Saturday, 23 July 2016

How to make the SNP's task still harder


There is a very respectable argument for Scottish independence that surprisingly is rarely made by supporters.  It goes something like this. We want Scotland to be independent because we want Scotland to be a sovereign independent nation state just like all the others in the world and we don’t care what happens next, because wherever this path takes us, it will be worth it. Historically this is the normal route for places that seek independence.

When the American colonists rebelled against British rule, they had no idea what they would end up with. In the short term it would no doubt have been better for them to have continued living under British rule. These Americans didn’t worry overly much about trade or currency or the difficulties that lay ahead. They were willing to fight a war to gain their independence. They were more than willing to take a risk.


In more modern times I remember when the Baltic States broke away from the Soviet Union. They were in a currency union with the other Soviet Republics. They did most of their trade with the other parts of the USSR. But suddenly there was a mass movement of people joining hands to say they wanted to get out of the USSR. These tiny Baltic States were suddenly independent. They set up their own currencies. They were not part of NATO or the EU. They had no idea when they became independent if they would be able to join. But they didn’t care. I doubt anyone back then made any great promises about the economic prospects of Latvia, Estonia, or Lithuania. Since 1991 they have had some pretty tough times. But they didn’t much care about this when they became independent and I suspect they don’t much care now.


I have made the point before, but it is worth reiterating. This is a very good argument. To an Estonian who wanted independence in 1991, I have no answer. Likewise to a Scot who wants independence come what may, I have no answer. It is perfectly possible for Scotland to become an independent country. If that’s what you want come what may, then go for it.

I disagree, of course, and will do all I can to prevent Scottish independence. But this is not because I particularly feel that Scottish independence long term would be a disaster. An independent Scotland would be at least as prosperous as Estonia, probably much more prosperous. The future has not happened yet. Scotland could become the next Switzerland if it chose the right economic policies. I oppose Scottish independence for the same reason that an American opposes the independence of California. I want my country, the United Kingdom, to remain intact. That’s it. If an independent Scotland were able to give everyone in Scotland gold bars every week I would still oppose Scottish independence.

There is a reason however that the SNP tend not to use the argument that I have outlined. There is no mass movement in Scotland demanding independence. There are people willing to vote for the SNP and even vote for independence, but the situation here is quite different from the Baltic States or even the situation in present day Catalonia. Hundreds of thousands of people are willing to demonstrate for independence in Barcelona. In the Baltic States there were enough people demanding independence that they could join hands right across the three republics. In Scotland there is nothing like this.

There was a free and fair referendum in Scotland and independence lost. Less than two years ago 55% said No. They said No even when they were promised all sorts of nice things by the SNP. If the SNP had instead argued Scotland would go through tough times for a number of years, but it would be worth it, I strongly suspect the No majority would have been greater. The SNP were unable to make the fundamentalist argument for independence, because there are not enough fundamentalist Scottish nationalists in Scotland. My guess is that there still are not.

At the moment quite a lot of Scots are angry because the UK is going to leave the EU. How dare the UK as a whole have a different opinion to Scotland? Some of those angry Scots are people who previously voted No and they are now flirting with the idea of Scottish independence. I think this is short term and transient. The argument as to whether we should be in the EU for most people is a matter of practicalities. Is the UK better off in the EU or not? At the moment we don’t really know, because we haven’t tried leaving yet. We do however know that the UK for centuries wasn’t in the EU and we did well enough. The likelihood is that we will do well enough again. 

Few indeed are the people in Scotland who really have an overwhelmingly emotional attachment to the EU. How many Scots wanted to join the Euro? How many wanted to be part of Schengen? How many wanted the UK to become a part of a United States of Europe. If we all really loved the EU so much why didn’t we sign up to all the EU directives in the same way as Germany or France. Why did we want to opt out of the fundamental projects that were leading the EU to its goal?

I think support for the EU in Scotland is not fundamental at all, rather it is contingent on the idea that our prosperity depends on the EU and also vaguely on the sentiment that being pro EU makes me more internationalist and generally a good sort. This is of course complete rot. Switzerland is one of the most internationalist countries I can think of, yet it isn’t a member of the EU. The EU on the other hand is one of the most corrupt and anti-democratic of organisations. It is directly responsible for poverty in southern Europe. I think if you are a good sort, you should oppose it both for moral and practical reasons. 

It's worth reiterating also that being a good European does not depend on being in the EU. There are 50 European countries only 28 of which are in the EU. It is rather offensive to conflate being European with being in the EU as if those 22 countries were not properly European.

