Alex Salmond and Independence

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, June 26th 2010
Scottish politics are on the verge of their biggest shakeup for decades. A linked debate on the Calman commission, fiscal autonomy and the implications of the Budget and forthcoming cuts, will now be shaped by Alex Salmond’s repositioning of the SNP on the call for independence. Not since the early years of the Thatcher Government has Scotland politically faced the prospects of such fundamental and irreversible change.

Salmond shows the scale of his ambition and intent in an interview in Friday’s edition of the Scottish version of The Times with Magnus Linklater and Angus Macleod, the paper’s seasoned and respected Scottish Political Editor (1). In it the leader of the SNP has bowed to the inevitable on independence; the Nationalists don’t have the support in the Parliament, let along the country to win a ‘yes’ vote.

Salmond reflects on this, ‘The centre of gravity in Scottish politics currently is clearly not independence. You must campaign for what is good for Scotland as well as campaigning for independence.’

This is pretty big stuff. It is a major moment in the political lifetime of modern Scotland, which will carry ripples and consequences for years to come. It could prove to be the beginning of a new political era in Scotland, equivalent to the emergence of the SNP in the mid-1960s, or the early years of Thatcher and their cuts, which led to the ‘no mandate’ argument of the 1980s. It is that significant.

Salmond has surveyed both the political landscape of Scotland and the storm clouds gathering, and decided it is time to remake the political weather and even, if he can, reshape the geography as well. In the interview he restates the case for full fiscal autonomy,  ‘It is really important, in my view, to be able to say to people how we can change the circumstances and increase revenue as well as decreasing expenditure.’

He then, in a fascinating passage, shows the degree to which he has become a national leader, stating, ‘It is my job to come up with some answers, along with others. If you jump up and down nihilistically saying ‘dreadful dreadful, dreadful, cuts, cuts, cuts’, then I would be failing in my duty to the people.’

This is the sound of a statesman emerging and growing up, challenging his opponents including those in his own party (some of whom are his most deadly adversaries). This is a view of the importance of Salmond’s remarks shared by Alex Massie on ‘The Spectator’ online (2).

Salmond explicitly makes the comparison between the historic dimensions of now and how Thatcher unwittingly changed Scotland commenting:

I always like to think that Margaret Thatcher quite unwittingly turned what many people regarded as quite nice ideas – romantic even – about the Scottish Parliament, via the poll tax and other intrusive legislation, into a necessity. It ceased to be a nice idea, a good wheeze, into ‘Well, we’d better have that, otherwise the worst will happen’.

He then goes on to make the link between then and now and the campaign for fiscal autonomy:

People are saying ‘Are we just going to have the debate about how much spending we can cut, with the minimum damage to the fabric of society, or are we going to have a debate which also says, ‘Here’s a way to change the circumstances’ and I just wonder if what we’re seeing now is some of the pragmatic people saying ‘Well, this [is] more than a nice thing to have. It might be really rather than an important thing.

It will prove to be a huge moment in Scottish politics if the SNP has made explicit what can be termed its post-nationalism. If this is the case it changes everything in politics north of the border.

Many of the more thoughtful voices in Scottish Labour such as Wendy Alexander and Susan Deacon, have reflected on how Scottish politics would gain from the SNP evolving on the constitutional question. Alexander has previously talked of in the language of ending ‘Scotland’s 40 year walk in the park’, meaning its never-ending debate on the status of Scotland. Moving beyond this would allow us to focus on the economic and social issues which face the nation.

Salmond’s repositioning has the potential to throw down difficulties for Labour. An SNP which embraces a post-nationalist politics would be one that Labour – along with the likes of Vernon Bogdanor – could not name call as ‘separatists’. This might not matter much to Bogdanor, but it would to Scottish Labour, whose main uniting vision is its gut hatred of all things Scottish Nationalist. Deprived of this Scottish Labour – which may win next year’s Scottish Parliament elections and be back in office – may have to work out what it is about.

Salmond’s remarks have flung open a debate about the future of Scotland which carries with it the prospect of asking people to rethink the purpose and point of devolution, the Scottish Parliament, and the experience and record of the last decade.

