Why is it not plain to many Scots that the Union really is a mug’s game?


By Derek Bateman

I’m thinking about taking the advice of Unionist friends and giving this up. They think I’m wasting my time because I’m not any good.

But the real reason for stopping is altogether different…is there any point?

Derek Bateman
Derek Bateman

What more do we have to do to show that, whatever your doubts about independence, sticking with the UK is a mug’s game? Are we really thirled to a country that allows 10,000 people to lose their jobs and many their expected pensions so a gold digger and tax dodger can buy his third massive yacht…do we really owe allegiance to a parliament that knowingly says No to a mere 3000 destitute and frightened children…can we stomach the corruption that allows a cover-up of 96 unnecessary deaths to last nearly 30 years…or the biggest transfer of public money to the richest few in history in a bank bail-out and money-printing exercise…while an unfair sacking can’t be challenged without £500 in cash up front…where landlords are handed billions in subsidies while a majority of young adults can’t buy a home…where we are reliant on foreign governments for energy policy and pile taxpayers’ money into inflated nuclear price deals that last a generation…and a country where promise after promise made to hold us in is cynically broken by a Prime Minister who one day loves us and the next tells a colleague he couldn’t care less if we stay or go?


Whatever doubts exist over a future outside the UK – and there are salient issues at play – have we not reached the stage where the minuses outweigh the pluses. If you’re Unionist by instinct, how do you view the running of Britain today as the various brands of Toryism spit and scratch at each other over EU membership? Is an internal ideological schism enough reason to risk the stability of the country for the foreseeable future? Isn’t that why so many couldn’t risk their vote for Yes – uncertainty over economic buoyancy and yet here it is being threatened on a grander scale by the same people who told us instability had to be avoided?

It was the same Tories who told us our European future was safer in the Union. The Clyde shipyards had only one guarantee – a No vote – something now worth less than it was as the MoD squirms over its reduced and delayed orders. The union men who fronted the No campaign look like suckers now but isn’t that the way it is for us all?

How many times do we have to learn the lesson so many automatic apologists of government never do…politicians lie. Not just mislead by pointing out partial facts that suit their case but dishonestly fabricate and falsify. The list of such crimes against Scotland since the indyref lengthens to removal of the carbon capture project (again), cutting support for renewables and, of course the fast delivery of major constitutional change. The scale of the let-downs reminds us just how rattled the British were and of the depths of their desperation to keep control of us – an odd juxtaposition with their constant narrative of subsidy from England and disregard for claims for more powers.


Is the Unionist answer still: Aye, but it would be far worse after a Yes vote? There are still frigate orders coming, just not as many or as quick and there would be none at all under independence. Is that true? Would a government deep in debt and frantically selling off any utility it can to raise money really upsticks from the Clyde, invest in an English port at a cost of hundreds of millions, search for a qualified workforce, all with only vindictiveness as motive?

The naval man who gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee made clear that existing orders would be fulfilled because it was simply too tricky to do otherwise.

It’s true that for the doubters the specific arguments over the economy and currency outweigh all else but, even as they remain sceptical, do they still view the old UK with equanimity? Is it still the powerful political and cultural entity that makes the heart beat faster? Cameron and Osborne have hollowed out the idea of the island nation by squeezing everything that makes life better for ordinary citizens from the threat to human rights, the attack on universal welfare, the deliberate rejection and impoverishment of youth and the feather-bedding of pensioners, the obsessive concentration of subsidy and wealth in the South East, the demonization of immigration and asylum and the Victorian hounding of claimants.


What are the SNP sins that compare? Well, from the Left, they haven’t done enough for the dispossessed and won’t put taxes up. From the Right, they’re Hell-bent on a second referendum. Neither, I’d say, convincing to the traditional Unionist No voter. (They haven’t even got a referendum in the manifesto).
Are Unionists waiting for a gentler Conservatism? Or for Jeremy Corbyn? If the election returns another SNP government there will be many who will finally come to terms with the changed reality of a Scotland determinedly different from the rest of the country and ask themselves if it isn’t also time they got in tune.

Supporting the Union means voting for Dugdale, Davidson or Rennie and their scarecrow parties. The days when there was talent and gravitas in abundance are long gone. Just as an earlier generation deserted the Tories (for Roseanna Cunningham in Perth in the mid 90’s and for Blairite Labour) so the remaining core of Unionism will have to decide – thrawn to the end or embrace the new orthodoxy?

Those who opt for Davidson do so in the knowledge they are backing the government and scorched earth policies of Cameron. At one time a vote for anything up to 20 Scottish Tory MPs was married directly to the powerful London-based party who had UK-wide popularity. Today there is a single nice but unimpressive MP feeding into a divisive centre. Davidson’s Holyrood troup exists almost exclusively because of a PR system in a chamber they tried to stop happening.

Most of us can at least vote with pride and conviction. But how often can you vote with a heavy heart and a reluctant hand for something you know is passing and may soon be gone?

Put it this way. If you haven’t understood the decline of Britain, you’re unlikely to grasp the vision for Scotland. And that means I’m wasting my time.


  1. “while an unfair sacking can’t be challenged without £500 in cash up front”

    When did it go down. I though the tories put it up to £1500?

  2. Looks as if Labour and Libdem voters are placing their list votes Ruth’s Tory way to make sure she is the official opposition and msm darling for the next 5 years. Unless the Yes movement get a grip and vote for Greens on the list: SNP1/Greens2.

