Monday, 2 February 2015


Starting off I think it's right to ask why about a few things.

Why did we vote to stay part of the UK?

To take the first point: {short version}  I believe we voted to stay within the UK because fundamentally any change is bloody scary and because we on the YES side failed to make our argument clearly or strongly enough to convince a vote for change on such an unprecedented and irreversible scale. Scotland voted to stay because, on top of the core pro-unionist voter who will never be swayed from their belief, we allowed - or failed to prevent - the  persistently fear-mongering tactics of the NO side hitting home into parts of the voting public who were not persuaded, or resilient, enough to come firmly into the YES camp and to stay there.

On top of that there was what has become known as 'THE VOW'. This promise of unspecified amounts of unspecified additional powers to be delivered faster, better and infinitely more safely than any unpredictable-leap-into-the-unknown scary vote for independence. It was held up {I believe against the spirit and the letter of 'The Edinburgh Agreement' which set out the process for the referendum} as a last ditch desperate offering by ex-prime minister Gordon Brown, taken up by Scotland's most prolific - and fervently pro-union - daily newspaper, The 'Daily Record' and instantly seized and promoted by the leaders of the three main UK political parties who had been seriously spooked by an opinion poll that showed the YES campaign to be in the lead with only a few days to go.

This more than anything is the reason why Scotland voted no. It's one of the main reasons I want to write about politics and try in a small way to move this forward. It, more than any other single thing affected the final outcome, but much more than that it is THE VOW that is almost single handedly responsible for the state of affairs we are left with now where no one is exactly sure what was voted on, was offered or has been promised to date. {At the point of writing nothing has been delivered. That is dependent on passing into legislation through Westminster after the nest UK elections in May 2015} There will be oh-so-much-more of that in the blog.

How ironic that the very 'vow' that was intended to keep us together may be the single biggest factor in the break up of the Union of Great Britain and Ireland. That would be irony to the max. Maybe I should call it Devo-irony!

Why do I feel this was the wrong decision?

Primarily because I absolutely believe in an independent Scotland as being the best option to build the kind of society I want to live in and to protect and nurture the most vulnerable parts of our society, promote the ideal and reality of an alternative to the purely neo-liberal economics based model that serves the majority so badly and the few so inordinately well. { I will explain what I mean by that in the future}

It was the wrong decision reflected by how many people are left feeling. This is partly due to having such a high percentage of people vote for independence, by the motivation and inspiration of the political argument and engagement across the country, but particularly within the YES movement, by the deceitful means which YES voters believe our campaign was lost and by the blatant chicanery of the political elite since the result.

 The YES vote was 45% of  population which was leaves a large part of the public naturally far from satisfied, not just by the result but especially due to that lack of clarity in the result clinching VOW and the winning sides predictably meek interpretation of it since the referendum result. What I and so many feared and expected is exactly what has happened with the three parties individually pulling back and denying the intention was ever to devolve anything like as much power as people were led to believe they were being promised. We feel cheated - and at the last hurdle. That's incredibly frustrating but, setting that aside, I accept the result of the referendum. Having been beaten by what so many feel was a campaign of dirty tricks, lies, media manipulation and complicity a large percentage of people are determined that if we don't have independence we should get what we feel was truly promised to sway the vote.

What exactly did we vote for by rejecting independence? No one really knows.That continues to sow discontent. Each of the main UK parties says they have been very clear about what was promised, but since that was never explained before the vote yet swathes of the general public seem to believe any promise falls far short of expectations and large numbers seem very unhappy about the chicanery that has happened since. There's been widespread and huge disappointment with what The Smith Commission recommended in trying to agree what powers should be devolved. Certainly it was never going to be enough for the SNP who along with the Scottish Green Party represented the YES campaign. Their aspiration was not for powers to be devolved simply where the UK Government felt comfortable, but for powers to be withheld only for a purpose - if they were incompatible devolved within the Union; powers such as defence, foreign policy and key measures of finance. They wanted the DEVO-MAX {maximum devolution} that could be interpreted, the 'federalism' and 'home rule' that was stated as being on offer by THE VOW and promoted by Gordon Brown.

Now proposals have been made it's clear that what is being devolved is far from realistic {to use many powers proposed will be 'toxic' by having negative effects through un-devolved powers}, practical {don't allow us the freedom to make policy reflect needs} or meets the balanced expectations of the Scottish people. {THE VOW - and remember at this point these have not been passed into statute by Westminster. That needs the approval of the UK parliament which is 85% English MP's with their own party and ideological agendas.}

Why do I feel the need to blog about it and why do I think anyone would want to read what I have to say?

I am going to blog about it because I'm bloody angry and I need to get it out there. I understand people were put off or scared by the scale of the decision, by the complexity of the economic arguments and the scare tactics that were used to prevent people seeing, believing and grasping the opportunities that independence offers. {I don't believe it would be easy or a 'land of milk and honey' - no utopia here} What I don't understand is that people can't see some of the fundamental things that are wrong in our modern political system, the blatant lies and distortions and the means of delivering them that are being used daily to fight an ideological war that is always about the people in power preserving their position. It's not about US. It's not about making a better, fairer, safer country and THAT'S WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT! We can be more than this. We should be more than this.

So frankly, I'm angry. To coin a phrase from a fellow blogger: "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

During the campaign I spoke to lots of people about the referendum. I turned some NO votes to YES. So, if I can do that some more I'll be happy {happier}. If I can get the message out there and make people stop and think - even if they don't change their mind, if I can get a few more people talking and thinking about what's going on now and how things could possibly be changed, how people could make a difference then that would be fantastic. If this blog could turn out to be a source of information that would be great.

I'm not an academic. I'm not an intellectual. I'm just an ordinary man in the street. This is going to be as much a journey for me as anyone else who may or may not come along. I have a vested interest and a political viewpoint, make no mistake about that. I welcome comment and challenge that makes me think about what I believe and why, what I do and how I do it, why we should change the system to make it work better than it does and why that's best done through the vehicle of an Independent Scotland. Time is on our side.

Come on in. There's plenty of room by the fire. If you're cold throw a coalition politician or newspaper magnate onto the flames. Porage will be served shortly.

1 comment:

  1. Hari OM
    (Sorry, am a bit behind in reading - but wanted to give this appropriate 'thinking space'...)

    Clearly stated case Alastair. I mumbled to any who would listen (which wasn't too many in my otherwise empty room) the minute I heard about the commission that to fall for that would be to fall for crumbs when what was wanted was the cake.

    It is proving itself so.

    One of the things I found interesting was that, for the most part, folk were willing to debate politics (not argy bargy them) - until 'thon yins frae London' started getting fully into the fray and stirred up the "they hate England' chestnut; that's when things became disorderly and all the old sores got picked at.

    The disappointment at the result was palpable. It's not over. Here's to 'paying attention'... YAM xx


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