That’s an exciting and overdue prospect. Scotland wasn’t able to address tough choices, issues or engage in new thinking during the good times when the monies flowed. Now this potentially exhilarating opportunity has been thrust upon us in hard times.

Notes

1. Magnus Linklater and Angus Macleod, ‘Do people realise how bad things are? No. Can we get out of it? Yes’, The Times (Scottish edition), June 25th 2010, pp. 8-9.

2. Alex Massie, Alex Salmond’s New Strategy: Say Hello to Reality’, The Spectator, June 25th 2010, http://www.spectator.co.uk/alexmassie/6103515/alex-salmonds-new-strategy-say-hello-to-reality.thtml

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of Gerry Hassan.

Read Gerry Hassan by visiting his blog: http://www.gerryhassan.com

Comments  

 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 08:37
It's PR. And necessary.

Nationalism has a bad image, too much mud stuck to it. And to be perfectly fair, this has been bolstered by the manic nat guard, the ones who shout at anyone remotely unsure about independence - duh. It's been outdone and done out.

Fiscal autonomy, however, has the appeal that nationalism should have had. It's seen as a positive, constructive way forward, untroubled by independence's baggage.

It's exactly the same road, however. Fiscal autonomy would prove the case for independence. And for the many 'some' (undecideds) that want it proved, this is of course welcomed.

Fiscal autonomy cannot have the romanticism and drama that so many neutrals find discouraging. Good, it mustn't. (Doesn't need too - see above.) In one way Salmond must not overplay FA, must not "over-nationalise" it.

Fiscal autonomy is the goal. Now, how will the unionist politicians argue against it?
 
 
# spagan 2010-06-26 09:39
I think that AS is correct in moving on a gradualist path - but we need to continue to challenge the idea that "nationalism has a bad image".
From inside New Zealand or Canada or Croatia or the mighty Slovenia - I doubt if their populations view it that way.
There may be a handful of Colonial Monarchists in Canada or New Zealand who believe that it was a "bad day we left the Empire". There may also be a few ex-Stalinists who hanker back to the days when power lay in the mighty Federal Capital.
The bottom line is that the vested interests of Westminster and the City of London will fight tooth and claw to retain us while we still have some "value" to them.
A bit like the dualling of the A9, self-determination I'd like to see sonner rather than later!
Slainte Mhor
 
 
# kevinad72 2010-06-26 08:49
Agree with above, it is so much a technical issue about having the right levers, and being able to set the right priorities instead of being hamstrung.
The answer to the question of not overnationalisi ng this is already there - the case for fiscal responsibility has already been conceded by the other parties, and this needs to be pointed out - but the question needs to be put to them 'why responsibility but not full fiscal autonomy' because in an abstract sense you cannot morally have responsibility without rights.
Read the article in the Spectator without much pleasure
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 22:50
Good point re case for fiscal autonomy. And agreed, I think fiscal autonomy is about the practical nature of responding to our current situation, and is something most pragmatic Scots can relate to - if you step right back and view us as a body of beings on this planet! ;-)
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 10:41
Fiscal authority is what most people can relate to, and also find attractive.
Nationalism on the other hand is simply not working at present. If it did, then the SNP would have made significant gains in both the recent general election and the previous scottish election.
It's not a case of "too wee" or "too stupid" etc, but rather a case of "why?".
The cringe factor is most definitely there. Tartan knickers, shortbread tins and kilts are rarely seen outside weddings in Scotland. That is not to say that most Scots are patriotic, far from it. But they prefer to keep their nationalism for specific events: highland games, Hogmany, and whenever England are playing football!
The worst argument is my mind that is used to promote independence is "freedom". Nothing to do with Mel Gibson. But when you tell most Scots that independence will set them free, most will answer "from what?".
It's a fact that must be accepted. How are we different to the English? We can work, live, eat and relax how we want, as long as it is within the law. I can move to England, work in Wales and holiday in Ireland. I am free to drive my car, I am free to gamble, I am free to wave the Saltire where and when I want.
Freedom in its most general form causes the independence movement more problems than any other in my view.
Economic arguments will votes over, not romanticism. Not in these troubled times. Fiscal authority is the only path to winning the independence argument. I keep saying this on numerous blogs: most people need a tangible reason for change. They must experience the direct benefits of fiscal authority before they will change. Talk about "sacrifices" doesn't wash if you are one who is being sacrificed.

