Let’s get back to basics on Scottish independence and Europe


Commentary by Derek Bateman

The SNP favour the Norway option which I can’t stop thinking of as a Monty Python sketch in a pet shop involving a dead parrot. ‘That’s a Norwegian Blue, sir.’

Alex Neil thinks we should embrace Brexit along with UKIP, the Tories and, now I see, the Labour Party. So it’s about taking back control. You know, like the lunatics taking over the asylum. There are side dishes of EFTA and EEA to complete the whole dog’s breakfast. I have no idea how we expect the public to sift through this and make sense of it without clear leadership.

Derek Bateman
Derek Bateman

We need to go back to basics and remember that if we’d voted to become a proper country we wouldn’t be in this mess at all. Oh sure, we’d be in a different mess of a post-vote new order with currency questions and deficit problems – except of course that’s exactly what we’ve got anyway by ducking out of making the big decision. Almost every one of Better Together’s predictions of doom after a Yes vote are coming true after a No vote. Caveat emptor.

We could now be safely inside the EU club as an aspiring member state waiting to take the rUK’s place instead of watching helplessly from the sidelines pleading to be heard. This is our reward for being good British citizens and depending on the experience of the UK to do the right thing. Vote No to stay in the EU – except when we change our mind in which case you’re out along with us. And, by the way, this is going to hurt.

There was always a risk in designing the Yes case as a silver bullet. Voters know life isn’t like that and, as I keep saying, we should have given a more realistic picture of post-referendum Scotland. Because even with forging new partnerships, seeking funding and rebalancing our commitments, we would still look at today’s Brexit mess and feel a sense of relief that it didn’t apply to us. Indeed Brexit without Scotland would have added impetus to the process of entering us on to the Brussels club membership. There would be urgency to settle our case before EU talks started with London. It would also have turbo charged the discussions between Edinburgh and London paving the way for Scotland leaving the Union. Downing Street would be under pressure to settle the Scottish issue quickly before moving on. Meanwhile we would have the support of friends in Brussels where we would be on the front line of maintaining the European ideal in the face of the separatists.


Too late now, of course. Except it is a reminder of what our case is and has always been – independence. It has become the word that dare not speak its name as we wrestle with accommodations, trade deals and customs unions. We need to remember the cause is greater than the compromises. I am a committed European but if you ask me to vote for independence outside the EU, I vote Yes. Equally I expect anti Europeans to back independence in the EU if that’s the option.

It’s hard to think of anything worse than being an afterthought in a xenophobic Tory Little England outside the European mainstream, begging for deals with Trump while the national debt balloons and the deficit grows. I can’t see how remaining locked in to London and a political system in which even the opposition has given up, is beneficial. It surely is the unyielding Unionists who are cult-like in adherence to the suicidal incompetence of Johnson, Fox and Davis who are making the UK a laughing stock. For many of us the British government failed to speak our language a long time ago but we still heard echoes of our view in the Labour Party. Yet the meandering contradictions and sophistry of Corbyn’s regime denies us even that.

Revealing, I thought, that the never previously shown Better Together film appearing on the internet through Buzzfeed doesn’t reference Scotland at all. It is entirely focussed on Britain with a commentary making absolutely clear that the UK is the Unionists’ country, not Scotland. It is about retaining the UK hegemony in which it implies Scots only play a part for the charity available. There is no attempt to portray any difference or variation or native distinctiveness – just Our Britain. It shows how Scotland continues to be enveloped in the maw of collective British identity and in their mind deserves no distinct recognition.


We didn’t want to press too hard for indyref2 because the SNP wanted to go forward with the other parties arguing for our place in the single market. That was a wasted idea with pygmy politicians voting down anything the SNP propose and to hell with public interest.

Whatever you think of our railways, the current Ruritanian row demanding a resignation as if it would change anything, signifies an opposition bereft of realism let alone ideas. When the country faces the looming implosion of Brexit, wouldn’t a real politician apply his energy to finding a unified resolution before it’s too late?

