Wednesday, 27 March 2013


So there we are then the 18th September 2014 with be the date on which the Scottish referendum will be held. I for on hope that Scotland votes for independence, believing that the Union as such is unsustainable and has passed its sell-by date. At the end of the day this is a matter for the Scottish people not the rest of us. As for the referendum I for one wonder whether David Cameron and the Westminster elite (I use the term loosely) will accept the result if the Scottish people vote for independence.

Let’s hope we don’t have any moving of goalposts on the part of the Westminster parliament. When it comes to referenda over sovereignty DC may do well to remember that you cannot pick and choose. Just as he has publically called on Argentina to respect the wishes of the people of the Falkland Islands to remain British, the Prime Minister should clearly and publically state that he will respect the democratically expressed wishes of the Scottish people.

In relation to the referendum campaign, some of David Cameron's interest may revolve about not ending up going down in history as the Conservative Prime Minister who lost Scotland. I have little doubt that much of his rhetoric (like most of the Unionists) in the Scottish referendum campaign will be designed to bully, frighten and patronize the Scottish people into voting No. As an outside observer of Scottish politics it would be easy to dismiss Cameron and the Westminster Tories (and their former New Labour and Lib Dem Unionist little helpers) as an irrelevance, especially after the near complete hammering they suffered in the Scottish parliamentary elections in 2011.

David Cameron
Cameron’s first problem is that he actually believes that the Union he is waffling on about actually functions effectively. The reality is that the Union could be described as barely functioning; the British state is ceasing to serve or deliver for large numbers of people, in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As far as I can seen Scotland politics is now fundamentally different as are Scotland priorities and perhaps the Scottish people’s perception of their place in Europe and a wider world.

The harsh reality is that behind Cameron's sentimental pitch lies a desperate need for Scotland's oil - the Conservatives wasted millions (if not billions) in the 1980's funding tax cuts for the rich and subsidizing the disposal (systematic looting may not be too harsh a word) of state assets to their friends in the City. The pre Thatcher Labour Government failed to establish a wealth fund in which to store future anticipated tax revenues from the North Sea (as was the case in Norway and may possibly Scotland).

The Conservatives under Thatcher and Major just blew the money looking after their own vested interests, New Labour under Blair and Brown did nothing to change the situation and opportunities were wasted. Given a logical non emotive rational debate, freely reported in the media (and here I include the BBC which no doubt will struggle ineffectively to hide its bias) then we could be in for an interesting debate.

Cameron's second problem is that the inhabitants of these islands no longer live in the 17th and 18th centuries. The once perceived political necessities of curbing the divine right of kings, protecting Imperial trade, controlling Ireland and Scotland for historic strategic reasons and conceding the City (and its interests) a free hand in world trade are all ancient history. The Empire is long gone and any real perception (outside of the pages of the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Express and the Sun and some parts of the Conservative Party and UKIP) that the UK actually remains a real power and influence in the world died quietly at Suez in 1956.

Cameron's problem is that while he may be a nice chap there is a real danger that in the eyes of many Scots he manages to combine arrogance, ignorance and a lack of understanding of how the Union has actually worked and a basic understanding of how states actually work. Over time, peoples have combined, been conquered, formed, reformed, participated in and benefited from the existence of states, many of whom have been multi ethnic in nature. During the same period peoples have left failing states, established new states and re-established old states. It's actually part of the Human condition that's what we do.

The Union (as is) is no longer works, it is not delivering basic economic opportunities to people as individuals or as communities across significant parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Simply appealing to emotive sentiment and a rose tinted vision of what is effectively a long dead vision of the past just won't do and just won't work.

None of us can live off nostalgia; it won't butter any bread let alone buy any. We are in for an interesting few months as the debate on Scotland's future develops. Personally I think that the Scottish Government should call in international observers for the referendum to ensure that poll is a free and fair vote and any Unionist skullduggery or interference in the democratic process can be avoided. And David Cameron should clearly and publically state that he will respect the democratically expressed wishes of the Scottish people.

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