    • Sorry Alf, but thinking the Greens are going to get 20-30 seats, the number they would need to have any chance of being the opposition, is way beyond fanciful. In any case, why should Yes voters support a party whose commitment to independence is no more than tactical.

      • Angry Weegie, the biggest tactical vote at this election seems to be the ongoing shift of Labour and Libdem NO voters to vote Tory on the list and bring about a Tory opposition, something the msm and NO camp are desperate for to give them something to hang onto and shout about for the next 5 years. Greens are rising in the polls daily and who knows if they can reach 18-19% or more by next Thursday? Stranger things have happened – e.g. we have 56 SNP ‘Indy’ MP’s, though they keep awfie quiet.

        • Sorry Alf but suggesting that the 56 SNP MPs keep awfie quiet is an absurd distortion of the truth. In many quarters the SNP and in particular Mr Stewart Hosie are regarded as the ‘real’ opposition.

          • Tony, it may be more useful here to analyse what exactly the objectives of the 56 are, and what their achievements are or will be over the 5 year term at Westminister? I am less than impressed by efforts thus far to simply be an ‘opposition’ to Westminster.

            My most recent suggestion on this was that the 56 might have been better employed in setting up shadow ministries for reserved powers matters in Scotland, or even perhaps also establishing a shadow second chamber for Holyrood. I appreciate these entities would not be ‘recognised’ by the UK state (or its civil servants in Scotland), but so what? The idea would be to further plan and prepare the way to independence, as most other former colonies had to do. To be ready, as it were. Sitting in Westminster achieves very little as far as I can see.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve never understood why the relentless economic decline of the UK over the past hundred years or so isn’t enough evidence that getting unhitched from the UK government is the key to ending the decline in Scotland. But then I’ve never understood why two events aren’t enough to have 90% clammering for independence – firstly the Labour ammendment to the 1979 devolution referendum that turned a yes vote into a no vote, and secondly the McCrone report contents and the fact that it was hidden for thirty years by both Tories and Labour. I’ve just finished reading ‘The Grand Delusion’ which is a history of the UK over the last sixty years. The sixty years prior to this period are covered by Correlli Barnett’s books and it’s the same story in both. An ‘elite’ that just can’t let go of the past. If I had to ask a unionist just one simple question I suppose it would be – ‘what happened to all the north sea oil money.’ Even with such a massive national lottery win they still continued to screw things up. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Why this relentless history of UK economic and social incompetence isn’t crystal clear to most people never ceases to baffle me.

  4. “Why is it not plain to many Scots that the Union really is a mug’s game?”

    Because they don’t get the information.

    Try asking people down your local High St if they’ve heard of the London Allowance/Weighting (about £3000 – £6000 at present). In the case of public sector employees it comes from UK wide taxes, in the private sector from a disproportionate share of a companies profits compared to their counterparts in the rest of the UK. In both cases more cash ends up circulating in London. When did you last hear about this via the London dominated media?

    A while back the Tories had a real whiz of an idea – see how we pay people in London more because it’s so expensive to live here (note, HERE) – how about those other places where houses are dead cheap, we could pay people less there (as in, THERE).

  5. ps I’ll be voting SNP 1&2 because there’s no way I’m taking any risk of letting the UK establishment’s superior, arrogant, CASH rich, greedy, controlling bullies off the hook.

    N.B the establishment – parliament, media, business. Not the vast majority of the rUK population many of whom are in the same boat as ourselves.

  6. For a significant proportion of voters, we know why. Many older people retain an emotional loyalty to the post-War Britain of their youth and get most of their news and political commentary from the BBC and other corporate media.

  7. Derek refers to “20 Scottish Tory MPs” as in the distant past of scottish politics. However polling suggests unionist tactical list voting may result in “20 Scottish Tory” MSPs being elected next week, and that they might also become the official opposition at Holyrood given slab’s rapid ongoing decline. This would be presented as a major ‘coup’ by Westminister’s governing elite and the msm, providing a platform and very strong focus on Ruth for the next 5 years, which could strengthen or hold steady the unionist ‘argument’ not diminish it. A Tory opposition would be facilitated by voting SNP1+2; but it could be prevented by voting SNP1/Greens2, which is what I will be voting.

  8. Agree wholeheartedly with this article. Too many pensioners (of which I am one) turn up on voting day and put their cross on the party they have always done so for. Regrettably, most don’t look into politics too much and just follow the information fed to them by a biased media and, no matter how much you try to persuade them, they’ll hum and haw and vote, not with their heart but with the fear you can see in their eyes as the propaganda they’re fed is the only thing they know.

    • Utter nonsense. Their policy is supported by all the main children’s organisations, RSSPCC, Barnardos, etc.

    • It was supported by the other parties in Holyrood; if they are saying differently now (I’m thinking Kezia Dugdale in particular), it is political opportunism.

  9. As hard as it is to get through to these unionists that are blinkered and most will always be.
    NEVER Give up DEREK, because of people like you, wings, Newsnet, we managed to convince a lot of staunch unionists, to come over to the YES side.

    A lot of the NO voters, are now finding out for themselves, that maybe they voted the wrong way, especially among the ship building industry, the steel workers, the Oil workers, all who were told, vote NO, and your jobs will go…well their jobs have went.

    That is how the UNION treats Scotland, it can not be trusted, it never could, surely for a lot of people now it never will again… But it will take people like you, with your blog & you posts on Newsnet, to keep changing minds, then we, your readers, share your posts far & wide…


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