The SNP absolutely must keep independence as it's core objective. But they must show that they will achieve this is through sound government and strong fiscal control. They have achievement the first part. Their governance so far has been generally good. True, there have been some hiccups, but no government is error free. What is needed is for fiscal authority to be given to Scotland.

(apologies for the post being a bit untidy, I'm going out!)
 
 
# Mac 2010-06-26 11:41
Two truths emerge from this;

1. Alex Salmond once more demonstrates that he is a gradualist.

2. If Scotland had fiscal autonomy the country would NOT be facing huge cuts to its public services.

The rallying calls are.

a. Scotland needs more powers. A march to more independence would mean social stability and more economic growth.

b. Unionism now means hardship for all, the old, the disabled, the young, working families and the poor.
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 13:19
I cannot agree with point 2 Mac, simply because we have not had fiscal autonomy so you cannot say we would have be ok. There is not evidence one way or the other. Arguments like that don't work. It is the same as Alistair Darling saying that if Labour had won the 1979 election the UK would be in a certain position.
 
 
# Mac 2010-06-26 13:58
It is now generally recognised by economists and businesses that the Scottish economy would be improved by fiscal autonomy.

A Scottish economic stimulus by fiscal means would protect growth and allow the Scottish economy to escape the worst of this recession. This has already been argued for.

One obvious point is that a strong emergent economy would secure the Scottish public sector. There would be no need for deep and prolonged cuts. No social divison.

Another benefit of fiscal autonomy would be the setting up of an oil fund. Those monies would help protect and promote all sectors of the Scottish economy, securing our economic future.

Calman will NOT protect Scots from dangerous cuts to public services, that will surely effect future generations, but fiscal autonomy would.

This is a political arguement, not an economic or social one. Those arguements have already been one.

The message is simple.

Unionism BAD

Nationalism GOOD
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 17:10
I interpreted your original point as saying "if we had had fiscal authority", rather than getting it in the future. My thoughts are on the same line as when people said the banking crisis would never have happened if Scotland had been independent, which again was an assumption without any evidence.
 
 
# m4rkyboy 2010-06-26 12:03
I am apprehensive,re member that the unionist media will pounce on this sort of compromise as an admission of having been wrong-already,the Daily Record are jumping on Alex's comments and twisting them with misquotes and taking them out of context-a shocking set of circumstances considering they are deleting any comment that points this out to them.
Now,if this is a necessary step to independence then,i guess,i should embrace it,but,if it is meant to be placatory towards the moderates-some sort of happy middle ground-then i feel that it could be a betrayal of our core principle.
I have read the Times article and it struck me as being an acknowledgement of the deficit as being the no1 priority for the SNP-a responsible and mature thing to do-maybe the press are overgilding the lily in regards to their reporting of the significance of Alex's comments?It is hard to tell without knowing what question's he had been asked-also,this seemed to be a select choice of soundbites,chos en for maximum impact.The Daily Mail,for instance,lead with: END OF A DREAM Salmond admits Scots don't want to break up UK,but refuses to axe referendum plan 'the centre of gravity is clearly...not independence'.
Remarkably,i take comfort in a quote from Iain Gray:'This is just a Trojan horse and no one will be fooled by it'.Considering the standard of reporting,it looks possible that some might.
 
 
# Mac 2010-06-26 12:39
The number one priority for the SNP government is the deficit. Fiscal autonomy would greatly lesson the blow to public services in Scotland and
undo any potential long term damage to the overall economy.

The number one priority for the SNP, the party, is independence, be it gradual or not. There will be a referendum on Scottish independence - it is the great unasked question, there can be political process but without an answer to that question there can be no resolution.
 