It’s hard not to conclude that even after a Yes vote the same Lego legislators would spend their time on diversions and fail to do their duty to the voters and the nation.

From now on I’d like to hear independence again used as the ultimate option whenever an aspect of the Brexit business is raised. Yes, we could possibly have a different deal with the EU inside the UK. Or…we could take what is ours and work directly with European neighbours to deliver the goals of a united Europe. We’re in danger of combing through the minutiae looking for morsels when by lifting our eyes we can see the whole horizon.


  1. Its getting close to the point where Sturgeon insists the UK government pish ( for Scotland) or get off the pot.
    Since Treeza appears unwilling to do either, then its indyref2. Timing is all.

    Meanwhile the Three Stooges ( though mainly Boris) rampage round Europe showing all the diplomatic tact of a Bullingdon Boys outing—-“sa’right, Pater will pay furr’a damage”.
    The EU may have its trouble, but its nothing like the UK’s

    The BBC covers a whole host of domestic issues in England—police, NHS, local government etc.
    On none of these issues does it imply that central government is at fault, or that ministers heads should roll.
    BBC Scotland, on the other hand, ALWAYS puts the blame on the Scottish Government, for anything.

  2. The leaders of the British State care nothing for Scotland and probably never did. They could rely, however, on the politico-cultural conservatism of the majority of Scots to maintain the status quo no matter how bad things became. The Tory, Labour and Liberal slaves of Unionism continue that ‘good work’. Independence is the great neutalising antedote to this existential toxin. With it we as a nation will hopefully be roused from the nightmare of national self-deprecation. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity and nationalist leaders need to get on with business of securing it.

    • It was revealed by Clegg that Cameron DIDNT care whether Scotland stayed or not.
      The UK has no plan for Brexit.
      The UK has no plan for a Scotland where half the population want to leave.

      Mundell swans around, like the small town lawyer he is, parachuted into the Big City—-a one man band (though he has he support of the only Scottish Labour and Lib Dumb MP’s) lecturing a Scottish Government elected with 48% of the vote and 56 out of 59 MPs, as though they were naughty children.
      And while Scotland is threatened with an armed border, Ireland is lauded as though it was England’s bestest pal.
      This is the same Ireland that stayed neutral during a world war, and has been shooting and bombing UK citizens for a century.

      • England has had a closer and longer ‘relationship’ with Ireland than with Scotland. Scotland did not suffer the socio-cultural depredations to the extent of Ireland. We were never, officially at least, a colony, although despite a treaty of political union we might well have been. During the 18th and early 19th centuries Scots were considered potential enemies within the gate. The Scots Unionist Walter Scott changed that. A nation of romantic losers was created. It endures still. It is the teat on which Unionism continues to suck. Time we were weaned.

  3. I watch this from high point in the City of London, gambling den so to speak, where we gamify everything based on variables aplenty.

    One of our games is ‘what will the SNP do before/ after article 50’. We got this bang on?

    Before: Feed the media. Make it look like you are trying to stay. Offer options that are nigh on impossible to fill. Poke the bear and get them to growl. All the time play it smoothly and let them make the plays.

    After: Trigger #indyref2 – actually, wait a month and create it such that it will actually come after as much speculation as possible. Make it primary – in opposition to the fervour of Brexit reality. For thats when the mess will unravel and the unionists will be at their weakest. The referendum to come will be a sledgehammer to the union, it will shatter – there will be no ‘better together’ – its already falling apart – into ‘get lost’.

    I suspect they’ll do exactly this. It will be timed to trigger Scotland’s independence the same say as rUK’s from Europe.

