smokingboot: (default)
So it's done and dusted - for now. But the fallout is interesting and could lead to great things. There is so much that has disturbed me about this campaign. On a personal level, I realised that the Union loves Scotland rather more than Scotland loves the Union, and that my dreams of living up there might not be such a pleasant reality if I am judged by my accent and birthplace. I came across an undercurrent of nationalism, sometimes soft edged, unconscious even, but still there.

An associate of mine from the studio printed one of Rabbie Burns' more unpleasant pieces about the evil English and the woes of 'English gold.' She wrote at the bottom that we should substitute the word 'English' for 'Parliament,' but even so, it was an unpleasant thing to read and I marvel that she couldn't find a non racist piece to demonstrate her point. Another more rational friend mentioned that in the event of Independence, to cut the Scottish off would be petty and cruel... then, a few comments down in his discourse, he talked about the possibilities of negotiating Spain out of using its EU veto in the hope of 'weakening the UK.' So England refusing to aid Scotland as a fledgeling state would be cruel, but Scotland sabotaging the English state would be OK. Said friend means well, but there was no getting away from the twin standard to which he was adhering, of which he seemed unaware.

From what I could make out, the road to freedom seemed to lead through using the BoE as a guarantor for any and all spending and then working backroom deals to scupper the UK in order to get into the EU. Never mind the utter stupidity of working to weaken the very currency you are relying on to build your utopia, the sheer doublethink of it was enough to harden the heart - as was a comment this morning I read, someone describing Scotland now seeing England as 'prey' after a demonstration of 'snivelling weakness.' So if the UK agreed to share the pound in style of the Euro, and take upon itself all the debts of a spending Scotland, it would be a fool to be despised and used for as much as possible out of sheer historical malice; and if the UK stood by its already declared intention not to share the pound, it would be the evil empire trying to destroy Scotland. Scotland might give up many things for Independence but not its scapegoat.

To make matters worse, the guilt tripping of Scottish No voters has been difficult to avoid, on the net at least. Maybe this is why the polls indicated a closer run fight - perhaps No voters knew how Yes voters would respond, and kept quiet. There are of course, claims of rigging the vote - and perhaps it has happened in isolated cases, who can say? But I find it hard to believe in some uber conspiracy from Westminster to rig it from the start, because if that was the case, Cameron would have stayed silent, knowing that he need do nothing. He certainly wouldn't have created a constitutional crisis and handed so much ammunition to his closest rivals on the right. Whatever happens now, his position is weaker; not as weak as Milliband's but still... Though there have been plenty of comments suggesting that Yes voters should just get a grip and accept the will of the people, I believe there should be an independent recount just to be absolutely sure of the result. But even here, there is a kind of hysteria; after all, if the votes were rigged then the outcome can't be the fault of the No voters, and if the No voters were genuine, then welcome to democracy in action.

There's a fury, a raw emotional response, and I can understand it in a way: there are photos of Mel Gibson as William Wallace looking on in disbelief as the Scots vote 'against freedom'; Hollywood comes to Holyrood. The worst I have seen is a list of companies and businesses that 'frightened' Scotland, meaning said companies warned that Independence might be bad for trade. The idea is to boycott these companies for daring to speak out and 'scare' people. So what happens if people don't buy Tunnocks teacakes, don't shop in Tescos, don't use the Royal Bank of Scotland? Does this affect the baddies in Westminster? Hardly. All that happens is that local people who work in these places get laid off, unemployment rises and the economy shrinks, just as Scotland needs to boost its economy...without which there is no hope for Independence!

Personally, I am for Independence if this is what Scotland really wants. The vote didn't seem to indicate that, but if it does at some point in the future, if those bampots in Westminster renege on their frantic promises, Scotland will only ever have that independence if it has a central bank, its own currency and its own resources with which to guarantee that currency. Scotland must be able to pay pensions and wages and mortgages, to sustain its own infrastructure. Given that, I think it could thrive independent of the South. I never felt that England or Spain was my home, guess I always considered that to be Scotland. But would I be happy in a place where a significant number need to hate my kind, my voice, my background, in order to have an identity of its own? There's a slight forlornness about not belonging anywhere, but that will pass. Love Scotland always but in the end, guess I'm a traveller.

