Referendum 2014
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500 days to go and time for us all to raise our game

I’m not sure that being told by every political commentator and Sunday newspaper – in suitably sonorous tones, of course – that there are 500 days to go to the referendum is a cause for celebration or to reach for alcoholic anaesthetic.  Groan or cheer, there are indeed 500 days to go and we can only hope that things will get better, to coin a phrase.

 

Peter A Bell's insight:

One thing the referendum debate certainly isn't short of and that's self-appointed moderators. There seems to be no end of pundits pompously pontificating about how the rest of us are doing it all wrong. I referred to the phenomenon yesterday as the "Hassan/Riddoch Refrain". The endless interjections declaring that, whatever it is we are talking about and however we might be expressing ourselves, we are talking about the wrong thing, and in entirely the wrong way!

Kate Higgins may be weary of the real debate - and presumptuous enough to suppose she speaks for the generality of people in this. I, for one, am weary of self-proclaimed arbiters of what is fit and proper offering, all unasked, their high-minded lectures on the error of our ways.

Who the hell are these people? On what authority do they presume to set the rules by which the public participate in a public debate? Who are they to demand that debate must be conducted in terms contrived and constrained to avoid offending the purse-lipped tutters who make it their daily business to be offended?

Why should we pander to those with such a need to vent their excess of puffed-up, faux self-righteous indignation that they spend their days rooting around looking for excuses to mount their pulpit and proclaim their profound displeasure?

The debate on Scotland's constitutional future is the most important debate most of us will ever be involved in. It is a debate that should be - MUST BE - as wide-ranging and inclusive as possible. A pox on ALL those who would seek to impose arbitrary limits on that debate. Let the people speak! And if that means our ears are occasionally assaulted with intemperate language and distasteful views, let's try to be grown-up about it.

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David Briggs's comment, May 5, 2013 8:31 AM
We need to be a lot more robust, but careful not to overstep the bounds. The battle is due to get nasty as we trot towards the autumn. I'm looking forward to the stramash when the blood really starts to flow.
Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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Royal Navy is now 'too small' to protect Britain

Royal Navy is now 'too small' to protect Britain | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
CUTS to the Royal Navy have left it too small to meet its commitments, a naval historian warned yesterday.
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Victory for Business for Scotland as CBI is forced to register as part of the No Campaign

Victory for Business for Scotland as CBI is forced to register as part of the No Campaign | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Exclusive The CBI has, under pressure from Business for Scotland, registered with the Electoral Commission Scotland (ECS) as part of the No Campaign. It has done this against the stated positions of its member companies some of which support independence and the vast majority of which have been at
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Let's hear it for the changemakers, for they are voting Yes

Considering all of this instils in me a confidence that not only will Scotland vote yes for independence but that a majority of women aged 25 to 54 will also eventually journey to Yes. Why? Becaus...
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An absolute mess?

I had a wee Twitter conversation with a political blogger based in England a few days ago, discussing the consequences of a Yes vote for Westminster, and his co
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Margo MacDonald urged women to vote ‘Yes’

Margo MacDonald urged women to vote ‘Yes’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
MARGO MacDONALD called for women to back independence in her final TV interview, to be aired next week.
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Utah Saints

Utah Saints | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

"Time is not Money; time is Life. When more people can be persuaded to think along these lines we will have taken a real step forward ..." - Why Work? (Freedom Press, 1990) In 2008, a...

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Get out there, David Cameron, and save the United Kingdom

Or go down in history as the man who lost Scotland and left England’s backdoor open to danger
Peter A Bell's insight:

Yet another article referring to Scotland as an English possession and talking up Scottish independence as a threat to England's national security. A pattern is emerging. A rather disturbing pattern

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Joyce McMillan: Is the No camp killing the Union?

Joyce McMillan: Is the No camp killing the Union? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
In September, Better Together may pay the price for its lack of vision about Scotland’s future, writes Joyce McMillan
Peter A Bell's insight:

If a disinterested observer were asked to compile a list of terms to describe the anti-independence campaign, I hazard that the word "thoughtful" would not feature prominently - or at all. In truth, the campaign to deny Scotland's rightful constitutional status never really gets much beyond trite variations on the already painfully banal slogan, "Better Together". If we are not just plain "Better Together" - with no explanation of what constitutes "better", then we are "stronger together" - with no thought as to the nature of this supposed strength or the purposes for which it is deployed. Or we have more "clout" in the world. Another piece of hackneyed sloganeering that draws on the lexicon of militaristic imperialism, with no recognition of the fact that projecting power on a global scale is an obsession of the British state that has little resonance in Scotland.