    Soar Alba. @2p3rf3ct

  4. There is no way that an English PM,Cameron or whoever,would have held a Engexit referendum in circumstances where Scotland was either independent or well on the way to it.
    Without Scottish resources,an independent English state would have to face reality and accept that they are no longer a world power and that their future is best served by cooperating with their fellow Europeans.
    We have Scotland’s No voters to thank for the mess we are now in and I hope they now realise that their interests are no longer served by the London establishment.
    We live in hope.

  5. There are two kinds of people that would vote for independence; first lot are nationalists that believe there was once a Scottish nation and they want to recreate it. 2nd lot are those who would vote for independence if they thought knew we would be financially better off. Me, well I am a baby boomer and like many of that generation don’t give a monkeys about Scottish’ness I am only interested in financial gain. The ever expanding older generation are the hard core nationalist’s real problem, because the older people become idealism of youth is usually replaced with cautious pragmatism. Simply put most old people wont gamble their various pensions.

    • I hope the older people you’re talking about won’t be relying on the tiny UK state pension for any substantial part of their income because we already know that it’s next in the firing line for at least an effective reduction if not an actual one.

      As this Tory government are only interested in the 1%, everyone else will sooner or later lose out. First we had the unemployed, then the disabled, then the working poor, then the pensioners. There aren’t many groups left for cutting to allow the greatest union in the world to “live within its means” and you can be absolutely certain it won’t be the 1%.

      So good luck to all those middle class Brits voting for reductions in their standard of living and poverty for their children and grandchildren.

      • “because we already know that it’s next in the firing line” Maybe or maybe not, who really knows? Not you or me. It’s typical for people to spout stuff they know nothing about.“As this Tory government are only interested in the 1%, everyone else will sooner or later lose out. “ yada yada hmm what’s next, you just wait and see, ‘I telt you so’. Right now the tories are interested in the grey vote because that’s what is keeping them in power, where did the triple lock come from eh? It will be there for a few years to come, least until the voting demographics change. Worse still for Scotland is our expanding ageing demographics are worse than England, even as far as until 2035. We will require the large population of England to pay for our pensions for many years to come; if you know where else we are going to get that money please tell, I am all ears.

        • Surely not the stupid pensions argument again. Debunked such a long time ago, the ink on the paper must be starting to fade. Even WM agrees that all existing pensions will continue to be paid by the rUK based on the credit accrued from contributions paid over each person’s working life, just as the UK government pays the pensions of all other UK retirees, even those who are resident in other countries. So let’s not base discussions on the “Scotland is uniquely unable to fend for itself” argument. It falls short of pathetic.

  6. As a baby boomer, I care deeply about the world, the society and the country I live in, and try to combat the meanspirited rapaciousness that is so characteristic of the kind of mildly sociopathic individuals who don’t mind who else suffers as they claw their way towards some tawdry definition of materialistic and consumerist success.

    Life is about more than that. Freedom, justice, fairness, and end to homelessness, hunger, poverty and exclusion are all worth fighting for, despite the way elements of the People’s Party have adulterated and degraded them into empty slogans as they continue to advance their own careers and feather their own nests.

    Democracy matters. Care, kindness and compassion matter. Education matters. Economic security matters. Making sure people have the opportunity to grow, and to flourish, and to be the best people they can be, that matters too. The contemptible, mean-spirited, narrow-minded populists, xenophobic demagogues and other specimens of low life who make up the regime in Westminster aren’t going to give us any of that. As for those of us in our seventh decade and beyond, it is no fun to live in a country that treats you as a useless sponger, and your pension as something to be cut and your pension fund as something to be raided so that it can lavish money on the already rich and on weapons of mass destruction, while more and more people need to turn to food banks to feed their children. We can do better than that. It would, after all, be difficult to do worse.

    • I agree entirely with what you say Edward. But how long before the Westminster disregard for Scottish democracy turns into outright hatred. People voted in their droves for the SNP, they voted resoundingly to stay in Europe, and they did not vote for this Westminster Tory government. When democracy fails then the time comes when other dynamics come in to play.