The Vow

Sep. 17th, 2014 12:53 pm
smokingboot: (default)
Oh for god's sake.

What half-wits our party leaders are. Bribing the Scots not to leave the Union? Let them go if they wish, don't give favours the rest of the UK doesn't get...as if there isn't going to be enough bad feeling whichever way this goes! It's not just between the Yes and No voters; maybe it is my imagination but I detect a hardening of attitudes south of the border. To give nothing and let them eat Salmond may become a popular option, certainly more popular than this ridiculous vow. The Velvet Divorce becomes less and less likely.

Of course Cameron is desperate - he doesn't want to go down in British history as the man who lost the Union. And despite his avowal not to resign, his job is on the line...the Tories will not forgive such a failure. But he's in trouble whatever happens because the vow favours Scotland far too much, and he will face riot in his own back yard.
As for Ed Milliband, what an empty suit he is. His party will face utter ruin if Scotland goes independent, and all he can do is snuffle around with nothing to say except how nasty the campaign is getting. Clegg, Clegg who? Who Clegg? Devils, long spoons, all that. If that damned vow keeps Scotland in the Union, the real winners will be UKip. Farage will happily spin a great story about how the English have been unjustly treated so that our leaders can extricate themselves, and he'll get votes too, plenty of them. Then we have another problem.

What a colossal mess.
smokingboot: (default)
Increasingly I am disturbed by the Yes campaign.

I've listed my emotional leanings in an earlier post; it's easy to see and understand the desire for a Scotland free from the greed and self service of Westminster, but it seems that Westminster is being equated with London and London is being equated with England, in a kind of lumpen broth of things and people it's OK to hate.

When all is said and done, that's a matter of choice. It's the practicality of the thing I don't get. Salmond keeps telling the Yes camp that of course there will be a shared currency, that Scotland will have the pound and the BoE will guarantee it. But why would the BoE guarantee the spending splurge promised by Salmond? This is the man who brought Fred the Shred to the fore, the man who spent £20,000 of taxpayers money in court to prove that he had got legal advice on the standing of Scotland in the EU; the court ruled that he had not got the advice he claimed. I wouldn't trust this man with a fiver, never mind a country's budget. The response to adamant claims that England won't share the pound? Salmond and chums claim that England is bluffing, that of course we will share the pound. But surely we never would unless we could determine and veto the money, and what kind of independence is that? But there just seems to be this blank assurance that England is playing chicken...maybe it is. But it's a dangerous game, and I see no gain to England in it. As important, I see no loss to England in refusing to play. Scotland is the player at risk. I think. But my fiscal knowledge is very slight.

The response has been that if England doesn't share the pound, Scotland will just renege on its part of the UK debt. Despite the hit our GDP would take, the temptation would be to shrug. After all, there are a lot of lenders out there; Scotland can go enjoy the interest rates any bad debtor faces. Of course, the oil might help a great deal, but there is so much finagling about how much oil there actually is and what it's worth, who can judge? Of course someone will buy it and just as well, with the loss of the financial sector, and the need to renegotiate everything from whisky exports to military shipping - both of which gain their major custom south of the border - said oil may well have to cover a lot of expenses. But it is worrying to depend so much on one resource; it makes for a wobbly utopia.

Then there's the EU. Salmond has claimed all sorts of rubbish, from fast-tracking onwards, and I think there is a hope that Europe will welcome them in just to annoy the evil English. Maybe that will happen. If so, Scotland will have to adopt the Euro, for all its sins. But an independent Scotland wants the same get out clauses and exceptions negotiated by the UK. And that might happen too, but there's no guarantee. What there are, are potential vetoes...

Of course, none of it may happen. What do I know? But it has an ominous feeling to me, the sense of a grand kilted party, and then a hangover lasting longer than William Wallace's legend. If the worst should come to pass I have no doubt that Scotland will survive, though it will be hard. But to see the end of the Union? Something in me sorrows, another part of me knows that we'll be OK.
smokingboot: (default)
Not so pleasant this time, last night.

