Scottish Independence – A Bridge Too Far?

indyrefIn the week that contained the monumental Scottish Independence referendum, the Battle of Arnhem 70th Anniversary celebrations made me think; was the SNP dream of Scottish Independence simply A Bridge Too Far for the party and their (subsequently) ‘battle weary’ leader Alex Salmond?

Just before the final result was announced, the votes were still being counted at the time, it was apparent which way the result was going to go. I tweeted – “They think it’s all over…It is now!” But is it? Have we really seen the end of Scots looking for total severance from the rest of us in the UK, at the least for a generation or two?

The journalist Angela Haggerty explained how the recently enhanced Scottish passion for change will continue. I would tend to agree with her but in addition, I also believe that ‘passion’ will/should flow southwards.

The Power of The 45: Forty-five per cent is a huge result for the Yes campaign. For months, I’ve believed that if Yes could get support up as high as 45 per cent, the independence referendum Yes voters would soon become a movement, a people who no longer accept being at the bottom of the pile.

After the result it was clear, the desire for change isn’t solely a Scottish feeling. Many have been unhappy about how we are governed for a decade or more. Now there are (rightly) calls for greater devolution across the whole of the UK, not just from within Scotland. Why can’t we have a federation of autonomous but integrated States? It appears to work (in the main) for Australia or the USA and even to a certain extent in Germany.

The Guardian: A federal system needs a strong bond to hold individual elements together. Postwar Germany had that; it’s doubtful the UK does… (Jochen Hung)

If we are ever to realise the ‘federalism’ that so many seem to crave, we also need some solidarity and unity in our nation and its constituent regions. The kind of unity that is still (mostly) present within those respective nations. You can actually be a proud Scot (or English/Irish/Welsh by birth for that matter) and still be a proud Brit.

But if Mr Cameron and the Tories signed up to the federalism we crave, wouldn’t they also be undermining many of their anti-Europe arguments?

Some say that (in the UK) we went to war for the right to self determination – is that so very different to the people of Scotland wanted? There are however differing reasons for these desires today, ones which appear to be wholly (or at least partly) dependent upon your particular place in our current social dung pile.

Despite the inequalities across the UK the people in power wanted Union – but I suspect not because they ‘care’ much about Scotland and its people. More because of the encroachment in some way on their power and wealth – even as petty as ego and status….. It isn’t a simple thing to unravel and it won’t go away… (Huw Evans)

Away from any considerations about the gilded towers of commerce or indeed, the oak panelled corridors of political power, I suspect that any desire for maintenance of the ‘Union’ was mostly driven by passion. With little or no predominant self-interest. It’s all about that chest-swelling pride, a value of our history and a sense of belonging to a family.

That inherent social and tribal thing; it isn’t driven by the maintenance of self-promotion, egotistical and/or financial aspiration. I find it sad how so many successive governments (and too many overt liberals) have continually belittled and destroyed those once more prevalent feelings.

Throughout the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns, it’s a wonder anyone was actually able to find the facts and background information they required to formulate an informed basis for their vote. I believe Alex Salmond for one played on that, its why I suspect there was far more voting with hearts, rather than minds.

Irrespective of all the ‘what if’ questions and ‘fluffy’ predictions and/or promises, from opposing sides of the respective campaigns, many were also dismayed/angry about the lack of quality news coverage of the subject… before, during and after the final result. More importantly, the almost total lack of impartiality by some media outlets, in particular the BBC, has been reprehensible.

Writing in The Guardian just prior to last week’s monumental democratic “opportunity of a generation”, George Monbiot outlined his views about – ‘How the media shafted the people of Scotland’. He said; “Journalists in their gilded circles are woefully out of touch with popular sentiment and shamefully slur any desire for change

On Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald…(George Monbiot)

Monbiot suggested that Scots (who subsequently voted yes) “have been almost without representation in the media.” That’s probably correct but since the result, I’ve also been angry about the mischievous methods being employed by both the media and opposing sides of the campaign divide.

