Monthly Archives: September 2014

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!