The story has faded through the day, only the sense of a chase through a tesseract of walls and houses, a blonde youth having his bike stolen, then both of us running and many following, an eerie paranoid feel. Turned out the only way to deal with it was to turn and aggressively face the pursuers, to the extent of outright attack. It was only then that I discovered that attack didn't work - some force stopped punches from connecting. So there was no point anyone fighting, and they all went home. Later I learned the blonde boy had no genitals and many diseases. Full moon nights, good for bringing out my not so inner loon...

I am troubled by the Scottish referendum. Some of it is selfish...I don't want to think of my father's country as a foreign land; it's never been clear to me where home is, only memories of childhood when, in Scotland people were kind to me, and in England they were not.

To me it seems that England has long been in love with the idea of the rich, a sort of Upstairs Downstairs obsession, most assuming that they would somehow be upstairs enjoying the parties. In Scotland, the Highland Clearances and other historical issues seems to have left a less drooling idea of the Lovely Rich and What They Do. If only Salmond was a man worth trusting! There's a craftiness and excitability about him I don't like. It worries me that he just expects to have the pound, expects the Bank of England will guarantee his spending, or, he says, Scotland will renege on its part of the UK's debt - hardly an inducement for any other lender to help out or invest in Scotland. I think he is so eager to go down in history, he can't be bothered with details.

As far as I can tell, Scotland doesn't want the NHS to be dismantled (neither does England, but the NHS marches going on just don't get reported by the Beeb or Sky) nor do they want the kind of austerity measures that kill people http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/09/david-clapson-benefit-sanctions-death-government-policies?CMP=fb_gu) they don't want the extraordinary cult of inequality and privilege that has shaped our society,(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/old-boys-club-still-dominates-public-life-according-to-major-new-report-9695229.html) and they don't want a corrupt government we can't change because the very system of parliament we rely on makes it impossible to remove them. Take fox hunting for example. The British public are overwhemingly against it, something like 80%. Cameron hunts, in fact, the master of his local hunt was one of the first to be taken to court for illegally hunting. If Cameron gets a second term, he wants to put the hunt thing to the vote again - not a national referendum of course, but he would get the MPs to vote on it, and if he has enough MPs he'll overturn it. Knowing the hunting ban is the will of the people, he will dismiss it because his friends don't like it. Fracking? The people don’t want it, so he will change the law to make their opinion irrelevant. Badger cull? Independent scientists and advisors warn that it is inefficient and being carried out inhumanely, so this year, there will be no independent observers. What manner of government is this? No wonder Scotland doesn't want it. I don't want it either.

I love this dream of a new Old Land where the ideal of fairness for everyone is important. The childish part of me gets excited by imagining a new heraldic device for Scotland, a unicorn unchained, as opposed to the maltreated circus lion of the south. Very recently a TUC leader was giving a speech on the UK's seeming return to a nastier poorer society, defined by class distinction and poverty. Her broadcast was cut short by a newsflash on the next royal baby (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tuc-leader-frances-ogrady-speech-on-class-system-cut-off-by-royal-baby-newsflash-9719503.html)
smokingboot: (minerva)
If you had come to my front door, taken off your hoods and masks and shown your faces in the light of my porch, if you had knocked, and stood back so we could see you and your companions, all of you, so we could see you weren't a threat; and if you had said, 'We aren't here to hurt you or steal or set fire to the place, but my mate's broken his leg and he needs an ambulance.' We'd have phoned the ambulance for you. I might have come out, maybe checked that leg, maybe made you tea, or just made sure you weren't going into shock. We wouldn't demand loot off you to give you help, we wouldn't go through your rucksack to steal your stuff. Civilised people don't do that. The ambulance would arrive, the ambulance our taxes pay for would take you to treatment our taxes pay for. If your gang won the day the ambulance would never come because it doesn't exist if it isn't paid for, and we can't pay for it without tax that comes from business - the businesses you've been destroying. It's not a perfect system, we know there is corruption and greed that must be faced. But despite all that, the ambulance would come...if it could get through the streets your mates are tearing up.

But you didn't show your faces. You treated our property as though it was yours, trying to be action heroes, and because Die Hard isn't real life, one of you got badly hurt. You scrabbled at our back door like thieves. Perhaps you are thieves, I don't know. The good news is that the ambulance came and hopefully you'll be OK. The bad news for you is the police came with them. Gentlemen, you're nicked.

This is England.

Edited to add: We learn this morning that they were around 14/15 years old.

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