 
# Barontorc 2010-06-26 13:00
The media are against AS and anything positive by the SNP - this is a fact.

The media control the information flow to the voting public - another fact.

The media are controlled by the unionista who make government policies under pressure from, or with the support of other political parties and the LIB-DEMS are on the point of revolting - another solid fact.

The gradualist line taken by AS to push for Fiscal Autonomy for Scotland will in effect reduce the deficit burden on the rest of the UK populace - a fact in waiting - and yet to be seen, but very difficult to counter argue - so what do the attack media now do?

I am impressed with this initiative and happier in my mind that SNP strategists are alive and well. Get after the minds and hearts of the voting public and keep the attack media at bay.
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 13:32
Because the media is against the SNP, the party must tread extremely carefully over the next few months.

Every slipup by a member of the SNP, be it politician, councillor or party member with a blog, is going to get the full treatment. How frustrating must it be for the SNP leadership when some party member makes an idiotic comment on some blog? The Glasgow City Council issues last year were a golden opportunity for the SNP, only to be blown out of the water by a foolish email.

You only have to look at BwB and read some of the more extreme comments and wonder what the hell they are thinking.

Too much is at stake over the next 10 months or so.

--------------------

With regards to Alex Salmond's stance, I was always under the impression that he always has been a gradualist, whereas someone like Alex Neil is the complete opposite.
 
 
# JRTomlin 2010-06-26 13:43
It's nonsense that the Purcell resignation would have gone any differently without that email. The media was always going to ignore the matter except for anything that could be turned on the SNP and that's what happened. Without that, it still would have been ignored.

As far as Salmond being a gradualist, if you look at his early comments, he is not. What he IS is a pragmatist. He will take the way to independence that he thinks will work and in the present political climate, gradualism looks like the way that has a chance of working.
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 17:13
On Purcell, while I agree the media were being soft, the fact of the matter is that email allowed the media to come charging through with a different slant on the story.

As to Salmond, he has not suddenly become a pragmatist overnight. There are those in the party (Sillars included I believe) who feel he should have been pressing much harder much earlier, and made their views known quite some time ago.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 22:44
I don't think that was what enneffess was saying. The e-mail offered an easy road to take the focus away from Labour scandal. No, Labour would not have got any more coverage, but the lack of would have been in our attention, not this new thing, the e-mail. So, yeah, we totally didn't need it.
 
 
# Vakov2000 2010-06-26 16:29
The problem of image seems to relate only to Scottish nationalism. As the media is hyping british nationalism constantly. Even today armed forces day is so obviously conceived as a vehicle for british nationalism. Surprise surprise next year Scotland is going to get a chance to get the union flags out! The reason Scottish Nationalism is getting a hard time is due to mass propaganda by the british media. I find the idea of abandoning or playing down the ultimate reason why someone would be a Scottish Nationalist bizarre and plays directly into the hands of our brit rulers.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 22:39
Re Scottish nationalism - of course, but as you've recognised this is deliberate!

How is being more like what they slag us for, which far too many Scottish voters give credence to remember, going to help or further things in any way? No, THAT is handing it on a plate to our Brit "masters".

Taking the pragmatic, more successful, and voter friendly approach of seeking to obtain fiscal autonomy is not abandoning our reasons for independence - it will achieve independence.
We don't abandon anything, we are being clever. (...unless we are in a wee huff???)
 
 
# Clare 2010-06-26 18:52
I've decided I don't like the way Gerry Hassan writes. It is nothing personal but his articles don't connect with me. I really do believe he misses a great deal. This one contains a number of statements which, for many of us, are nothing new at all. For a start Alex Salmond grew up a long time ago and it isn't something that has just happened. He has also long possessed statesmanlike qualities which many of his contemporaries can only envy.

Anyone, in the current economic climate, who believes independence is the centre of gravity in Scottish politics is a fool. Salmond is no fool.

I do not believe Salmond is playing down independence: I think he is simply acknowledging that the battle for ground in Scottish politics is going to be about other things, first and foremost the economy. That is definitely more urgent.