Much of it, particularly on social media, has been little more than an extension of that all too prevalent sectarianism mindset. It’s an issue which unfortunately, is still evident within some communities and areas within Scotland. It’s also interesting that those areas, which apparently returned the largest percentage of YES votes in the referendum, are also the ones which suffer most from this hatred and social stigma. In addition, all those puerile attempts aimed at slurring the reputations of anyone with an opposing or differing opinion, has done little to endear either camp to its opposition… let alone the people.

Subsequent to that result, several news outlets, mainstream, tabloid and even social media, have also been ridiculed and/or chastised about their often tainted and less than factual coverage of events, pre and post referendum (see here).

Since the final outcome there have also been (expected) allegations about vote fixing, misrepresentation and other irregularities and impropriety in the process (see here). That said, the claims leveled by ‘official’ Russian observers, about ‘inappropriate process’ (see here) were mostly laughable…talk about pot and kettle!

I have to admit that, throughout the campaign, I have tended to be a little more reliant upon (and trusting of) social media, as opposed to the tabloids and TV news. Although social media can also be tainted by personal agenda and misinformation (intentional and/or accidental), there tends to be a little less of the political and financial drivers which blight the output of the former sources.

All these distasteful issues have combined to provide a sad indictment of the overall democratic process. But if it doesn’t stop, this aftermath cesspit is set to stand in the way of that ‘constructive’ forward movement still required. We have the referendum results and they must stand. In addition, we must not allow sectarian views, lack luster media reporting or indeed any petty differences of opinion, to stand in the way of that continued change. It is an opportunity for progression that is totally reliant upon the initial momentum presented by this ‘once in a life-time opportunity.

So was this a ‘Bridge Too Far’ for Salmond and the SNP – I think so. At least in respect of the question posed… “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Perhaps the wording of the question alone was just too much of a fait accompli, one that many proud Scottish Brits were simply unable to stomach? Yes, many thinking people hanker after the constitutional change the referendum could have provided but, the Scotts are not alone with those desires.

Importantly, the time has come where we all want and need far less political control of our lives and our interests. Control from an out of touch and mostly self-interested ruling elite, people who appear to be continually feathering their own nests, and with little or no concern for the populous. That desire however doesn’t necessarily have to include the collapse of the Union!

Guest Blog: The aftermath of the Scottish NO Vote? #indyref

Here is a first for my site…a guest blog…

This piece looks at the aftermath of the recent Scottish Independence referendum and the author, Paul Hasney, suggests a masive lost opportunity in the NO vote which was subsequently delivered…

indyrefOkay so I’ve had the weekend to recover a little and think about what the hell we chose last Thursday.

Leaving aside the inevitable accusations of fixing which are in abundance in the social media. These accusations would have happened regardless which way the vote went.

What I have concluded is the No campaign was about nothing. They did not campaign for one single additional benefit for Scotland. They campaigned for no change whatsoever, they campaigned for things to continue as they have for the last 300 years, and in particular the last 50 (my lifetime). They campaigned to continue to be thought of and treated as a region of England.

Analysis of who won the vote for the No side says mostly the over 55’s. Okay some would say the group with more knowledge and experience swayed it. But on the other hand, this is the group that is scared stiff of any change to their routine and comfortable existence, the group that has done their days work, the group that has paid off the mortgage, hopefully raised a couple of kids who contribute to the country and take care of their parents. The group that wistfully still believe that honour and integrity can come back and replace the corner cutting, backsliding, slipshod workmanship and greed that is prevalent, that the stiff upper lip and a good cup of tea will return and all will be well again. The silver-haired group whose main concern is pensions and health care.

These people were successfully targeted and cowed by the No campaign scare tactics and propaganda on the topics of pensions and health care, topics which were disproportionaly reported by a very biased establishment controlled media.

The No campaign campaigned for the continued selling off of any public enterprise left to the private sector, after which it could be rented back at a lot more than it cost the public to run it. Generally less efficiently, but as long as it puts money in the politicians pockets and that of their buddies – who cares. They campaigned for the continuation of no heavy industry in Scotland, we were the most sought after engineers in the world, Scottish and Engineer, the two were inseparable in the blood.