On reflection, it can be seen that all of this has little to do with benefits accruing to Scotland from being part of the UK. It is all about the advantages the British state gains from being bigger. The thinking simply doesn't get much beyond the woefully simplistic notion that bigger is better

What is missing from the anti-independence campaign's argument is a more profound consideration of what it is about the union that is valued. Valued, not by the British political parties and the vested interests that they represent, but by the people of the UK.

Alex Salmond addressed this issue back in July 2013 when he spoke of the six unions that "govern our lives today in Scotland". The political union of the UK; union with Europe through the EU; the currency union, the Union of the Crowns; a defence union based on Nato and a social union among the people of the UK,
The First Minister talked of these six unions in terms of their importance to Scotland, making the point that only the first of these - political union with the UK - works against Scotland's interests. The others serve us reasonably well and are generally valued by the people of Scotland. Recent polling by Wings Over Scotland confirms this as it shows, for example, a plurality in favour of EU membership, the monarchy, and being part of the Nato alliance.

The currency union is just a fact of life for all of us. As convenient an arrangement as might be contrived. And the social union is something we are so comfortable with that we rarely even think of it. When we do reflect on it, however, it is likely that we rank it first among all the unions. The rest are mere practical or political arrangements, whereas the social union is about people.

My point here is that, if we get past the self-serving politicians of the British parties whose sole priority is the preservation of the structures of power and privilege which benefit them and their clients; if we address those who have been lured by the simplistic slogans of the anti-independence campaign and induce them to really think about what it is that they value about the union, it is highly probable that they will come up with much the same answers that Alex Salmond did. They would surely place the highest value on the social union. And, while they might vary in the way they prioritise the others, there would still be general agreement with pro-independence campaigners on the list as a whole.

We all, nationalist and unionist alike, tend to value the same things about the union, differing only in the emphasis that we put on each. Where we part company is principally, if not solely, on the matter of the political union of the UK. I would urge unionists to think long and hard about whether we do not have a common interest in that regard also.

The sheer mindlessness of the anti-independence rhetoric pumped out by Blair McDougall's appalling Project Fear operation precludes the kind of nuanced analysis that Alex Salmond has offered. Whereas the circumstances of the world in which we live require a concept of independence that involves a redefining of relationships, the No campaign can think only in terms of a complete severing of those relationships. It presents a totally false choice between all of the six unions, or none of them. Even to the point of threatening to wilfully destroy things that work well, such as the currency union.

Those unionists who value the same aspects of the union as nationalists do must ask themselves whether they are prepared to sacrifice the good bits in order to preserve a political union which serves nobody other than the elites of the British state. They must accept that a No vote does not mean a return to some comfortable status quo ante. Scotland has changed in ways that make that impossible.

A No vote on 18 September 2014 will have consequences. The outcome itself and the all too easily envisaged response of the British state to that outcome will alter an already unsatisfactory political union in ways that must inevitably have a deleterious effect on the social union that we all value so much.

To those intending to vote No I say, if you value the best of the old union, then think of how it will be put in jeopardy by failure to take this opportunity to forge anew the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Think how much better together we will be if we create a new union. A reformed association which preserves all that is desirable and effective about what has been developed over the years but places this in the context of a political relationship fit for our times and the future. A relationship that is strong, not in the facile sense subscribed to by British nationalists, but in the sense of being robust and durable. A relationship that respects the differences between nations while cherishing the social and cultural ties among people. A true partnership of equals.

All of this is possible. It requires only the goodwill and commonality of interest that already exists. And the confidence to vote Yes.


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From Vote Yes to save the union first published in Aye Magazine, November 2013

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Report shows growing strength of Scottish economy | Scottish National Party

Report shows growing strength of Scottish economy | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The SNP has welcomed a new report which shows the strength of Scotland’s economy – with increases in investment, economic activity and business optimism confirmed.