When the SNP won power in Scotland I was in debates with many nationalists who wanted the fight to begin then. I argued that day to day business was more important and the SNP needed to prove themselves worthy of bearing the responsibility of that. They are doing this but they had to get at least a parliamentary term under their belt first. To come in and say, "Let's have a referendum now." would have been to say day to day business doesn't matter. And it does matter.

Sillars is a traitor and nothing more. He has stabbed his own colleagues in the back more times than I can count and he should put up or shut up. Sillars is full of rage that he did not get voted into that job and that is all it is about. That is destructive and it is also breathtakingly selfish. I think, personally, it is sad too. Sillars could have gone so far and been a tremendous asset if he could only put Jim Sillars aside. Scotland is not about Sillars, nor is the SNP. I respect the qualities Sillars had, note the past tense, but his monumental tantrum has cost him my respect at least. For he used it to hurt his own Party and no one should ever do that. Other prominent members have had issues with Salmond and worked them out. That is the mature approach. NFS mentionied Alex Neill for example. Sillars chose to sulk and snipe from the sidelines. That is despicable. It has done great damage also. Not clever. It has also exposed the fact that Sillars was not fit to take on the top job.

Salmond can relate across the board to people which is what frightens Labour. Proving who Scotland is and what Scotland can achieve is important. Marching up and down the streets demanding independence proves nothing whatsoever and achieves less still.

Wendy's fake "bring it on" was something Salmond responded to magnificently by stating that the SNP would not be dictated to by Labour on the issue of a referendum but would stick by their manifesto commitment to govern Scotland well first and prove themselves. He felt Scotland deserved to judge him, and his government. That is the sign of a fair man. Alexander's tactics were the sign of a dishonest woman. For had she not been less than five minutes out the door when Duncan MacNeill admitted her "bring it on" was a bluff! Errrr, some of us knew that at the time.

If those within the SNP who do not like Salmond decide now to attack him on indepdence and weaken the Party they will be playing straight into the hands of Labour and the others. And ultimately they will cost us all dear.
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 19:24
Very good post Clare. The good thing is that Sillars is sidelined nowadays, and as you said, Alex Neil has recognised that the party comes first, not the individual. That is mature politics.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 22:52
Yes, on Gerry, but perhaps he is viewing things "from the outside", with a mind to how they are viewed outside of the SNP circle. They're obviously not going to be up to speed and thus perception led to an extent.
 
 
# Clare 2010-06-27 10:34
Hi Eye-write. I'm not inside the SNP circle and my observations are based on maintaining an interest in Scottish politics. If I can see these things why can't someone who is meant to be writing about these things for a living?
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-27 18:51
Actually, yes, what I offered was a reason, and not an excuse. So I quite agree with you.
Suppose I'd given him the benefit of the doubt, no reason to suppose otherwise, but I'm not impressed.
 
 
# GrassyKnollington 2010-06-26 19:18
Oh lordy, a new era for Scottish politics.
I take it we're all unionists now!

The idea that Alex Salmond has somehow ditched independence is manna from heaven for people like Gerry Hassan and for some commenters.

The fabled fiscal autonomy in a leftie, post New Labour fuzzy academic Northern region is dear Gerry's heart's desire.

Fable's the word though folks. The idea that Westminster will ever grant such a thing ESPECIALLY with the threat of a looming independence referendum removed is pure fantasy.

The people who want to take Scottish history, tartan, Scottish culture and yes even shortbread and keep them in a box marked "old sad loonies, not funky, happening, forward thinking dudes like us" might reflect on what pressures brought about the devolution and degree of self government they currently enjoy and why they think toning down the whole "nationalism" thing is going to take them any further.

If we are to be a region of the UK who collectively decide we would be better off running our own financial affairs but without what some have denounced as the tedious Scottish baggage, we might as well be in Gateshead or the Rhondda Valley.

Actually I think Gerry would be pretty happy with that set up. I don't want to see the SNP downgraded to the status of Labour or the Lib Dems with no aspiration greater than spending Westminster pocket money.

Salmond was merely being pragmatic which is essential in the current climate.

He's been around politics too long to think Scotland will advance much without the SNP independence threat.

