Who is the basket case and where are the broad shoulders in this Union?


Commentary by Derek Bateman

So GERS proves Scotland is a basket case – independence is over. No, wait. It proves the opposite – we need to escape the Union. Quick. Either is right and both are wrong – it all depends on your standpoint and the truth is that no facts are going to change any minds at this stage.

Derek Bateman

Independence – and the Union – are essentially emotional constructs from the voters’ perspective and whatever line of argument you take, they will fit into their own version of events. So relax. Stand down and chill. Just watch the beanfeast as each side makes claim against the other, thereby entrenching their prejudices by re-interpreting information in different ways. Then ask yourself a question: Do you fight for independence to be richer?

Ask: Would you give up part of your income – a one-off payment or an ongoing tax rise – in order to be a sovereign nation again? Because, by God, I would. It isn’t just that independence is a prize in itself – at any cost – but it would be worthwhile to rid ourselves of the wheedling, cavilling, sneering Scottish lobby whose sole delight is denigrating their own country, their own people. The total lack of self-awareness is astonishing – adult men and women boasting about how indebted they are, how useless they seem and how feeble they are in the face of the grown-up world. You can dress it up as analysis, as ‘Professor’ Jim Gallacher does for the extremist Scotland in Union outfit, but the overriding point is made: He thinks his own country is horseshit.

And that’s it. That is his point – beneath the mock academic bluster and forelock-tugging gratitude to the British state for its largesse, Prof Jim’s message is simple: We cannae dae it. We live on handouts. See us, we’re shite.


This relentless bleating and knee-crawling obeisance to a romantic outdated vision of Britain – a country committing national suicide through political cowardice and incompetence – gives every self-respecting Scot the boak. Imagine how shameful you would feel towards the end of your life if all you’d done was shore up a class-ridden, xenophobic and backward country run by a public school elite while denying your own children the same advantages as other European nations. And why? Because the annual accounts looked a bit messy.

No, the truth about Unionists is that under no circumstance will they ever desert the UK because it means more to them than Scotland. They are emotionally attached and spiritually affiliated to Britain and nothing, short of an ISIS takeover of Whitehall, will move them.

When Scotland was awash with oil revenues (theoretically that is, as the British attributed them to a made-up economic unit instead of Scotland) Unionism argued there was no need for independence. Now there are no oil revenues – bingo – you’re too poor to go it alone.

Once you grasp the essential point – that it will stay this way until enough of them are gone – you realise too they are to be ignored and pitied. After all, what aspect of Britain would rouse you to action? What is there about it you would defend?


The quality of its democracy perhaps – no PR and an unelected House. The state of its economy maybe – massive public debt, low productivity, minimal manufacturing, breadline wages, no pensions, limited workers’s rights, brutal inequality and spending hoarded in one corner.

Perhaps it’s our contribution to human rights – you know, the ones the Tories want to bin with the ECHR. Maybe it’s British friendliness – overt racism stoked by the political classes, making second class citizens out of European workers, rejecting the EU concept of partnership between nations.

Is it the sale to foreign purchasers of strategic industries? Love of nuclear power? Love of nuclear weapons?

To be fair, we still make good television programmes – if you like lemon sponges.

But none of this matters to the believers. And, yes, it is a cult because no matter how egregiously Britain behaves, its adherents will obey and forgive. It is a belief system which is why so many like Ruth Davidson and Douglas Alexander react so angrily to challenge – they genuinely feel the fear of losing what is most dear to them.

And my belief system? Well, it is also powerful and heavily based on faith but not on restricting what people can be permitted to do. It is founded on the belief that we can trust ourselves, hopefully to do the right thing but knowing that if we get it wrong, we made our own errors. Countries do – Iceland and Ireland both walked blind into a bank-led borrowing crisis and both used the collective imperative of national interest to pull through and prosper – unlike the UK. (Although the architects of the system that permitted the crash, Brown and Darling, have prospered in international finance – how very British). Am I stuck in a single mode and unable to adjust? I don’t think so.


Short of independence, I see no reason why a more federal UK cannot be made to work in the interests of all and am willing to work for it. Democracy before dogma.