But what happens if it turns out that the UK outside the EU ends up being more prosperous than inside the EU? Given the right economic choices we can turn the UK into a low tax, low regulation free trade hub. The EU might then begin to look like a rather tired protectionist customs union sinking into decline, lurching from one crisis to another with a currency no-one much wants and an inability to come to an agreement about what to do next to sort the mess.  Would Scots still be so desperate to remain in the EU?

If our support in Scotland for the EU is mainly about economics, then under the circumstances of Brexit working well, we clearly ought not to mind that the UK chose to leave. Of course some people still worry about being able to live and work in the EU. My guess is that will continue more or less the same. It isn’t as if it was impossible to live and work in Europe prior to the EU. Moreover it’s obviously in Spain’s interests that Brits continue to spend their money retiring there. On the other hand few indeed are the Scots who either wish to or can work as bus drivers in Warsaw. Polish is rather difficult you know.

For those Pro UK Scots who wish to defend our position within the UK, it is vital to change our mentality. There are advantages and disadvantages to being in the EU. But we are leaving, so let us seize the advantages and minimise the disadvantages. There is quite literally no point whatsoever in continuing to fight the EU referendum. We are going to leave. What we must think about is this. What sort of relationship to the EU makes it easier to keep the UK together and harder for the SNP to make the case for Scottish independence?

I believe it would be in the UK’s best interest to leave the Single Market. We ought not to be a part of EFTA nor the EEA. We ought to trade with the EU in exactly the same sort of way as Japan does or Australia. We should attempt to trade as freely as possible under those circumstances. You don't have to be in the Single Market to trade with it, otherwise we would be unable to buy anything from China.  The EU is still going to want to sell us things, so it is in their interests not to be overly protectionist. But most of our trade is with the rest of the world anyway. We buy more from the EU than we sell. Therefore any tariffs would hurt them more than they would hurt us. We might even end up making a profit.  The saving of the EU membership fee alone would more than compensate us for the amount we might pay in increased tariffs. You wouldn't pay an entry fee to go into Tesco. Why pay one to buy things from the EU? The main advantages for the UK in leaving the EU can only be obtained if we make a clean break. There is absolutely no point going to all the trouble of leaving the EU only to end up being ruled by Brussels anyway.

The huge advantage of going down this route also is that it makes Scottish independence still harder to achieve. The gap then between a UK outside the Single Market and a Scotland inside the EU would be even greater. Scotland would then have a trade relationship with the UK that was no closer than Greece’s. Scotland would not only have left the UK’s internal market, it would also have ceased to be in the same trade bloc as the UK. If the EU applied tariffs to UK exports, Scotland would have to apply them too and vice versa.

The crucial thing in any argument with people who want to contemplate Scottish independence is to concentrate minds. But it is vital that we don’t go down the Project Fear route again. There should be absolutely no exaggerations about Scottish independence. But quietly pointing out the consequences, while at the same time pointing out the great future that the UK has ahead, can win the argument decisively.

The SNP are beginning to admit that Scottish independence would mean some years of difficulty. Quite so. It is becoming obvious that first we would have to set up a new currency and a Scottish Central Bank. It would attempt to peg this currency to the UK pound, but we know from the ERM debacle that pegs can break. If you have a mortgage in UK pounds and the Scottish pound was devalued by 20% your debt would in effect increase by 25%. This is one of the reasons why it has proven so difficult for countries to leave the Euro. Persuading Scottish home owners to take this sort of risk might prove challenging.

In order to join the EU Scotland would have to promise to join the Euro and the Schengen zone. We would then lose the money we get from the UK under the Barnett formula, while at the same time having to pay our subscription to the EU minus the rebate that was negotiated by Margaret Thatcher. We would then have to attempt to cut our deficit of 10% down to 3%, otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed into the EU at all. This would involve both much larger tax rises and spending cuts than Scots have hitherto experienced. It would make Tory austerity look like generosity, which in fact it is. Scotland makes a 15 billion pound loss every year, which is made up by the UK Treasury. This strikes me as rather generous given how insulting many Scots are about Britain. To cease making a loss every person in Scotland would have to pay around three thousand pounds a year. You may think independence is worth it come what may, but I’d rather keep my three thousand pounds thank you.

Meanwhile our trading relationship with our biggest trade partner the UK would cease to be an internal market and we would be no closer to the UK in trade terms than any other country in the world. Whether there would need to be a hard border between Berwick and Gretna is hard to say. But it might be difficult to avoid this if Scotland is in Schengen. The Republic of Ireland at least has an opt out from Schengen which will make it easier for them to maintain an open border with the UK. Scotland might of course be able to obtain all sorts of opt outs too. Then again the Spanish might decide that they really don’t want to encourage secession movements and might block or delay Scotland’s entry into the EU "pour encourager les autres".