"Softly softly catchy monkey" is not "Ditch the kilt and fight for Calman plus" whatever assorted unionists and nat bashers will have you believe.
 
 
# Vakov2000 2010-06-26 21:36
I agree it appears the solution to fighting the unionists is to become them! The only party that offers an alternative is going to abandon the alternative!
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:55
Nope. You outwit them. What's your alternative?
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 23:10
My later post refers to your last sentence there btw.

But, on fiscal autonomy, no, Westminster isn't going to "grant" such a thing as easily as I've just typed it (sort of ;-). What will happen is they'll go through as much "optional thinking" as they can to present some plan that looks like it is fiscal autonomy, but will be unfair, and unworkable, which they will automatically blame at Scotland's door - a trap. They will go to great lengths to paint that it says fiscal autonomy on the tin. It won't. They will rely on the public not having the knowledge to understand it, and that dissenters can be just palmed off as excitable naysayers who would argue with their shadow.

Apart from the fact they are b@st@rds, they have form on this - the devolution tax varying powers are a match for part of the Canadian federal taxation system, apparently, but tinkered so as that they are unfair, a lose-lose situation for Scotland (and of course they have never been used) - nice.

So I suppose what I am saying is we will have to expect them to do that, not say a word obviously (let on) and outmaneuver them by putting our case better, more simply, and more trustworthily than the British.

I'd recommend having think tanks of our own to try and figure what the British are likely to try. (Someone is probably already advising that.) We know them so well, we need just say, what would we do in their situation...
I'm not an economist, but I bet the answers are there (bound to be basic general options, based on what the Brits cannot/must not allow/have). It's war strategy. Bet someone's already thought of it.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:14
This is the way it is - see it or move aside:
There isn't much hope of selling independence in an uncertain economic climate, it's like starting a business in one. But it is likely and understandable to want to reassess your finances/financial arrangements and restructure them for better in economic uncertainty, which is what fiscal autonomy is.
One seems necessary, sensible, wise etc., the other bizarre.

Of course it is wrong that nationalism gets a bad press, but that job has been done. Get over it - you won't change it by whinging like a....nationalist. There's no "nat-bashing" in that - I support us! But real support is focused on achieving, not justifying. See above.

The other big problem is....(cont.)
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:20
(cont.) in addition to the tartan cringe blighting nationalism in this country, there is another "biggie" problem, Britishness. It's a bother because it promises this antidote to the "pettiness" of nationalism in the apparent protection and serenity of being above it all: comfy subconscious superiority in ignoring it, confidence in in this security blanket.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:26
The problem faced in unpicking Britishness is this: it offers this importance that's bigger than any other nation, because it's Britain. It's special. All we have in alternative is ordinary, Scotland is just another small country - where's the appeal. To those who feel British it's like swapping a Bentley for a Fiesta - it might run better, make financial sense and be modern and the rest, but it doesn't offer...well, the same notoriety. It isn't better.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:32
It isn't better, as I say. But perhaps more importantly, it isn't as good. OK, we know Scottishness has had a bashing, and look, the British political network in general is hell bent on it and, to give them their due, do a very effective job. They are good at being b@st@rds. But it doesn't mean we lose, it just means we know our enemy. We should pay close attention to this, and not get caught up in how right we are, it's nothing to do with that! It's politics.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:45
I have felt that an effective route to dis-empower this Britishness (as it prevents pro-independence and SNP votes and support) was perhaps to disentangle the myth from the reality - state the ingrained and diverse ways in which it, Britain, is so unholy as undemocratic. Contrast with other federal countries etc.

There would be an effectiveness in it, like, with independence, presenting the facts as is, how things are now, versus the status once independent, no analysis just plain facts. An easily digestible prospectus (or manifesto - bad connotations :-/) for independence.

I WOULD do both these approaches, you know it's robust information...but facts just seem to bounce off people. Unless they are already interested, and by then they already have their own 'facts' that they are not intent on changing. You know, it's just fun for them by then. And it ain't how most of us get our fun!
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 22:06
So, it appears an obstacle we face is this latent, habitual lingering, confidence-bestowing feeling of Britishness, this feeling that thinks anything that questions it is just nonsense. For if it isn't, "I'm not as big". ("As long as I am British, it's OK.") It's not logical.
 
