By Derek Bateman
Yet another community gathering to debate the referendum and no one from the No campaign present.
It really is well named No Thanks. Four times the people in the Borders made polite requests for a Better Together guest to represent the Unionist case in West Linton, four times they were ignored and eventually turned down. The explanation, after the rudeness, was that they only send speakers to events they themselves organise.

And there in a sentence is the ethos of the top-down, controlled, PR-managed project that is afraid of the people and the heat of debate. Project fear indeed – fear of democracy. I suppose as long as the landowners and corporate moguls bung in their cash and the conventional media spreads the word, there is no need of positive engagement. Just what real Labour people make of this estrangement from the people is anyone’s guess – they’re remaining quiet, or is it comatose.

I’ve said before, Labour’s involvement in this tawdry and insulting affair will be long remembered after any No vote and if, as now looks likely, they fail to win the UK election next year and can’t deliver anything for Scotland, derision will be poured over them up to and beyond the Holyrood vote in 2016. Labour could ‘win’ the referendum and lose their soul.

It’s a pity too because in a well-off, picture postcard village in the Borders there were No voters, some English-reared, who have happily settled in Scotland and are at ease with extra powers but who can’t quite grasp the concept of losing Britain which, as one man said, is his real identity, not England. They would have benefited from hearing a rational case against national self-determination from a committed No spokesman. It doesn’t do the Union cause any good that their own natural supporters who are sufficiently engaged to turn up in the village hall on a sunny evening, have only Yes voices to answer their worries.

But then it isn’t comfortably-off English folk making a contented life in Scotland that bother the No side. (I now call them Better Together? No Thanks). Their job is to terrify Labour voters into line. They have the numbers to swing this vote, they are vulnerable to appeals that a better life must be possible and they have no respect for their party leadership north or south.

They do have concerns about making it work but they’ll take that risk because, frankly, the UK fails them. They look around at their surroundings, their lifestyle, falling income, long hours, friends and family reliant on benefits – now being cut – and a Britain run by Tories every 10 years, and have nothing to stop them voting Yes.

The only hurdle is that to them this is the SNP’s project and they’re not SNP, not nationalists, not natural bedfellows. Which is why No constantly refers to independence as Salmond’s project – aided by lazy BBC journalism, I notice. They must brand it as a dangerous nationalist dream otherwise Labour voters might wake up to the truth – that Yes is an all-encompassing, left-of-centre grassroots movement that wants to spread our national wealth across all communities, changing lives and caring for all.

Last night’s meeting was addressed by Carol Fox, three times a Labour Party candidate, with social work experience and now an employment lawyer, committed to women’s rights and equality in the workplace. ‘I am not a nationalist’, she says.

Here is a Labour woman who sees the current party and the current UK system have been proved to be ineffective in lifting people up. She sees how Scotland making its own decisions can mould policies to meet our needs. Not cutting ourselves off, but simply by taking the power that allows us to run our affairs and co-operate where that is mutually beneficial.

Labour voters ask if that can’t done within the Union. The answer is Yes. If there was a will to make that happen, the skeleton of Union could be retained and virtually all decision-making devolved. But no Westminster politician will surrender those powers, that’s not why they’re in politics – to give it away. Their offer is scant, stripped down it means raising more tax in Scotland with a cut in London support funding. That cannot transform Scotland and cannot overcome poverty or dismal lives. It doesn’t deliver more funding, as Johann Lamont admits.

And if that was their plan, they could have put it in the referendum to get it endorsed and to make sure it would happen.

So Labour is reduced to what every thinking voter knows is a scandalous and mendacious campaign of threating people’s incomes and jobs – Johann and Margaret Curran are in the papers today proudly announcing that their mighty Union will declare Clyde shipbuilders foreigners, throw them out of work and close the yards. And they’re smiling…Johann wears the same smile she had when opening the food bank. What pride.

Any socialist, no matter how disillusioned with the party, must realise this is the end game…that even in victory, if it happens, this can’t go on. These are not the politics of inclusion and progress, this is managing decline. With Balls, Rachel Reeves and Chris Leslie all spelling out the grim truth – that Labour will not reverse a single Tory cut and Reeves boasting they will be tougher than the Tories – Labour is shackled like Houdini, writhing for escape before the air runs out.