Between our two sides are found the changeable ones, the uncommitted who decide the outcome of elections and who can be swayed by argument. Do they stick with desperation and dinnae? Or do they have the generational inspiration to transform their country?

And what about GERS and those fiscal transfers and higher per head spending and budget deficits? If you’re Unionist, it is proof that Scotland is incapable and bust. If you’re Nationalist, it proves the Union has failed and we need to get out.

Won’t it be expensive if we do? What GERS doesn’t address is the attribution of state assets and other areas to be divided during disaggregation talks. Nobody can say what each side would offer as the tangle of shared lines of responsibility is unwound. One estimate based on population share would award Scotland £109bn worth of assets.

It is clear from the mess Britain is in over Brexit that complicated talks of this nature can reveal unknown surprises. Any Scottish ‘deficit’ could disappear in the deluge (or else Faslane could be closed).

The irony of GERs is that it tells us where we are today under the Union – and for UK supporters, it ain’t pretty. And that’s out of their own mouths. While they trumpet delight at their own country’s poverty and dependence, we clearly wonder how that can be so after 300 years of Union and the discovery of oil.

GERS won’t change anybody’s mind. But it will underline how different are our visions for Scotland.


  1. A superb analysis. Colonies tend to be exploited, impoverished, under-developed basket cases – for that is the net effect of colonial control. Look at the likes of Dubai, Oman and Singapore etc now – independence removed the oppressive chains and allowed them the opportunity to develop and thrive beyond recognition. There being no ‘union’, according to the brexit/supreme court decision, Scotland remains a non-sovereign colonial basket case, forever at the mercy of England’s 500+ MPs and its ‘administrative Power’. The SNP should use their democratically elected majority in Scotland to give notice to end the ‘union’ charade the same way it began, also taking Scotland’s case for independence to the UN Committee for Decolonisation.

  2. Excellent stuff Derek.
    Even when unionists are given the argument that a union of 500m people is in a far better position to bale out a bankrupt Scotland than bankrupt England is,the shutters stay closed.
    So as you say,GERS is an almost entirely political construct,used as a prop by those who cannot think beyond Rule Britannia.
    No point in wasting time with these people,they may eventually see the light but I doubt it.
    Meantime,we should marvel at the generousity of England’s Tories towards Scotland in continuing to support us in our time of great need.
    That will be right.

  3. I believe some people view the union the same way as they view a bank account or buying shares or an insurance policy. They have paid in and are waiting for the pay out, in spite of seeing that there is not going to be a return. They continue to pay in with out questioning and now matter how much their living standards have fallen or frozen since the crash.

    Their ears are closed to any form of debate or discussion, e.g.

    Look at Ireland, how well they are doing? The response being, rubbish they are burst, so much for the Celtic Tiger. You follow this up with that was eight years ago, they turned things round. Response to that is, I don’t believe you, I don’t care. So your happy being governed fron London? No response.

    This inpart arises because the state broadcaster and the press never publicise how well others are doing if it would benefit the independence case. Conversely they went out of their way to highlight Ireland’s misfortune in the crash and used it to undermine our independence. Have you ever seen a bbc FOI or investigation into shortcomings of westminster rule on Scotland or investment in London versus in Scotland?

    Mix this in with killing the oil industry, killing RBS and killing the renewable sector whilst dangling a boat or two under Scots noses, the strategy is pretty obvious and so is Scotland’s future in union.

    By design our economy will be manipulated into deeper dependency and our collective confidence undermined, classic colonialism, albeit Europe in 2017!

    The only answer is independence, or as 99% of the Earth’s population would view it, just being a normal country!

  4. A nearly cracking return to form, Mr Bateman, in the context of the bygone amateur boxing ratings.

    Queensberry Roolz stuff.

    A damned good stylistic attempt at laying your gloves on your BritNatz “opponent” balletically, but suspect Dirk MacTaggart would have demanded more of your clinical output in the ring – less of the stylistic kerfuffle inspired by the Henry McLeish shuffle.

    More of the “indefinable” slip and snake-like slide as you engage?

    You are technically superb, sir, and I wish you well

  5. Christ
    That reads back appallingly.

    You are a wonderful writer and reflector, Bateman, Derek.