At the same time as all of this we would have to set up a new sovereign nation state called Scotland with all of the costs involved. None of this can remotely be described as scaremongering. Moreover none of this need put off a fundamentalist nationalist. No doubt, after some years Scotland would be doing very well indeed. But let us at least be honest about what we would need to do.

The other side of the coin is that the UK can do very well outside the EU. Free from the constraints and the bureaucracy of Brussels we can turn our country into a beacon of business and free trade. We will be able to negotiate trade deals with anyone we please, because we will not require the agreement of 27 other countries. We will be able to attract skilled people from all over the world to come and live and work here. The crucial point however, is that we will choose who has the right to come. The UK can become an offshore business centre like Japan. The advantages potentially are enormous, but people need to fundamentally change their mind-set. Stop thinking about the disadvantages of leaving the EU, start thinking of the advantages. When you make that switch you will start helping, until then you will remain hindering. 

This is the positive message about Britain that we need to counter the SNP’s argument. We campaigned far too negatively last time round and nearly lost because of this. The EU referendum campaign was lost by the Cameroons because they chose to go negative again. What we need is a simple clear positive message about Scotland and the UK. Don’t be negative about Scotland, but quietly point out the disadvantages of leaving the UK, while pointing out the advantages of staying. Moreover, we must start being patriotic about the UK and positive about our chances outside the EU. I despair of those Remain people who continue to threaten disaster for the UK. Our best chance of defeating Scottish nationalism long term is to disagree with them about the UK’s role in the world. Being positive about Brexit is our best argument. If the UK makes a success of our role outside the EU we will leave the SNP without an argument. On the other hand Pro UK people who continue to be negative about the UK’s prospects are making the SNP’s argument for them. Our one chance of making the positive case for the UK is to be positive about leaving the EU. We can tell a better story than the Scottish nationalists. It’s time high time we all started doing so.

The EU is in trouble. Every day I find myself thinking we made the right choice to leave. Italy looks like the new Greece, but Italy is too big to bail out. Thank goodness we are not going to be in the same club as Turkey. Uncontrolled immigration and open borders looks ever more unsafe. How long before another EU country follows the UK lead. Some Scots might think they can find a safe haven in the EU, but it’s not at all clear that the EU can even survive long term, at least not in its present form. This need not concern fundamentalist Scottish nationalists. For them, of course, it doesn’t matter what the future may bring, for Scotland ought to be independent come what may.

But the fundamentalist SNP position looks increasingly odd when you compare them with other independence movements like the American revolutionaries. Imagine if the Americans fought their war of independence in order to throw off British rule, only to ask the French king to rule over them instead. “Give me liberty, or give me death” would be a strange rallying cry under those circumstances. Give me liberty, or give me Brussels is Nicola Sturgeon's version of this. It appears unlikely that she will be remembered for as long as Patrick Henry. 

Scottish independence would involve an almighty struggle and tough times for all Scots. If you think it would be worth it fair enough, but why would you go to all that trouble only to end up being ruled by the EU?


38 comments:

  1. Effie, your spell check/auto-correct has been playing tricks on you I think - "Would Scots still be so separate to remain in the EU?" Should that not be "desperate"?

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    1. Thanks for pointing that one out. It's now been corrected. I write very quickly and don't always check throughly enough. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Makes the blog look better.

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  2. I trust Effie's proof reading to the SNPs Gloss Painting theirs.
    Never mind the PC Effie, it's the cause of many of the Worlds problems.

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  3. Great Blog.

    My concern with the Nationalist cause is that they have a strategy for deviciveness & victimhood. They constantly churn out how bad we Scots have it that it has become de facto. They churn out that the reason we are the way we are is due to English domination (using euphemisms to slip accusations of anglophobia).

    Somehow we have no responsibility for our future and that if the SNP only had magic levers of power economics then we'd be a rich socially justified country dripping in kumb by yaa. Every economic fact is countered by claims of putting Scotland down and by vomiting such cultish diatribe such as "GERS doesn't show whisky export tax / it's a Tory tool.

    The problem is their own MSP \MP's get away with such lies and the best lies are the one the gullible want to believe.

    I'm not sure what the answer is (besides education in the art of critical thought) but in some ways I wish it had happened as I could slip in an out the country not paying tax - just like a lot do in EIRE / NI. It would also be nice to see the misery inflicted on the very demographic that voted for such economic idiocy as they only believed in flag waving Nationalism. A Nationalism that couldnt stump up the cash when it all goes wrong.