 
# Vakov2000 2010-06-26 21:38
A story is created and everyone takes it as read.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-26 21:46
What you on about Vakov2000? ;-)
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-26 22:40
I may repeat some points already made, so apologies in advance. I'm going to bullet point things rather than go in War and Peace.

Alex Salmond has for a long time looked at the gradualist approach.

If people can't see the benefit of change, they won't move.

If the media is against you, then get those who wish to be candidates knocking on doors!

People are allowed to make their own minds up as to what they want. Slagging them off is counter productive.

The romantic approach has failed. Time for the economic one.
 
 
# MartinOfBothwell 2010-06-27 00:01
Utter biased garbage from Hassan, as is usual.

An unworthy piece.
 
 
# MartinOfBothwell 2010-06-27 00:09
Clare: "I've decided I don't like the way Gerry Hassan writes."

Me neither. And he's even worse on the telly. So full of himself, so pumped up on the delusion of his own intellectualy prowess.

Yet I honestly can't see that big a differenece between him and Alan Cochrane, intellectually.

It's amazing how well these guys get paid for this stuff.
 
 
# Diabloandco 2010-06-27 04:25
Well said Clare!
 
 
# Online Editor 2010-06-27 08:50
Our apologies for taking our eye of the ball a bit with regards to comment policing. Some posts here have now been edited to remove personal attacks and/or insults.

Unfortunately these remained published too long and led to a few tit for tat responses.

Can we urge people to post comment that is devoid of insult, especially towards article contributors who generously provide their work for free.

Constructive and qualified criticism is encouraged as is passionate debate, however gratuitious swipes at others is not acceptable.

Do we really wish to end up with a site that has comments that are indistinguishab le from The Scotsman site?
 
 
# mato21 2010-06-27 08:55
As I read through the posts this morning my immediate thought was Oh No as I have said previously no one need feel intimitaded by posting here and I for one would hope it remains that way Thanks Ed
 
 
# brusque 2010-06-27 10:44
I have always enjoyed a bit of healthy disagreement in a debate, indeed I have often positioned myself as "Devil's Advocate" just to stir things up a bit.......................however, personal attacks on posters put me in mind of the (extremely wanting) Labour Party Leader during FMQs, and quite frankly I am always disgusted by the venom which he, and his cohorts, spit from their snake pit.

Please don't let us have that here, where so far we have been privileged enough to make our points, state our positions and argue in a constructive manner with those who have an open mind, and not people whose sole purpose is to obfuscate and disrupt. The reason I can write a post like this is because Newsnet Scotland encourages open debate, and does not seek to dumb us down to the extent that every comment has to be moderated. Let's try to keep it that way?
 
 
# Clare 2010-06-27 11:39
Anyone else having trouble viewing Gerry's piece today on the "Scots Psyche"? I keep getting a "You are not authorised." message. Managed to view it on Gerry's own site and I would very much like to comment on the piece as it is complete nonsense. One comment on his own site declares:

"Please stop being so patronising to Scots. I know it is very trendy to be so amongst the chattering classes, and has you tittering into your Lattes, but it is predictable cringe, and boring guff. The Anglo Saxon supremacists thrive on it.

How about you do some research on the forums of the Daily Mail, Guido, and The Telegraph to name but a few, when the subject of Scotland comes up and the racist bigotry that vents from the spleens of English knuckle draggers on there. It is easy to find, it is all bubbling away, so please see both sides of the story, it ain’t pretty.

Be big enough to do some more research and then have the good grace to apologise and with draw your remark."

The piece attempts to say this is just all about football when our issues with the English are about far more serious matters. My biggest gripe with many English people is about the lie repeatedly re-cycled that Scotland scrounges from them, that Scotland is carried by them and that Scotland contributes nothing to the Union. Football doesn't even come into it!
 