They campaigned for the continued cuts to our military. A troop of boy scouts could probably invade UK and we wouldn’t be able to stop them. They campaigned for our returning troops to be treated with scorn and disrespect and not the heroes they are. They campaigned for all the sacrifices these brave men and women made, often with their lives, to protect our freedoms and rights to be judged as immoral. Whether you judge the battle or war they fought in right or wrong are irrelevant, these men and women went to do their duty your government asked them to do, they should all be treated as heroes, respected and helped on their return.

They campaigned to continue to have no Merchant Navy worth mentioning. An island nation with no merchant ships or seafarers. The British merchant Navy and seafarers, like many things, were once the best and most highly regarded in the world. Now it’s all foreign flag with cheap labour crews. But the No campaign don’t care, cheaper ships, cheaper labour delivering the goods we need, mean more of the select few can fill their pockets faster, the goods for Joe Average to buy aren’t any cheaper in the shops, just more profitable.

In the early 70’s there were scores of British Merchant Shipping companies flying the red ensign. All with a proud history, even though some were founded on not so proud trading businesses (slave trade). Many suffered scores of losses in men and ships keeping this nation alive during the wars. All gone now because of corporate greed and not being seen as worthwhile to support by the Governments since. A call for the Falklands war was answered by those companies still around, British seafarers sacrificed themselves again. We couldn’t even carry lunch to troops these days with the ships we have flying the red ensign, do you think the foreign crews would sail their foreign ships to help the UK?

They campaigned for the continued cuts to the police forces, they campaigned for the inevitable privatisation of the NHS. They campaigned for a continuation of a laughable justice system with no effective or real punishment, where the criminals are given all the rights and support whilst the victims, their families and friends continue to be left to suffer. They campaigned for the continuation of extremists to radicalize our young people, and not be able to deport them, which cost the public huge sums of money. They campaigned for foreign justice (Sharia) to thrive in this country; it has no place in Britain.

They campaigned to allow “travellers” to invade good honest people’s property and set up camp at the expense of honest hard-working citizens. They campaigned for the continued influx of cheap foreign labour. They campaigned for an immigration policy that lets anyone in regardless of their interests, knowledge or plans for the UK.

They campaigned for the continuation of skill and knowledge to emigrate to countries that offer a better way of life instead of staying to build a better one here, because there isn’t the glimmer of hope for a better way of life in the UK.

They campaigned for the continuation of ridiculous political correctness that has made every citizen of this country so afraid of saying or doing anything in case it may cause a slight offense. They campaigned for the white, Christian, straight, honest, law-abiding citizen of this country to be abused.

They campaigned for the continuation of absurd HSE policies that inhibit people from doing their jobs, following traditions and customs, having fun, or a child growing up experiencing a few knocks, bumps and bruises.

They campaigned for the continuation of ambulance chasing law firms and the “sue anyone for anything you can” culture. They campaigned for the continuation of common sense not being common. They campaigned for the continuation of no discipline at schools, where teachers are scared of children, where children murder teachers.

They campaigned for the continuation of absurd green policies, wind farms to be built, not one of which makes a profit or has lowered the cost of energy. Scotland has an abundance of hydro schemes and potential hydro schemes, but these don’t put the same revenue in the pockets of the few so why build them? Sea current and tidal power generation, same as hydro – there is not the revenue to be made from them, they don’t need the continuous repair wind farms do, so not the same amount of money to be earned by the few shareholders.

They campaigned for a welfare system that continues to support those too lazy to help their own country, people who give the country nothing but who would rather screw the system because they believe the country owes them everything.

They campaigned for Westminster to be dictated by a minority few – the fat cats in London area, average Joe outside the M25 doesn’t matter to them. They campaigned for the media to skew reporting to meet the political agenda of the fat cats and continue never to report impartially or unbiased. They campaigned for the Government to continue to make promises and then renege on them and lie to the public. They campaigned for the Government to have secret meetings and implement policy without proper debate or discussion, like the maritime borders pre 1999. They campaigned not to have this restored. That is what the No campaign campaigned for.