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  4. That's a lot of words for saying for little. Interestingly in my field Estonia is now the WORLD's number 1 leader for digital government, what will underpin our entire new society. Moral of the story? You only achieve your full potential for greatness once you get out from under the big fat oaf lying on top of you.

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  5. Oh I do love useless analogies. As that why they are setting up a digital data copy of themselves in the UK? Because the UK is a big "fat oaf"? And Slovenia with all respect is as appetizing as Romania, Latvia, Lithuania etc. Otherwise you'd move there right?

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/be26fbd2-5005-11e6-88c5-db83e98a590a.html#axzz4FFHUk6Wp

    And what's stopping the Nat Government from doing it now? Absolutely sweet FA but too busy deflecting attention away from the state of our education, police & NHS - things very much in their so called 'competence'.

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    1. It's called international expansion, they're reputation is global and every one wants to work with them. That's what happens when you pioneer innovation. What's stopping the Nat government from doing it right now is the big fat oaf we're under.

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    2. That doesn't make sense Neil.

      If it did - why on earth would Salmond & his hangers on go to China, Iran, US and elsewhere on UK tax funded business development jaunts? Developing business is not illegal under the "big fat oaf" of the UK.

      I agree you may be attracted to a country with a lesser population than Glasgow & the West but poorer infrastructure & support network - but that isn't the majority of Scot's aspirations.

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    3. It's not complicated Jim. Sadly we're still part of the UK, so any economic under-performance is the responsibility of that government.

      That's the whole point, they have 1/5 of Scotland's population but are 10 years ahead of the UK and every other country. Damn right I want to aspire to that kind of global leadership, which we can achieve once we get rid of the dumb fatso holding us back.

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    4. So... Our police service is broke and paying VAT. Our NHS particularly in Glasgow is the worst performing ever. Every matrix of education & university attainment is down. Yet it's still "somebody else fault".

      We're not held back on any business development (except Nats inability to develop anything) nor are they held back to change the rates of income tax - but won't as they are too timid.

      Tell me what kind of 'global leadership' (snigger) that you think would change when they can't even show leadership in Scotland? Tell me about your "visionary white paper" and how it would have made a difference? You can't. It was a desperate pack of lies that only those committed to parochial Nationalism would believe.

      Why don't to trot off and live in Estonia? I've been there and it's a typical eastern European shit hole (no offence to those that live there) but you're under the illusion think it's some kind of utopia. (Being there in virtual reality ain't the same).

      The truth is Neil - Nationalists and it's followers of economic idiocy who believe the Govt owes them a living (despite demographically contributing nothing and being net recipients from society) are the only ones holding Scotland ergo the UK back.

      Nationalist Separatism ain't ever happening Neil - and all the hate in the world is not going to make it happen.

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    5. Business 101 Jim - If you want someone to be accountable you also have to give them full authority and autonomy. If you're unhappy with services it's the UK government who's responsible. If you want better services, get a better government.

      My post was only that E-Estonia is recognized as the world leader in digital government. You've expanded the scope to try and muddy the waters, as is typical of Brit Nats.

      Mock the white paper if you like, it was 650 pages more than the Brexit team had, the sinking ship you want to go down with. That's the worst economic idiocy the world has ever seen.

      Funny - I talk only about positive ambitions and you spew hate at me, to accuse me of hatred. Brit Nat through and through.

      But thankfully Scotland will soon be free and the haters like you, and you can 'trot off' to England and join them in their xenophobic shite hole.

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    6. Boom goes the dynamite!

      The real hate. So much so you even use your own politics of parochial nationalism to call someone a "Brit Nat". Scotland will be "freeee" and calling England a "xenophobic shite hole". As for "The worst economic idiocy the world has ever seen"!!! You clearly don't travel much. The UK has had the fastest growing economy and job creation stats in the western world. So much so the US lauded it. Better than Europe.

      But some how - you - under Salmond/Sturgeon - could create a better one. Can't explain how. Just talk about holding onto magic levers. Lol. You know - the same Salmond who disagreed that the Banks should be regulated in 2007? The same Salmond who said in Harvard Uni "Scotland has banks that money can't buy. How he could lend money faster and cheaper than Wall St & London". Who talked of the Celtic Tiger - that went bust pretty quickly. Such economic astuteness.