No one I know in Labour thinks Lamont is a leader or that she will carry on. No one believes Miliband will be Prime Minister. We now know that if, by accident, he was, his spending policies are those of Tory austerity.

When you consider what Labour could have been offering with their own Devo Max, the dreams they could have ignited, the triumphant campaign meetings across Scotland – even in West Linton – this is a puzzling and depressing episode for historians to pick over.

We can’t wait for history. It’s time to make some of our own and people who can’t even stand up and defend their view don’t deserve our respect. That includes you, Prime Minister.

Courtesy of Derek Bateman


# From The Suburbs 2014-06-25 07:32
BBC often refers to "the pro UK side" but never "the pro Scotland side", preferring to use the term nationalists but ignoring many of those who are supporting Yes are democrats rather than nationalists.
# Breeks 2014-06-25 08:02
They may be saying it just for my benefit, but there are a number of English people I come into contact regularly, and most have a healthy understanding and respect for Scotland's independence aspirations. They might be flattering my own position, (my vehicle carries YES stickers), but that isn't the impression I get. They seem keen to engage, and reveal a level of awareness which I find refreshing. The hardest cynics Ive come across have been Scottish, but ironically have not been keen to engage, but trot out Unionist anti Salmond invective they don't then want to discuss. They seem frustrated/angry as soon as the topic is raised, even if it happens to be them who raised it.

A twist on DevoMAX however. For those committed to more powers, I suggest that if DevoMAX was THE perfect scenario, there would be nothing to stop an independent Scotland seeking perfection & devolving powers to England. They work out the absurdity for themselves.
# Will 2014-06-25 10:53
Breeks cites his opinions as evidence for what 'most' English people think. A Sunday Express poll found that
62 per cent overall of people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland feel that both Scotland and the rest of the union would be stronger if they remained united, an increase of eight per cent over a YouGov survey taken at the beginning of February.
In the 2,060 person poll conducted by Vision Critical, 54 per cent supported the decision by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband not to allow a newly independent Scotland to share the pound.
# Will Mcewan 2014-06-25 22:12
And who are Vision Critical?
They are an American based company that specialises in identifying information that helps companies and corporations sell things better.
They are not an accredited polling company and they obviously are unaware that any country can use the pound whether Cameron, Clegg and Milliband like it or not.
What people who don't reside in Scotland think about whether the union remains united is interesting perhaps but entirely irrelevant.

What English people living in Scotland think is very important. I personally have had dozens of them sign the independence declaration and the signs are tha theywillvote YES just as stronglyas native born Scots.

YouGov polls are risable generally and were so far out in voting prediction right up to the final weeks of the 2011 election that nobody should ever take them seriously
# Marian 2014-06-26 07:46
Its reported on the BBC website that Murdo Fraser the Tory MSP is having a fantasy moment today as he gives a speech at Glagow University calling for a Federal UK!
# Auld Rock 2014-06-26 12:30
Did you all notice that the 'bowler hat brigade' have registered with the electoral commission. Guess I'll have to get my flute out again, LOL.

But seriously did you see Better Together trying to distance themselves on the Bettertogether Broadcasting Corpn last night. Should be good for a barra load of votes for 'YES'.

Auld Rock
# Will 2014-06-26 14:47
The SNP claims Scotland could leave the union with Britain yet have a bigger say in our decisions. It wants political and fiscal union with the EU, but monetary union with Britain, just when the EU is telling its members that they can’t have monetary union without political and fiscal union.
If Scotland adopted the pound without a currency and fiscal union, it would not control the economy. It would have no central bank services such as lender of last resort. This ‘sterlingisatio n’ would cause huge problems for Scotland’s financial services.
Finance Secretary John Swinney has threatened that an SNP administration would default on its £130 billion share of debt if Britain refused to share the pound. He warned of a ‘devastating impact’ on public finances in Britain.
# snowthistle 2014-06-26 15:14
Here's a radical thought Will, do we need a lender of last resort?

Perhaps a lender of last resort encourages bankers to take crazy risks in the certain knowledge that they will be bailed out if it all goes belly up?

Guarantee savings and if the banks want to gamble on dodgy debts and derivatives then on their own heads be it.