    Keep ‘ em coming always.

    May not agree always with your analyses, but vital to the agora of public debate where aye are included.


  6. Oil is a great industry, struggling currently due to a glut of the stuff. When the geopolitical situation changes, it will return to normal levels of profitability. What will our unionist acquaintances do then? Embrace independence because we are obviously not too wee, obviously not too poor?

    Mibbes naw. I predict they’ll return to the old broad shoulders argument that such a volatile industry needs UK stewardship. Pool resources blah,blah blah. They got away with that rubbish in the last referendum. Who will believe them now?

    They, the unionists, have precious few advocates of any standing now amongst their numbers. We can beat them and their tired old arguments and their newer scare stories about nobody trading with us and hard borders etc etc easily. What they are there describing is not Scottish independence – it’s Brexit!.

    Bring on Indyref2.

  7. Great Britain ? Heard all this shit for the last 72 yrs and I’m still not convinced, or for that matter, “indoctrinated” by any stretch of the imagination through the Continuous attempts by the unionist Media or Westminster Cabal to Radicalise my way of thinking ! I don’t give a shit if I’m Broke, (In the monetary sense) but I will never be broken in Spirit ! Independence for Scotland from English Rule is my goal , There is NO GREATER PRIZE !

  8. After hearing Derek Mckay on Radio Scotland this morning I can’t help but feel that the SNP undermine matters by giving credibility to the Gers figures. Although he did try his best to outline the caveat that the Gers are not relevant to an Independent Scotland he then went on to mess matters up by advocating the devolvement of greater powers for Scotland’s fiscal improvement. The SNP either have to accept that the GERS are an ideological tool designed to weaken the case for self governance or they are accurate (which we know they aren’t.) The ambiguity allows the Unionists room to exploit as Murdo Fraser did later in the show.

    I think it’s time we draw on historic parallels to assess how British Unionism will continue to play its hand. To that end i’m busy reading Tharoor’s book on the British in India “Inglorious Empire”. We have to be alert to the dangers posed to Scotland on the threshold of secession. The argument of dependency has been used by the British throughout the currency of the Empire and the benign munificence of England has always been advocated even amidst the abject exploitation of the host country.

    • Yes, the weapons we are fighting with are being chosen by the foe and they will fight dirty with all the power that weapon can muster for them, e.g. Banks, Business leaders, central bank – B of Eng and all the organisations and think tanks who prepare the stats / data and reports are in their pockets.

      When the weapon(s) of choice was our choice, e.g. What kind of Scotland do you want, social inclusion, protect poor / vulnerable people, renewables / green policies, non nuclear energy, no trident and not getting involved in foreign wars, we had the advantage yet kept getting dragged back onto phoney economic figures created whilst we are still in a period of false dependency under London rule and being forcibly removed from Europe.

      We need to get back into our agenda, this will be a challenge as not only our direct foes are attacking on all front, their instruments in the shape of the bbc and press are on an all out assault too.

      The times are going to get tough for independence, but that’s when the tough getting going – it’s hope against fear!