      Delusion isn't the same as positivity Neil. Indeed business is a rational choice. Your's is built in Anglophobia. Even your own Nat MP's have talked about a minimum of 5 years of selling off state assets to cover the bills. Business 101 clearly you know nothing about. Indeed - you probably follow "NaeBiz fur Scotland" formerly run by non entities and now SNP coonculurs.

      Vote for Freedumb all you want Neil. But we Scots who pay for it - are savvy enough never to let it happen. For your sake you know.

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    7. Funny, I mirror your hate back to you: 'Estonia is a shit hole', repeat your use of Nat, etc., and you still try and peddle the idea I'm the hater.

      My post was entirely positive - About the leadership of Estonia and how Scotland could follow it, you dragged it down into the shit.

      You sound like you're choked with hate and anger towards the SNP, I feel bad for you, a very sad little man.

      The vote was 45% the first time around Jim, when there was a strong argument for No, principally because of the risk of being left out of the EU. Now that card has changed hands there will be a lift of 10-20% for Yes.

      The era of the craven Scots is over Jim, time to grow up and be a country again, not a province of Little England.

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    8. Little England. It just oozes out of you doesn't it?

      As for Estonia - you've never been there so you're in no position to contrast & compare. Indeed it's apparent that you've not been anywhere but live on myth, magic and nationalism.

      I do almost admire your "10-20% lift" delusion. Considering Nat supporters were the biggest supporters of leaving the EU! But even then. You have many hurdles to overcome.

      1. Sturgeon won't call it anytime soon as she hasn't got the guts. 2. She can't call it. WM will say you've had your referendum - and over 2 Million Scots quietly said NO. 3. You'll be out of Europe (don't cry about it - I didn't & I voted Remain) 4. We have the biggest deficit that's even larger than Greece - We wouldn't qualify.

      Note how these are all facts and not delusion.

      But I do understand why you live in hope "tae stick it tae ra English". That sense of imagined victimhood. How you feel that your family was a victim of Prima Nocte as you saw it on a film once.

      Hope is all you've got. And the Indy card is all the SNP has got to keep it's somewhat economically illiterate & parochial support swaying cultishly in a trance.

      Clearly I don't see the UK (what you call England) as some form of evil master anymore than I see the SNP as some form of evil master. I'm master of my own destiny and have done pretty well. You on the other hand appear to rely on anglophobic nationalism to provide you an imagined freedumb. Just admit it's built on anglophobia and not on fact. As you haven't managed to provide one scintilla of fact based evidence about nationalism being a change agent for the better.

      Chow for now.

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    9. You're a self-describing parody Jim. Your response to my ideal that Scotland could be great by emulating Estonia was met with 'it's a shit hole', the Nat govt, 'freedumb', ... blah blah blah.

      If you want a dignified argument then provide one.

      And as for who has a handle on facts vs delusion, actually I have been to Estonia, and to Latvia and Lithuania, so yeah we can clearly see how insightful you are.

      I was there meeting with their digital government teams with a view to replicating those best practices in Scotland, and presenting to their universities on the future of Cloud computing.

      I loved their countries, I thought they were beautiful and the people very classy. This in addition to the fact they are recognized around the world as the #1 in my field.

      So yeah while you're at home stewing over what new insults you can cook up to try and denigrate Scotland and the SNP, I'm going to be playing my part in making the country a world class technology nation.

      Actions, not words, is what defines the man Jim.

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    10. Of course Neil. By all means go and live there (Bet you won't).

      I'm sure you'll be remembered for being deluded with your hatred of all things English / British and, like all Nats, on an unquestionable belief of SNP economic illiteracy.

      Keep dreaming. You're certainly no "man of action" Lol.

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    11. Oh - and I see you don't even live in Scotland but in Canada!

      You're a plastic Jock that has no vote, pays no taxes nor contributes to our society in any way!!

      Begone you fool. You don't even have the right to be call a Nationalist!

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    12. Estonia is it now? Guess the slump in oil prices explains why Norway has fallen out of favour as a separatist poster child.


      "Damn right I want to aspire to that kind of global leadership, which we can achieve once we get rid of the dumb fatso holding us back"

      If being held back by fatsos is as bad as you say then arguing for independence as a means to enter the queue to re-join the EU is a self-defeating argument.

      Based on currency options floated by the great and the good at the SNP it will be the fatso that controls the money in iScotland until it attains EU membership (if indeed that is achievable), thereafter it will be the even fatter EU that calls the holds the levers and calls the shots.

      You do see the flaw in your argument no?


      "I was there meeting with their digital government teams with a view to replicating those best practices in Scotland"

      Lol, guess the police computer system project could have benefited from some of that best practice. Was that fatso's fault too?