 
# mato21 2010-06-27 11:41
Hi Clare having exactly the same problem sent an email but no reply yet last time I checked
 
 
# Online Editor 2010-06-27 12:00
Sorry guys, we have now sorted the problem with the 'ABE' article.
 
 
# Dougthedug 2010-06-27 12:03
This is the comment I added to the article on Gerry's site and on the same article on the Ourkingdom site. opendemocracy.net/.../...

Since the Times is now behind a paywall as pointed out I can’t comment on the actual article but I think you’re reading a lot into not very much Gerry.

  • Salmond acknowledged that the desire for independence is not the majority view in Scotland at the moment.
    Salmond wants more powers for the Scottish Parliament.


This is common knowledge. What he didn’t say is that the SNP will give up its core aim of an independent Scotland.

The wet-dream of most unionists is for the SNP to renounce its aim of independence and to turn into an ersatz Lib-Dem party with tartan on. The SNP will then spend the rest of their political life fighting Labour for control of the block-grant in the Scottish Parliament as a regional pressure group in a battle of local politics which will neither threaten the British State nor the Labour party in Scotland.

Salmond knows as well as anyone that fiscal autonomy within the UK is a pipe dream. Even with the SNP on the up and running the Scottish Government the best the Unionist parties could come up with in Calman was an increase on the unused 3p in the pound income tax variation power to a 10p in the pound limit. Increasing the limits on a never used power and then declaring it as a massive step towards fiscal autonomy is propaganda of the highest order.

“Fiscal-autonomy”, for Scotland will not happen with Scotland as part of the UK but if the SNP do give up their aim of Scottish independence and turn into “post-nationalists”, or, “unionists”, as we call them, then without the threat of nationalism nobody will even bother to talk about it because the need to divert attention from nationalism and the SNP will have gone.

Salmond’s playing a clever game. He’s being very reasonable and asking for fiscal-autonomy within the UK knowing full well that Westminster can never deliver that and the only alternative is independence.
 
 
# eye_write 2010-06-27 14:42
Agreed, Salmond must have a plan for all manoeuvrings, or non-ones! Your scenario sounds likely actually, if we can manage to show what the unionists offer is not fiscal autonomy, and clear cut...It'll be interesting, as usual!
 
 
# Vakov2000 2010-06-27 12:22
That's the problem when you have to rely on the corrupt and lying unionist press. You can never believe much of anything they print.
 
 
# snowthistle 2010-06-28 12:25
not sure how we can counter that one, they undoubtedly do a lot of damage but what can we do about it?
 
 
# m4rkyboy 2010-06-29 00:12
So,the big debate is whether the gradualist approach is prudent-considering the response to gung-ho nationalism-or whether it is a betrayal?

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Alvin Toffler

I think that a maleable SNP,one that can shift with the weight of public opinion,look at the challenges it faces and react accordingly,is the party that we should be.Stubbornly refusing to accept change can be detrimental to your ability to respond-the branch that doesn't bend under the weight of the snow,snaps.Independece is still the goal-contrary to what has been reported-Alex Salmond is just responding to the political landscape in a shrewd,calculat ed manner.
 
 
# enneffess 2010-06-29 23:40
To be successful in politics you must make concessions and be open to negotiation. That does not mean you surrender your policies/goals, but ensure you have a reality check every so often.
 
 
# brh206 2010-06-30 08:01
For me the whole debate is about responsibility, it's about democracy and it's about choice.
I am 42 and probably became aware of politics in the early 80's when a lot of people , my father included, had to suffer the indignity of years on the dole because of a Labour mess. We are now going to face that again.
But my point, we have never had a serious grown up debate about what we think our country is, where it's going, and who should decide. I do support the SNP but it has bnever been about oil, or England, it's always been about self determination and the right to choose. Our politicians and definately our media do us all a dis-service in their lack of honest grown up debate. If AS is moving toward that then that can only be a good thing. His big problem is going to be getting the other parties and the media to join a grown up debate. Sadly Labour and the two Torry parties, along with the media and the BBC won't want that to happen, so it's down to us the voters to try and make it happen.

Fingers crossed.
 

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