And to think that in 2006 the Scotsman proclaimed that "the day that Scotland says goodbye to Britain is still a long way off". Well, if a week is a long time in politics, eight years must be too, I suppose. So they got that right at least.