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    13. As we established Jim, you know nothing about me and when you guess you get it entirely wrong.

      I will be in Scotland to help promote the IndyRef 2 campaign and once successful will roll my sleeves up to make a big contribution to the tech sector, to attract investment, help start new companies and pioneer the country as a world leader like Estonia.

      You in contrast will sit on your computer and spit hate at the people working to make the country better for you.

      You may be in Scotland but you don't deserve to be considered a Scot.

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    14. Oh look you travel in pairs, like tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

      What do you mean 'Estonia is it now'? What because other people identify with Norway for oil I can't identify with Estonia for my industry?

      Geez you guys are so stupid it hurts.

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    15. "But thankfully Scotland will soon be free and the haters like you"

      Take that moral high ground.


      "and you can 'trot off' to England and join them in their xenophobic shite hole"

      Oops, true colours emerge and the crown slips lol.

      Guess it takes a hater to know a hater.

      SNP - blinded by nationalism since the 1930s.

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  6. What a load of utter drivel

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  7. Hi Effie, here's a response to your thoughts http://indynations.blogspot.co.uk/

    Keep up the debate! :)

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  8. "Scotland will soon be free".

    Free to watch free prescriptions, free education and other services disappear, as belt tightening becomes the order of the day.

    Free to have the euro and passport free travel foisted on us by the EU.

    Free to pay more in tax, in return for less than before.

    Free to sit in queues as we go through passport control at gretna.

    Free to watch the best and the brightest leaving in their droves.

    Free to watch the UK economy boom as they trade freely or cheaply with most of the world, while we are tethered to such economic dynamos as Italy and Greece.

    Free, in other words, to wonder "what the hell happened?"

    I have more faith in the Scottish people than you. They will not make such an error.

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  9. Hello Aldo - I was listening to similar pish on another discussion thread and it inspired me to write an article, about the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon.

    The thing about Excellence is you can't fake it, no matter how hard you spin or lie, as most politicians do, and the only credible opinion of this is neutral, worldwide media.

    http://scotvote.info/nicola-lady-braveheart/

    Because of our bias neither of our opinions are credible, the only ones that are is this international media, and those articles speak for themselves. You will never, NEVER, see an English politician get written up that way.

    The most important benefit that will come from our Independence is the freedom to be led by world class politicians like Nicola, not the maggots of Westminster.

    On the world stage, where all this 'new trade' will come from, England is led by Boris the Circus Clown, and Scotland by someone ALL of the world media consider 'the only adult in the room', the Lady Braveheart.

    I too have faith in the Scottish people, that we will finally shake off our lack of self-belief and stop being pissed on by Little Englanders who hate us, and follow true global leadership.

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    1. I would call that a non-response Neil. You have not addressed my points - merely dismissed them as "pish" (charming!), and sung Nicola Sturgeon's praises. I have no doubt she is versed in some of the dark arts - embued in her by her mentor Alex Salmond. But she is no great leader or stateswoman. Let's dispense with the theoreticals of independence for a moment and consider Scotland as it is under an SNP devolved government led by Sturgeon for two years and strongly influenced by her in the years before:

      Schools - plummeting levels of literacy and numeracy.

      Higher education - the poor increasingly locked out of it.

      NHS - hospitals under staffed, under funded and under equipped. You struggle to get a doctor's appointment.

      Police - overly centralised and failing. There is the famous case of a couple left to die in a crashed car, despite calls having been placed to the emergency services.

      Local government - cut to the bone to fund the council tax freeze. Services closed and reduced. School crossing patrols reduced and cancelled, leaving children exposed to danger.

      New powers over taxation and welfare - not used. The SNP scream blue murder about poverty but do nothing about it when handed the necessary controls over tax and spend.

      The reality of the SNP's failures in government cannot be disputed. It's on record. It has happened. It's there, in black and white. If they cannot adequately run a devolved administration (riding a bike with stabilisers on), then they cannot be trusted with full control over everything.

      Finally, the experience of actually living in Scotland gives you a far greater say on the abilities of the people who run Scotland than, for example, a journalist based in New York or Berlin. They may have done the theory, but we've done the practical.

      And my verdict is that Sturgeon is a third rate leader heading up a single issue party that has temporarily achieved control of a devolved regional assembly. She follows in the footsteps of the Party of Quebec - plenty of sound and fury - but Quebec is still a part of Canada (and in thirty years Scotland will still be a part of the UK).

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  10. Aldo -

    > But she is no great leader or stateswoman.

    It's pish because as per my article, the WORLD media, ie the actual objective analysis, says exactly the opposite. Your greasy little personal agenda is clear by your comments otherwise.