This is what we had and will now continue to have. The Yes movement, they had loftier dreams, everyone knew it was going to take hard work and a lot of suffering, the Yes movement did not offer an instant utopia, they offered hard work to make a great country in two or three generations time. But in the end the referendum was the won by the No campaign, a side that want people to continue to pretend everything is okay, continue to believe skewed tabloid reporting and institution controlled media, continue to wear rose-tinted glasses and believe we still rule the waves and have an empire.

The UK was a broken country way before this referendum started, there are no plans to fix everything that is wrong that I have mentioned above. Just policies to continue as is; or make it worse. Just to put a heavier tint on the glasses and carry on…

The No campaign did not win any of the extra powers offered at the eleventh hour. They were won by the Yes movement. Powers thrown like a bone by the very scared establishment to pull more to the No side. The No campaign did nothing to win them. How many of these powers will be honoured? The No campaign doesn’t care because they weren’t asking for them anyway. What is the No campaign going to do now? What is their way forward? How are they going to repair everything that is broken? Do they really think our little 9% of the UK means that much to Westminster?

The UK as a whole cannot be fixed now, it’s too far down the broken road. We had a chance to take it into our own hands and fix our small part, we chose not to, we chose to stay broken, and be broken even more. We had our chance to take our small portion of land and restore some of the glory, we chose not to.

Now the arguments rage that England, Ireland and Wales all have the same powers as being granted to Scotland. That’s good, that’s fair, complicated but good. Scottish MPs only vote on purely Scottish matters, English MPs vote on purely English matters, Welsh on Welsh and Irish on Irish. Irish and Scottish on Irish and Scottish matters, Scottish and English on Scottish and English, and so on and so forth.

Complicated but doable if we put our minds to it. Politicians are up in arms about it, why? Because they are scared of what it will mean to their own pockets, their chums with the money will drop them in favour of a new puppet. One thing is certain though; it will no longer be the United Kingdom of Great Britain, why was it never referred to as the United Kingdoms of Great Britain? With the new powers to each individual country, it will be the United Countries of Britain or the United States of Britain; probably the latter would be more appropriate if you figure in Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

If the new powers to all countries work properly and all things are honoured, then it could be for the better. These new powers aren’t nearly as much as we wanted, but we secured more than we had before or what the No campaign were going to give. In the end, the Yes movement, by having these powers ceded to Scotland, did more for Scotland than the No campaign.

Am I still proud to be Scottish even though the vote didn’t go the way I would have wished? Damned right I am.

Note: The author of this post is actually my nephew, although he isn’t that much younger than I. He’s currently an expat and a marine engineer by profession. He is Scottish by birth and I am English. Having both grown up in families with similar standards and viewpoints, I suspect one of the only major differences between us would be the way we would have voted in the referendum…if either of us had been entitled to do so.

This One’s For Regie

Dave Hasney:

More ‘evidence’ to support the well known fact within policing…despite the corporate claptrap…social media is still a feared commodity in many at the top of the service. I suspect that fear comes not from the ‘harm’ caused to the image of the job but more, the possibility of negative impact upon certain individuals career aspirations…what say you?

Originally posted on RetiredAndAngry:

So we’ve had James Patrick, Mental Health Cop, The Real (or Fake) British Cop, Sgt Gary Watts and now Newquay Sarge.

Newquay Sarge

Newquay Sarge

What the hell has he done wrong?

He has been disciplined by his Force, Devon and Cornwall, and labelled ‘incompetent’

‘Sarge’ has more than 4,500 followers on Twitter—including councillors, locals, and many journalists.
He also writes a popular blog on policing in the resort. Yet his comments barely registered until somebody in his police force took offence and insisted on starting an investigation.  Why, oh why, would somebody do that.
Here’s an open invitation to you all:-
  • Can you give me one example of an ‘Inappropriate Tweet’ by the Sarge?
  • Can you give me one example of a ‘Drunken tweet’ by the Sarge?
  • Can you give me one example of a Tweet by the Sarge that was ill-conceived?
  • Can you give me one example of an…

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