  9. Fantastic and engaging reflective writing, Derek.
    Perhaps the only aspect I find myself disagreeing with you completely is the idea of a federal UK.
    First of all because had the unionists being honest and truthful to their word this is exactly what we should be enjoying today courtesy of Gordon Brown and the three unionist leaders that are leaders no more. But we are not because we were lied to and deceived and instead the loyalty of Scotland to the UK was rewarded with EVEL and tory governments. This tells me that federalism in the UK is nothing but utopia: a big volume/mute dial that the unionist big wigs use to decrease the volume when the shouts for independence get too loud too be handled comfortable by the MSM PR.
    The second reason is the current governance arrangement in the UK. England does not even have its own defined English parliament as Wales, NI and Scotland have. What is the real basis for this difference? Power. Even worse than not having an English parliament is to me the fact that while the devolved administrations have their own members of the local parliament (elected by a form of PR) to decide and vote in devolved matters, England does not and strangely, uses the same MPs that have been elected under FPTP to represent England in UK matters. This is bizarre. It is as awkward as it would be using Members of the European Parliament to discuss UK only matters. Can you image the outrage of the brexiteers if this was the case? The impression this governance construct gives is that while Scotland, Wales and NI have devolved parliaments because they control a few devolved matters, England has full devolution and therefore does not need an extra parliament. Barnett reinforces for me this idea as the expenditure is always calculated on the basis of what England needs, not what Wales, NI or Scotland need. England has an 85% of the representation in Westminster: this means that at all effects England controls the UK parliament and is therefore at all effects fully devolved. Not so Wales, Scotland and NI. So, realistically, if England is at all practical effects fully devolved and as a matter of fact controls NI, Wales and Scotland’s assets and how much money they are allocated via Barnett, what exactly is the incentive for the English MPs to push for federalism? I think none, actually.
    All this hints heavily to the idea that the UK is some form of political construct more in line with an imperial power and a few colonies rather than a modern political union formed by autonomic regions/countries evolving progressively towards a federal state. By not giving England its own parliament and its own local MPs, Westminster (ie, the English MPs) are standing on the breaks of devolution and stalling any possibility of progression towards a federal state.
    The third reason is because we have had over 300 long years experience where while Scotland entered voluntarily into a political union as an equal partner, it has been however been treated as a colony with its resources exploited and this continues today. Therefore I cannot ever see England’s political representatives allowing Scotland to behave as an equal partner on anything. I think in such an scenario and with the same excuse of a higher population of England as they have used so far, we would be simply told how much to spend in defence and in what aspects of defence, what wars we must fight, even if we don’t want to, what countries will be our allies and what international unions we must be part of.
    Because of this I don’t think federalism is a realistic approach for as long as the enormous imbalance in the population distribution between Scotland and England remains. I want Scotland to be free and to take control over every aspect of government. After seeing how the English MPs forced upon us Trident, how they are forcing upon us Brexit, how they deceived us with the Sewell convention, how they hid the McCrone Report, how they took 6000 sq miles of Scottish waters and gave them to England, how they are forbidding Scotland to take part in the negotiations of Brexit, how they forced upon us the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the bombing of Syria, and specially how they are now angling to position themselves to take away from Holyrood (ie the Scottish people) the control of assets currently under the devolved umbrella, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a federal UK will end up again in some political concoction designed to allow an wide open door for the abuse of power by the English representatives, for the benefit of England, of course.
    No, independence is to me the only possible way to ensure that Scotland will be treated fairly and not as a colony by English politicians that are clearly partial to Scotland’s assets.

    • Absolutely, federalism would see London retain supremacy over Scotland.

      London would still control austerity, foreign affairs including EU relations and armed forces including locating trident.

      Federalism is the 2017 sop that devoliution was the 1997 sop, it is about to be pushed by the red tories.

      I want London government and English politicians influence out of our country’s life and all her people!

    • You are right Maria, independence is the only option to secure Scotland’s future. The question is how to achieve it and there appear to be three main options in my opinion (though other options may exist):
      1. Referendum II -this is a highly doubtful strategy in that (a) No voters are piling into Scotland from rest-UK at the rate of 500,000 each decade making another No vote highly likely (b) England’s 500 MP’s have to agree to a referendum anyway, and they also have to acknowledge the result, which they may not, and if they did ok the result they would also have the power to enact what an independent Scotland would look like, which might not be very pretty in terms of assets, liabilities etc.
      2. A majority of Scotland’s MP’s give notice to end the union now, in the same way it began, and negotiate (as with brexit) Scotland’s exit from the ‘union’ charade. This is a ‘hard indy’ option, but nothing different that a hundred other ex colonies have faced in the past
      3. Scotland’s democratically elected majorities of MP’s and MSP’s take the case for independence (which is effectively decolonisation), possibly after implementing 2. above, to the UN Special Committee for Decolonisation. The latter may seek a further referendum which could be better administered/controlled than in 2014 especially in regard to the voter franchise/qualification, use of propaganda etc.

      Alternatively the SNP could simply continue to twiddle their thumbs, take the colonial salaries, and hope for the best……

  10. I am emotionally committed to independence. And – win win – on top of that, I think it will be the economic making of us. Just look at how every other small North European country is doing, and ask yourself: what might it be that is holding Scotland back…?


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