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IT'S THE OIL, ISN'T IT? - The Caledonian Mercury

IT'S THE OIL, ISN'T IT? - The Caledonian Mercury | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
There’s been a lot of discussion over the future of North Sea Oil during the debate on independence. The ‘Yes’ and ‘No’
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A well-calibrated pro-Union battle plan that was blown clean out of the water

ON paper, it must have looked like a well-calibrated battle plan.
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The Scottish Independence Podcast 67 - Margo MacDonald

The Scottish Independence Podcast 67 - Margo MacDonald | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
A few months ago, after I'd interviewed a couple of MSPs (John Finnie and Jean Urquhart), I asked them and their assistants if they would be able to put me in touch with Margo MacDonald or her assi...
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Independent Scotland ‘should have own currency’

Independent Scotland ‘should have own currency’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
LABOUR leader Johann Lamont has said that the “only logical place to go” for a currency option in an independent Scotland would be to have a separate Scottish currency. in a speech to the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).
Peter A Bell's insight:

Johann Lamont is, of course, a fool. And not just because of the wholly inappropriate comparison with the eurozone. She is a fool because she totally fails to recognise that everything she says about the sterling currency union applies to the situation we are in now - with the added disadvantage that we have neither any say in the matters she refers to nor any way of getting out of the currency union.

As always, there is the sneering contempt for Scotland that pervades everything that oozes out of Better Together. Lamont evidently finds it inconceivable that Scotland can possibly have any power or influence at all. It also demonstrates her belief that the institutions of the British state will always seek to do Scotland down. She can neither imagine Scotland having being a significant party to negotiations nor can she envisage the rUK being reasonable.

The reference to the eurozone suggests that Lamont might have some understanding of the issue of economic divergence within a currency union. But this is the same clown who is trying to convince the people of Scotland that a No vote will lead to something akin to full fiscal autonomy (FFA). Which means that the governments of the main participants would be free to follow the different fiscal policies that lead to economic divergence. So, either she is lying about meaningful devolution or she is proposing the very combination of fiscal autonomy and monetary union which she condemns as illogical.

What is truly insulting, though, is the fact that Lamont doesn't even bother to think these things through. She thinks so little of the people of Scotland that she just says the stuff that pops into her head which seems to fit the Project Fear template.

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CBI registers as UK campaign backer

The CBI, representing many large businesses, has registered with the Electoral Commission as a backer of the campaign against Scottish independence.
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A breath of outside air

When you've been wading in the Scottish and UK media for two and a half years, it's easy to develop a siege mentality and believe that the entire rest of the world buys into its cataclysmic view of...
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Get the Claymores out the Thatches...

Get the Claymores out the Thatches... | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Damn! I’ve been trying to keep to my own agenda and not be side-tracked by others. But when I read the Guardian with mounting disbelief, I realised I was off chasing someone else’s hare again. Here...
Peter A Bell's insight:

Derek Bateman justly berates Michael Kettle for his reckless use of inflammatory language. But Kettle is not alone in raising the spectre of violent confrontation in a dismayingly irresponsible manner. There has been a spate of such articles recently, referring to Scotland as an English possession and talking up Scottish independence as a threat to England’s national security.


For example, there is this from ex-British intelligence operative, Crispin Black:


“But the primary argument against separation – looking at it from the English interest – is that for the first time since 1603 England will have a land border with a foreign power. It’s what kept Elizabeth I and many of her predecessors awake at night – the country is a giant and dangerous backdoor into England.


An independent Scotland will almost certainly be viscerally hostile and quickly bankrupt. Spain will veto its membership of the EU and it will quickly debauch its currency – whatever that may be.


If you want an idea of what the relationship between the two countries is going to be like, look at the Irish Republic from its foundation in 1921 until recently.”http://bit.ly/1eQeFIQ


And it’s not only journalists and military types. Mainstream politicians are also jumping on the bandwagon. Here is former Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore:


“It is the duty of the government of any state to safeguard national security and to protect its people, territory, economy and interests from internal and external threats.

If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom in September, there is no doubt that there would be major challenges for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.”http://bit.ly/1eQeH3B


If this is not a co-ordinated propaganda exercise then coincidence has been working overtime.

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Sara Sheridan: I've Completed My Journey To Yes | National Collective

Sara Sheridan: I've Completed My Journey To Yes | National Collective | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Four months ago I gave up reading fiction in order to dedicate myself to the non-fictional world of political discourse.
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STUC sets priorities as Yes momentum builds in Scotland’s trade union movement | Yes Scotland

STUC sets priorities as Yes momentum builds in Scotland’s trade union movement | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The sun shone in Dundee this week as trade unionists gathered for the last Scottish Trades Union Congress before the referendum.