    As for these failures I totally agree. Sadly we are still part of the UK, who has authority over all of these areas, and they fail dismally. If you want a better government, change them.

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    1. Firstly, the "world media" isn't a single unit. There will be varying opinions depending on who you listen to and their own personal, political agendas. Many aspects of the media praised Thatcher and Reagan for their firm leadership and commitment to capitalism. I'm guessing you are to the left politically and wouldn't necessarily agree with that. In that case, consensus is only of value when it aligns with your personal opinions.

      I live and work in Scotland. I have always lived here. If people belong in that category, then it doesn't matter whether they are nationalists or unionists - their opinion carries more weight than that of a foreign journalist.

      I'll give you another example - President Erdogan of Turkey. A coup attempted to topple him last week. This is a man who was portrayed, by world media, as being increasingly unpopular among his own people - an islamist backed by rural hillbillies and loathed in the liberal cities. Yet you must have witnessed the sheer number of people who took to the streets to defend him. The world media got it wrong that time - and may even have induced the silly coup plotters to do what they did.

      Local knowledge beats foreign opinion, every time.

      All of the areas I mentioned are completely under the control of Holyrood. Westminster didn't impose a council tax freeze - Holyrood did. Westminster didn't bring in 'A Curriculum For Excellence', thereby destroying our schools as places of learning - Holyrood did that. Westminster didn't centralise the police force - Holyrood did.

      Where there is a lack of funding, Holyrood has had tax raising powers since day 1 (which have now been vastly widened). They have never once been used.

      Stop blaming the Westminster bogeyman and start holding your 'great leader' (Haha!!) to account.

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    2. You're proving my point not disputing it. Every one in Scotland will have some personal agenda to peddle, as you and I both do. The only source of objective opinion are those outside of it.

      Perfect example: "destroying our schools as places of learning"

      Yeah that's not a personal bias at all, that's an objective analysis validated by... erm, you.

      Scotland is one part of the UK, a sinking ship. You're saying one part should be able to float while the whole ship sinks. That's moron logic.

      England is rife with food banks in the same way Scotland is, the whole nation is failing.

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    3. Since the introduction of "A Curriculum For Excellence", standards of literacy and numeracy have plummeted. Literacy and numeracy are the foundation of education. You need to be conversant with them to learn anything else. But I suppose all that has no significance if you are simply a blood and soil nationalist intent on enacting independence at any cost.

      The UK is the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. Pretty far from a sinking ship. Countries are queueing up to do trade deals with us - and these will be easy to complete as they require the consent of one government rather than 28 governments under your failed and pathetic EU.

      Food banks. They are everywhere - not just in Britain. Their existence is, in part, due to the inability of people to manage their own lives. However, if the Holyrood government really wants to do something about foodbanks it could do so now - raise tax and redistribute wealth, thereby negating the need for foodbanks. They refuse to do so.

      Your point about foreigners having a better idea about what is going on is absolutely ridiculous. In that case, they'd have the right to vote in our elections and we'd be the ones banned from voting. Care to tell me why that isn't the case?

      Seriously, if these are the best arguments you can deploy, the unionist side has little to fear.

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    4. There you go Aldo, this is the central defining difference between us, and the two movements.

      It has nothing to do with England vs Scotland, it's about who are scumbags, and those who are not.

      When David Cameron came into power, 60,000 people needed to live out of food banks. It's now over 1 million, across all of the UK, achieved in only a few short years.

      Only scumbags see this as their own fault, and given thousands of these people are Scots, it shows exactly how much of your agenda is about what's best interests for all the people of Scotland.

      It has been the austerity cuts to welfare that have caused this, and this is a national policy, so again, it's the fault of the UK government.

      Those of us who actually care about Scottish people know that the only way it will EVER be addressed, is through Independence.

      You're just a scumbag Aldo, nothing more.

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    5. "Scumbag"? Again, charming! Fortunately I do not require your endorsement of me as a human being. I couldn't care less what you think of me. Reality is reality. I acknowledge it. You do not.

      The welfare bill in this country increased massively under Labour (1997-2010) - it expanded to two or three times its previous figure. Since 2010 it has grown - albeit to a lesser extent than under Blair / Brown, but has still increased. There has been no austerity. Austerity is an illusion. This country has not endured real austerity since the fifties. Fact!

      Some of the people who turn up to food banks do so in expensive cars and clothing. Many of them are drug addicts and drunks. Many of them have failed to adequately seek work. What do you propose - that we tax the productive part of society to breaking point to subsidise the scumbags?

