A few reflections on the Scottish Referendum

September 20, 2014

The Scottish Referendum ended with a win for the Better Together campaign and devastation for the devolutionists and its leader Alex Salmond. Here are a few unedited impressions of the end-game

September 18th 2014

An emotional roller-coaster of a final day of campaigning and a night waiting as the results were counted. The process is hailed as a template for democratic elections. The commitment was impressive, the over ninety percent registration, over eighty percent turn-out.

Hope and denial

Hope in bucketfuls from the Independent Scotland ranks. For that dreamed-for freedom.

Freedom from the auld enemy, reborn as ‘the politicians in Whitehall’. Denial in bucketfuls, too. Denial that Scottish leaders were of a similar moral standing and competence to Whitehall’s toffs and scoundrels. The anger of one old-school socialist brought memories of an earlier age of fire-breathing working-class Scottish Union leaders with a long rehearsed loathing of his class enemies.

The pain of loss

The expressions of a lost dream in which a free Scotland would have been free from Trident -that was often mentioned. Free from perceived unjust laws imposed from Whitehall. For some, free from fears of what might happen, for example to the NHS [National Health Service].

From under a duvet

A distraught and inconsolable young caller to a phone-in. Upset after campaigning all day, staying up all night. Polls show the Better Together win. More questioning. She is nineteen. Tearful. In bed. I imagine her curled up, foetal position, under a duvet, clutching her I-phone.

Whitehall. It’s politics as usual

Early morning. A prepared statement from David Cameron confirming concessions to Scotland but also to the other constitutive parts of the [still] United Kingdom. Seized on as an electioneering ploy.

The agony of Alex

Alex Salmond, indefatigable leader of the Yes campaign for two years. Final speech had been as confident as ever. Within hours of the result, he announces he will step down as first Minister of the Scottish Parliament. The mask of command had been wearily taken off.

World reaction

Excellent International review from BBC Scotland.

Local reaction

Just heard two Labour politicians in deeply-divided discussion [BBC Radio 5] much easier for the Better Together camp to seek reconciliation. Sad.


It depends what you mean by Independent: what you vote for and what you may get

September 16, 2014

I believeThe six words on the voting slip ask the ‘simple’ question: Should Scotland be an Independent Country? But independence is more a state of mind than a constitutional matter

The map is not the territory

When my local store sells me a copy of The Independent, its electronic screen says I have been sold an Independant. Experience, tells me I have not been sold the wrong product. Or, to use a term from the social sciences, the map is not the territory.

The independence being voted for or against is a concept constructed in the mind of each individual cross-maker. It will turn out to be the concept acted out in the future not just by cross-makers but a wider group of consequential cross-carriers.

I offer a few thoughts from the sidelines and beyond the geographic borders of Scotland.

How to become independent

Believe. Believe you have removed the ties that bind you to a state of dependency. Believe you will be independent fiscally, even if you have restrictions imposed by currency power brokers in London, Frankfurt and New York. Believe you will be independent militarily because you will not share military resources with England or America, who will not seek some compensation for the collateral damage produced through logistic disruption of their nuclear forces. Believe in the revenues accruing from oil both discovered and waiting to be discovered. And that the revenues will be directed through the wisdom of politicians to address the longer term well-being of an aging population.

But above all

But above all, believe you, the individual voter, will be liberated. You will be able to say truthfully ‘I am no longer under the control of a malign or at best uncaring foreign power. I am free and independent.’

And maybe the dream will come true.


The death of Ian Paisley

September 12, 2014

Ian Paisley died today at a time when Unionism, the cause of his political life, faces its most recent challenge in the Scottish Referendum. For decades he was the ‘big man’ of politics in Northern Ireland who was to make a remarkable transition as a supporter of the Good Friday peace process. The perceived change clinching the Northern Ireland peace process symbolized by the handshake with a loathed adversary Martin McGuinness which was to lead to an unlikely and warm working-relationship, and friendship.

In his time, he was as divisive as Margaret Thatcher, and her equal in unshakably rigid beliefs, vehemently expressed. According to friends, the two leaders shared a softer private side, some would say a shadow-self, beneath their blustering public persona.

The mix of charm and menace used to remind me of other physically formidable charismatics such as Tiny Roland and Conrad Black.

To go more deeply

An earlier LWD post looked at the period of the transformation to elder statesman and peace broker.


Baffling speech by David Cameron

February 7, 2014

The Prime Minister made a speech today on Scottish Independence. I was baffled by its strategic intent and execution

I watched and listened this morning [February 7th, 2014] as The Prime Minister gave a heavily trailed speech to a small audience at the London Velodrome. It was intended to urge the citizens of the United Kingdom who could not vote to use their influence on those who could to assist a NO vote in the Scottish referendum next year. [That is to say, he addressed people in Northern Ireland, Wales and England to persuade those living in Scotland to vote NO]

‘The sum is greater than the parts’

The Speech argued for the merits of The United Kingdom as a coherent political unity, so much more than the sum of its parts. It was accidentally a case that could be applied to the EU as well, although I am sure that was not the PM’s subliminal intent.

English cool and Celtic warmth?

It might have been an attempt to rebut rationally the points made by the YES campaign. In content however, the emphasis was on the more emotional point that David Cameron was ethnically [like many living in the UK] a mix of Scottish, English and perhaps a dash of Welsh genes.

The style was a restrained emotionalism if I might risk an oxymoron. Perhaps Anglo-Saxon cool and Celtic heat? The PM appeared uncomfortable about the whole performance. The careful explanation of why it took place in the Velodrome was clunky [Scottish for not terribly convincing, old boy].

Why did I find it baffling?

I just could not make much sense of his intentions or of the execution of the speech. What dilemma might he be seeking to address? Was it the need to reverse apparent gains in the YES vote, in recent polls whatever the political risk? Did his advisers appreciate the dilemma of risking infuriating Scottish voters by the intervention? Was there a concern to find a popular new initiative in difficult political times?

Comments and interpretations welcomed.