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Scottish independence referendum: 5 facts with 5 months to go - News stories - GOV.UK

Scottish independence referendum: 5 facts with 5 months to go - News stories - GOV.UK | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
There’s just 5 months until Scotland makes a big decision about its future. Make sure you’re in the know.
Peter A Bell's insight:
It will be the end of the United Kingdom as we know it

So what? The British state is not divinely ordained.


Scotland already has most of the infrastructure that is required. Where we have to create new infrastructure this will give us the opportunity to do the job better.


Being in a position to negotiate the terms on which Scotland associates with other nations rather than having those relationships defined for us by Westminster is one of the principle arguments for independence.


The UK has a diverse and successful economy


So has Scotland The idea that bigger is necessarily better is infantile. Small countries have advantages and many of the most economically successful countries have populations little or no bigger than Scotland.


The claims that Scotland is subsidised by the rest of the UK is a lie that even the UK Government admits - when speaking out of the side of its mouth that isn't trumpeting anti-independence propaganda.


Being part of the UK is a key factor in that economic success


Unless the UK Government is threatening illegal economic sanctions against Scotland as punishment for a democratic choice, there is no reason why trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK should be affected in any significant way by ending the political union.


The UK has major international influence


The US has considerably more "international influence" than the UK. Is the UK Government arguing that Washington should speak for the UK on the world stage?


Scotland is perfectly capable of speaking for itself. It is insulting to suggest otherwise.


We are a truly United Kingdom


Then why did the people of Scotland demand this referendum? Why are they demanding more powers for their parliament than the British state is prepared to give?


The UK is divided in countless ways contrived or aggravated by the policies of successive UK Governments. Socially, economically and politically it is a fractured union - broken beyond repair.


Independence is an opportunity to salvage and repair those aspects of the union that work well for the people of our two nations.

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UK immigration policy puts off students warns university chief

OVERSEAS students are being put off studying in Scotland because Westminster's immigration policy warns them
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Number employed in Scotland rises by six times the population of Fort William

Number employed in Scotland rises by six times the population of Fort William | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The number of people in a job in Scotland rose by six times the population of Fort William last year, according to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.
Peter A Bell's insight:

If the UK Government wants to take credit for Scotland's relatively strong recovery from recession then they must also take the blame for causing the recession in the first place.

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Outer Hebrides range trumps Trident - Salmond

Outer Hebrides range trumps Trident - Salmond | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
ALEX Salmond has claimed an Outer Hebridean missile test range is of more importance to the Nato nuclear alliance than Trident.
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All News is Bad News

All News is Bad News | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Official figures on unemployment for the period December 2013 to February 2014 just came out the other day.  It was certainly encouraging to see that the Scottish unemployment rate is 6.5 per cent, which is below the average of 6.9 per cent for the UK as a whole. Just as I type that it’s got me wondering – does the “whole” UK figure mean precisely that?  If so then our better figures up here must be bringing theirs down slightly to an artificially low level.

Official figures on unemployment for the period December 2013 to February 2014 just came out the other day.  It was certainly encouraging to see that the Scottish unemployment rate is 6.5 per cent, which is below the average of 6.9 per cent for the UK as a whole.  Just as I type that it’s got me wondering – does the “whole” UK figure mean precisely that?  If so then our better figures up here must be bringing theirs down slightly to an artificially low level. - See more at: http://www.cybernats.com/?p=3013#sthash.q6pWOpAR.dpuf
Official figures on unemployment for the period December 2013 to February 2014 just came out the other day.  It was certainly encouraging to see that the Scottish unemployment rate is 6.5 per cent, which is below the average of 6.9 per cent for the UK as a whole.  Just as I type that it’s got me wondering – does the “whole” UK figure mean precisely that?  If so then our better figures up here must be bringing theirs down slightly to an artificially low level. - See more at: http://www.cybernats.com/?p=3013#sthash.q6pWOpAR.dpuf
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The Courier Referendum Roadshow: We want to hear your views

The Courier Referendum Roadshow: We want to hear your views | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The Courier Referendum Roadshow: We want to hear your views
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Nationalism

By Robin McAlpine A simple guide for people who want to write about nationalism: Ethnic Nationalism: is the belief that the nation is based (wholly or in large part) on people from the same ethnic ...
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