      That's an option now open to the Scottish government. They refuse to do it. You should direct your name calling at them, not me - you clueless, overly idealistic, lefty fuckwit ;)

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  11. No Aldo, the only scumbags are those who ignore the real people who use food banks - children, young mothers, army veterans, the disabled, the mentally unwell, and endorse ignoring their needs through the use of sweeping stereotypes that they read about through the Daily Mail.

    Scottish children, young mothers, army veterans, the disabled, the mentally unwell. That's how much you care about Scotland.

    And again, just google it and you'll see austerity is a trend well documented across the world, only idiots would try and deny otherwise.

    In short you live in and only care about the world of Aldo, you're a selfish, self-absorbed cunt basically, making you ideal for the unionist brigade for sure.

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  12. And that's enough for me of being in contact with the horrible little people you are, it makes you sick. Unsubscribed.

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    1. As I expected, dog's abuse without any deeper point or substance. And you still have not addressed my points. You are a left wing idealogue who mysteriously loves the Scottish government - despite their repeatedly pissing all over your idea of "fairness". Why haven't they redistributed wealth Neil? Why do they refuse to alleviate 'poverty'? I'm powerless, Nicola Sturgeon isn't - have a pop at her why don't you?

      But, no, you've run off - you're a coward.

      You call me a "cunt". Thanks, I'd sooner be that than a coward - you spineless piece of garbage.

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  13. Not for the first time I find myself marvelling at Effie’s level of sustained cognitive dissonance as she discusses her cunning plan to make the SNPs task harder in her latest blog post. After admitting she has no real counter to those Scots “fundamentalists” who want independence come what may, she opines that unlike in Catalonia or the Baltic States, Scotland lacks the mass movements present in those countries (which partly explains the defeat in the 2014 indyref) and further, that if the SNP had been honest about the probability of hard times ahead in the event of a Yes vote, the No majority would have been even greater. Of course this is not a new argument from convinced unionists; they insist the Yes campaign promised only a land of milk and honey, free of risk or hazard, whereas in their eyes at least independence was (and remains) a huge leap in the dark. Naturally the risks attendant on staying in the union are seen as minimal or denied altogether.
    Interestingly however Effie, and many convinced unionists who share her outlook, were convinced campaigners for a Leave vote in the Brexit referendum on 23rd June 2016. They continue to be puzzled by, or downright hostile to, the overwhelming support for EU membership in Scotland. Now the truly breath taking levels of cognitive dissonance is laid bare. Whilst Scotland leaving the UK is presented as a risk not worth taking, destabilising and potentially economically ruinous, the UK leaving the EU is viewed through the rosy tinted spectacles of regaining sovereignty, freebooting entrepreneurial free trade with the rest of the world, and a bracing alternative to over regulated undemocratic “Brussels rule”. Thus Brexit is presented in a uniformly positive light; the risks are minimised and the opportunities hyped. Scottish independence on the other hand (particularly as part of the EU) is painted as the politics and economics of the mad house.
    Of course unionist wishful thinking aside, the Brexit result makes the case for the union much harder to make, not much easier. The success of a campaign as negative and odious as Project Fear during indyref1 in 2014, and again for the Brexit vote in 2016 will be much harder to repeat for indyref2 when it happens. Cassandra-like predictions of economic chaos will ring even less true than they did 2 years ago. Promises of voting No to remain in the EU, of economic competence and stability, are surely holed below the water line by the omnishambles that is Brexit.
    Effie adjures her co-religionists to abandon the siren song of Project Fear; they should desist from being negative about Scotland, and point out the advantages of staying and disadvantages of leaving the UK; stability, continuity, promotion of multi-national co-operation and being part of a larger whole where the broad shoulders of the union and pooling and sharing will see us through are emphasised. Simultaneously whilst being relentlessly positive about the prospects for the UK outside the EU, the instability, discontinuity, rejection of multi-national co-operation and being part of a larger European whole attendant on Brexit are dismissed as prices worth paying, indeed they are lauded as the patriotic choice. For Effie, British nationalists can tell a better story than Scottish nationalists, because in the end “her” nationalism is an unalloyed self-evidently good thing, whilst “their” nationalism is a debased, unpatriotic oddity intent on swapping the benign sibling-like oversight of Westminster for the insufferable undemocratic jackboot of Brussels.
    Perhaps it isn’t a case of rose-tinted spectacles for Effie, more of fervid “Alice Through the Looking Glass” simulacrum of the actual Scottish political environment from which she seems increasingly detached, and to which she and her followers appear increasingly irrelevant.

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