The IMF advises that countries should not blanket guarantee entire financial services sectors
# Gordon Murray 2014-06-26 19:35
At the risk of pedantry I should point out that Britain is an island and referendum or not, unless someone redefines the laws of physics our union with Britain is permanent. What we will dissolve is our Treaty of Union with England. The UK is Scotland and England.
Scotland requires to share Sterling with the former UK only to prevent a collapse of the currency and the English economy. We need them to be able to buy our goods and services.
The UK has not posted a +ve balance since 1983. We recall the IMF intervention before that and 30% inflation etc.
We've cashed in our gold bullion to rely on oil to underwrite the currency.
Without Scottish GDP and oil revenues the Treasury will have no way to reduce borrowing and prevent the national debt soaring out of control. The markets will scent blood and go into a feeding frenzy on the carcass of the fUK economy.
Who will be their saviour?
# Will 2014-06-27 09:20
Gordon, thank you for your thoughtful response. So, if Scotland breaks away, this would, in your view, cause a collapse of the pound and of the economy. The national debt would soar out of control and the markets would destroy the economy to which 70 per cent of Scottish nonoil exports go, accounting for nearly a third of overall Scottish GDP. And you support breaking this Union?
# mmarsattacks 2014-06-27 14:03
Will - It would appear that you are conflating the issue of political union with that of currency union. Scotland becoming politically independent would not cause a collapse of the pound and the economy of Southern Britain. A foolish and spiteful decision by George Osbourne (or his successor) to refuse to countenance the continuation of currency union might just do that. I am no fan of the man, but I don't think he's quite as stupid as all that. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that his pronouncements on the subject are purely campaign talk. Realpolitik will be the order of the day post September.
# Will 2014-06-27 15:20
mmarsattacks, I was responding to Gordon's assertion, "Scotland requires to share Sterling with the former UK only to prevent a collapse of the currency and the English economy." This appears to claim that monetary union would be necessary, after political union had been dissolved, in order to prevent the consequent collapse of the pound and the economy. Dissolving the Union is a more likely cause of a collapse of the pound and the economy, than a decision not to allow a breakaway Scotland to use the pound.
Tory, Labour and LibDem parties have all said they will not allow this - you are gambling everything on your belief that they are all bluffing.
# Breeks 2014-06-27 17:11
Not true Will. In a currency union, Scotland's exports would be traded in Sterling and contributing to the balance of trade. If Scotland started its own currency then, Sterling would lose some 10% of its economy and assets, but still be liable for all the Treasuries debt. By 'denying' Scotland a currency union, the UK would be shooting itself in the foot. They struggle to pay for their borrowing already, and the Treasury was obliged to admit it would honour its debts in full to calm anxieties in the money markets. Alex Salmond has committed Scotland to a contribution towards the UK debt, but if the UK disputes Scotland's rightful assets, then Scotland would be fully justified to adjust the debt contribution accordingly.
The currency union makes sense while our economies disentangle themselves, but its an interim measure which will come under pressure as our respective economies diverge.
# Will 2014-06-30 13:31
Breeks, If Scotland started its own currency, the markets would savage this new untried currency.
As Gordon Brown has pointed out in his new book (which, you should, in all fairness, read), “one power that the nationalists have always demanded – full control over the economy – is now one the Scottish government says it doesn’t want, preferring a British currency and British control over our interest rates.”
And he points out, “the nationalists have decided that they do not want the levers of power that include managing their own currency, interest rates , inflation targets and money supply, and are even prepared to say they would accept a fiscal pact with the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Salmond saw how unpopular his previous policy of joining the euro was – 5 per cent support in March’s YouGov poll, 73 per cent backed keeping the pound – and now talks of keeping the pound. But this would be to stay in a currency union while leaving a fiscal and political union.
# bringiton 2014-06-30 18:41
British nationalists just don't seem to understand what independence is about.
Independence is about making your own choices based on what is in your best interests at any given time.
Dependence is about allowing others to make that decision for you and relying on them to look after your interests.
That is the choice we are being asked to make,not about currency or anything else.
One thing for sure is that if we vote No,we will have No say in our future.
# Will 2014-07-01 15:32
Dear bringiton, I agree with you that dependence is a very poor state to be in. But a breakaway Scotland would be dependent on the EU. Scotland in an independent united Britain will be stronger, better off and more independent than it would be as just the EU’s 29th dependency. It has more weight in the United Kingdom than it would have as a stand-alone member of the European Union.

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