Monthly Archives: January 2017

WHY THE NEXT INDYREF WILL BE DIFFERENT

The next indyref will be absolutely fascinating and totally unlike the contest last time. Last time the unionists managed to ensure that the debate remained a choice between a ‘safe’ ‘continuity’ UK  which they successfully were able to contrast against the ‘uncertainties’ of a future independent Scotland. What was scrupulously avoided was any examination of the risks associated with remaining in the UK. The risks, as we now know, are manifest and an impending reality. Out of the EU, endless Tory rule, billions taken out of our economy, the probable need for visas to travel, a collapsing pound and the flight of business. The staying in the union was then not the risk free option that was so craftily presented.

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This is a trick that won’t be afforded to the union side next time round. Brexit has completely turned that on its head. There will be no seamless continuity choice and both sides in the next referendum debate will have to present/defend an opportunity/risk option. Scotland will have to choose on the basis of whether we believe that we will be better off in the new Brexitised UK or an independent Scotland with the risks/opportunities of determining our own future.

Already the Brexit option is becoming more apparent. We now know we will be out of the single market and customs union and that we will end freedom of movement. There are now hints that if/when we don’t get the deal that we want with the rest of the EU we may become some sort of offshore deregulated tax haven. This is going to be difficult to sell in Scotland particularly when it will have to fall upon the Scottish Conservatives to put this case. There is no doubt that the Scottish Conservatives will lead the unionist side in the next referendum. After being enthusiastic Europeans the Scots Tories will now have to sell the virtues of this new isolated Britain. The Scots Tories running the union campaign will also inevitably mean they will bring their own particular political values to the campaign, particularly when there is absolutely no prospect of a Labour Government in the UK. It will increasingly be a Tory union verses a future social democratic Scotland with a Scottish Labour party on the wrong side of this political divide, rendering themselves almost irrelevant.

Scottish Labour Party Leader Johann Lamo

There is already alarm at how the next indyref will be fought from unionists conscious of the coming contest. The attempt to suggest that we will be cut off from the UK ‘single market’ and we will be ‘doubly’ worse off in leaving the UK is their favourite early desperate salvos in a attempt to fruitlessly rerun the economic arguments of the last indyref. They know, though, that ‘economic uncertainty’ will work both ways this time round as we see the ‘real’ evidence of an economy tanking with the prospects of its looming economic isolation.

There is also the key question of what type of country we will want to be? An independent Scotland will now be very different beast from a Brexitised UK. The Faragists and rightist Tories having won the terms of our departure from the EU are now carefully assembling the social agenda of this new UK. It will be one of antipathy to ‘foreigners’, weird nostalgia with a healthy dose of economic chauvinism. Shunned by the EU these Brexiteers are likely to seek solace in a Trumpian embrace. A Brexitised UK pulling away politically, economically and culturally can only seek some sort of new accommodation with this strange new president.

The choice this time will then be huge with massively contrasting options available. The Scottish people will be invited to scrutinise precisely the details of remaining in the UK just as they will consider what would be involved in securing full self Government. We will also have to properly consider what sort of Scotland we want to be. It is going to be so different from last time, as will the outcome.

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A LOATHSOME BREXIT

We’re now only a few weeks away from starting the process of leaving the European Union and I am still no closer to being reconciled to this dreadful decision. We now know that it is to be the hardest of hard Brexits with economic costs that are as yet unimaginable.

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But it is more than that. I actually loathe the idea that I might be out of the European Union. That the right I had to live, work and love in a shared community of 28 nations will be lost to my son, his generation and those that will follow.

And it’s all so ridiculous and ludicrous. Never before has a nation indulged in such a pointless exercise of economic and cultural self flagellation. Never before has there been such a clamour to participate in such national self harm, and for what?

If we were perhaps doing this for some lofty ideal, maybe to tackle global injustice or assist in alleviating the condition of the world’s poorest, then perhaps it would all be a bit more palatable.

But no, we’re doing this because the UK doesn’t like immigrants.

Stopping immigration informs everything concerning our departure from the EU. It takes precedence over anything else and all other considerations are merely consequential. The costs associated with this obsession is simply to be borne in this grand mission and dismissed and discounted. No price is too high to ‘take back control’.

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The thing is we live in a global, interconnected world where the movement of peoples has never been so profound. From the exchange of ideas and skills to people fleeing wars more people are on the move than ever before in history. Somehow we are asked to believe the myth that Brexitised Canute UK will beat back this historic tide.

It is now clear that it’s the Faragists and the hard right Tories who have won the terms of Brexit. People who have hitherto inhabited the fringes of our politics are now mainstream and their world view is now convention.

I actually laughed out loud when I listened to this guff about a ‘global’ UK. ‘Global’ is the last thing that the new UK wants to be or will become. ‘Drawbridge’ UK would be a much better description.

And look at the response from the rest of the world. When they’re not laughing at us they are simply taking pity on us. As this joke of a Foreign Secretary goes out his way to insult the very people we have to ‘negotiate’ with they are thinking of nothing but the hardest of conditions to deter anybody else from considering leaving.

A negotiating position, you ask? Well the negotiating position seems to be threatening our EU partners that we will indulge in even further self harm if they don’t do as we want. Apparently, we are actually considering turning the UK into some sort of off shore de-regulated tax haven if the EU actually thinks about looking out for its own interests. That’ll show them….

Its not just the actual act of leaving the EU that concerns me, though that is ghastly enough. Its the ideology – the new world view that is hastily being designed to accommodate this new national splendid isolation.

The biggest cheer leaders of the Prime Minister this week have been UKIP. Paul Nuttall actually said “it did sound like a UKIP conference speech and the Prime Minister is now applying some of the things that we’ve been talking about for many, many years”

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People of Scotland – work as if if you live in the early days of a UKIP UK. A weird world of 50s nostalgia, being antipathetic to ‘foreigners’ and a reality that will feel like living in the angry, agitated, ultra Conservative pages of a Daily Mail editorial.

Scotland of course wanted nothing to do with any of this but yet we are to be driven over this cliff edge with the rest of the UK. If we don’t get out of all of this soon we will be marooned on this small island with these ultra right Tories running the show. If we meekly go along with this they will feel emboldened to do whatever they want with us. Backbench Tories hate the Barnett Formula and when the post Brexit economy tanks (as it very quickly will) it will be things like Barnett that they will have the confidence to tackle.

Things are coming to a head. We have tried to compromise with this, to deliver a plan that will spare us the worst of this madness, but we will soon be forced to choose again.

This time the choice will be very clear. Stuck in a new isolated UK ran by ideologues we didn’t vote for or determining our own way in the world according to our own national values.