    • “As a baby boomer, I care deeply about the world” That’s as far as I got. The majority of baby boomers are far more pragmatic than that; I’ll be dead soon enough, there was injustice and corruption long before I was born and equally the same will apply after I am gone. Basically get real; anyone who thinks that is not the situation is naive and if you are over sixty then you’re exceptionally naive. Example I voted for the status quo in both the 2014 and in June referendums; the reason in both cases was the risky financial implications; basically better the devil you know, and that’s how most people of my generation think. Idealists might not like the idea that there could be so many cold calculating individuals but that’s still the reality. The older people become the less likely they are to take chances and I don’t give monkeys if you’re ninety year old mother has just done her first bungee jump, that’s the exception.

      • As someone else who is over 60, I couldn’t agree with you less. And I don’t believe the majority of others our age in Scotland subscribe to such a selfish and negative viewpoint.

        • Sorry but it was largely they grey vote on 2014 referendum that scuppered independence; its not even to do with being selfish but older people are just less likely to take chances on given subject. Sorry but it was they grey vote on 2014 referendum that scuppered independence. Research has shown that older people when faced with important decisions about their health, their financial future, and their social environment will generally always lean towards the status quo. Age differences in risk-taking behaviours in multiple risk domains across the adult life span research has always revealed that risk-taking tendencies in the financial domain reduce steeply in older age. Risk taking in the social domain increases slightly from young to middle age, before reducing sharply in later life. Whereas recreational risk taking reduces more steeply from young to middle age than in later life. Ethical and health risk taking reduce relatively smoothly with age. Findings also reveal gender differences in risk taking with age. Financial risk taking reduced steeply in later life for men especially but also women and risk taking in the social domain reduced more sharply for women than for men.

  7. Derek, thanks for saying much more eloquently what I was trying to say at the SNP Conference in the EU debate.

    Let’s take control and make our own history . Independence in or out of the EU. We have it in our hands. Our land provides the key.

  8. Here’s a wee thought – regardless of where you are on/in the political stramash, what about giving the people who actually live in Scotland, the control over the resources of Scotland – if anyone thanks that would be a bad idea, go ahead and explain so we can all enjoy your reasoning 😉

    • I agree with you Graeme, however at the present time, even after independence were achieved Scotland’s institutions, land and resources would still be controlled by a unionist elite establishment, as is the case today. Our political leaders need to do something about that. The SNP has failed to do anything about this unionist elite ‘control’ over three terms now and there are many areas they could have acted but refused to do so. Left in control now, during transition, or after indy, these elites will always undermine Scotland and its people – its in their nature, psyche and culture.

  9. “unionist elite” no its a world elite that control everything; unfortunately they don’t have much of plan because the game of chess they are playing has no rules. The only thing that matters is that they somehow stay in the game and we stay as pawns. Not that I am advocating revolution; sorry but Castro supporters can go and take a leak into a strong head wind.

  10. Hi Steve. I’d be interested to hear what you think would constitute a big enough shift in U.K. economic direction of travel to convince you independence might be a better bet?Brexit? National debt? Rise of far right?
    And I assume you don’t have kids right? It seems to be all about you. Or am I missing something?

  11. Off Topic…
    Airdrieonians for Independence are hosting a special preview screening of the widely anticipated documentary film London Calling on Thursday 1st December 2016 from 7pm until 9pm in the One Wellwynd Centre, Airdrie, ML6 0BN.
    Based on the book London Calling: How The BBC Stole The Referendum by GA Ponsonby, the film draws on the source material and contains interviews with many of those involved in the independence campaign of 2014, including former British diplomat Craig Murray and Professor John Robertson of Glasgow University.
    We will be joined on the night by a special guest, the author GA Ponsonby, who will be taking part in the discussion after the screening of the film.
    Admission is free and refreshments will be available, although donations will be welcome to cover the cost of the hall.
    Please come early to guarantee a seat.
    You can register your interest in the event at our Facebook page.


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