Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Sleepwalking into independence

Is it just me? Does anyone else find this odd?

In today's Daily Mail (well, in the Scottish version) the main story is about the SNP's commanding lead in Labour's private opinion polls in the lead up to May's Holyrood election.

According to the Mail:

If it wins, the SNP has vowed to introduce legislation that would see a referendum on independence within 100 days.
That's highly misleading - it's the legislation, not the referendum itself that's planned for the first 100 days.

But Labour (according to the Mail) thinks that Messrs Brown, Darling, Reid and Alexander will be tied up fighting this referendum at exactly the same time as Brown takes over from Blair.

We are then told:

One minister with a Scottish constituency said: "This could wreck Gordon's blueprint for his first 100 days in office.

The polling from Scotland looks grim. Rather than focusing on the issues he wants to, Gordon could be sucked back into what essentially is parochial politics.

A "No" campaign would have to be spearheaded by him and other ministers from Scotland."

Forget for the moment that any referendum may well not take place until after Gordon Brown is on the dole queue; is it really the opinion of a Scottish minister that the question of the continuation of the UK is "parochial politics"? The mind boggles.

The Mail continues:

Key policy areas, such as plans for pay-as-you-go road tolls and ID cards, could prove impossible to implement if a Nationalist-controlled Scottish parliament - or an independent Scotland - refused to co-operate.
But if Scotland were independent, why would it have any input at all on whatever entity remained at Westminster? The previous paragraph is ludicrous. It would seem that the Mail's Deputy Political Editor just doesn't get it. If Scotland is independent, the UK won't somehow continue to exist as if nothing had happened. I see this article as another example of the Presumption of the English Norm: that if Scotland becomes independent, nothing will really have changed. Oh yes it will, and I sometimes think that the shock to England would be much greater than that felt in Scotland where at least the issue is discussed in a sensible way.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Historically one of the reasons for Scotland having a much higher newspoaper reading habit is precisely this problem - you have to buy a 'local' paper to get 'local' news and a 'national' paper to get 'national' news. 
This results in a minor episode of Caledonian Antisyzygy. The absence of this, and a certain element of smug inertia results in the sure fired trruth that: "the shock to England would be much greater than that felt in Scotland" of that there is no doubt.

23 January 2007, 10:30:59 GMT
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The Mail is the third most-read paper in Scotland. It is of great concern that such a wide-selling newspaper should understand Scotland so little. What you say about the presumption of the English norm seems correct. It seems to me that many Scots will only get their news from newspapers like the Mail or the Guardian, that, on the rare occasions they report what's happening in Scotland, have great difficulty getting it right.

9 January 2007, 23:10:56 GMT
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As an English nationalist I would welcome Scottish independence - the real kind I mean, not the Brussels-endorsed SNP's characteristically dishonest demand for 'independence within Europe'. I doubt the English would feel the shock. The best way to hurt anyone is in their pockets, and if that is true then both Northern English (as Lowlanders were known until quite recently, since that is what they are by descent) and the denizens of Glasgow taverns will have to tighten their belts. Don't worry. The obnoxiousness and misplaced vanity we associate with Scotland, and which is always in evidence in readers' posts to sites like this one, comes from a deculturalized, self-hating English population in the main, all of them scratching around in search of an identity.  
It is they who shout loudest in defence of Scottish history while barely raising a whisper to save their own, and it is they who will assuredly organize a whip-round if you're at all unhappy about the new arrangements or just feeling the pinch (before putting you back on the payroll, natch). Afterwards Alan Cochrane can write a piece for a London broadsheet telling us how 'self-help' has always been the Scottish way and how dependent on Scotland England has always been and how it is no different in the modern day.... Sometimes I am not at all sure which I despise more - the preposterous self-importance, the sheer sense of entitlement, that goes with Scottish character or the vast armies of mental defectives I number among my own countrymen and women and who, as a nation, probably deserve to be put out of their misery.

8 January 2007, 19:22:43 GMT
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Well, Straw is right. Outside of the heremetically sealed world of gesture politics influence matters. Im sure it will be lovely for Scotland to have embassies and seats at conference tables, but will anyone listen?

5 January 2007, 09:48:48 GMT
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Lysias, you are talking like Jack Straw. He admitted that the only reason the Labour government does not want Scottish Independence is because the UK would lose its seat at the UN Security Council and votes in the EU Council of Ministers - none of which are ever applied for Scottish interests. So you may think you will lose significant prestige - but Scotland will at least gain something it currently doesn't have, no matter how truncated we are. Feel the quality not the width!

4 January 2007, 21:10:00 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

There's nothing like the prospect of direct democracy, in the form of this independence referendum, to put a glint in the eye of political axe grinders. What a lot of bizarre and tangential expectations have become attached to it! From what I've read apparently Scottish independence will do everything from solve the Northern Ireland problem to abolish the monarchy. Sadly no one can seem to explain quite how tinkering with the constitution will necessarily bring about these miraculous changes in political culture. Labour will still have a majority without the Scots MPs, and countries have been known to beggar themselves for decades when it's deemed to be in the national interest - we did under the Corn Laws. The truth is after an independence vote it'll be business as usual deciding whose noses get in the trough, the only difference being there'll now be two piddling truncated countries where there used to be one significant one.

3 January 2007, 22:00:04 GMT
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Sean Gabb
I look forward to Scottish independence. It will stuff labour in England, and might provoke the North Britons into a semblance of economic rationality.

3 January 2007, 15:12:44 GMT
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Malcolm (Edinburgh)
While I hate to defend the Mail, isn't it making quite a valid point, even if it is expressing it really badly? 
If there's to be a referendum, wouldn't it be an absolute priority for Messrs Brown, Darling, Reid and Alexander to campaign for a "No", because a "Yes" would render them, and all other Scottish Westminster MPs, immediately unemployed? 
And if the Westminster Labour party suddenly lost all its Scottish MPs wouldn't it have a severely decreased majority making most of its future plans more difficult? Not that the Scottish Mail should care, because they wouldn't directly affect Scotland!

3 January 2007, 15:01:38 GMT
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Bill points well made again.

3 January 2007, 09:07:37 GMT
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Bill (Scotland)
I'm not sure whether to laugh or to cry when reading nonsense like this; the Mail is not on my reading list and I don't think much credence should be placed in anything that organ contains! 
The internal logic of some of your recent posts on Scotland and its position in the UK is irrefutable and reflects my private belief more or less since the 'wee pretendie parliament' was set-up; I would much rather that entity had never been created (thanks to so-called 'father of the nation' Dewar), but now that it has it is not really feasible politically to uninvent it so the ultimate break-up of the Union seems increasingly inevitable unless the justified unhappiness of a fair few English MPs and residents can be dealt with fairly quickly and in a mature way by correcting the democratic imbalance which now exists.

3 January 2007, 00:59:07 GMT
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Ken Adams
I agree with your comments, Scotland is an important part of the UK, its loss to the union would be strongly felt in the UK. AS usual the MSM is either not thinking or it is following its own adgenda.

2 January 2007, 18:48:12 GMT