Unfolding Brexit tragedy is a new low in post-war mismanagement


Commentary by Derek Bateman

Sorry not to join the general lament but I return from a few weeks in France* with renewed optimism about independence.

Derek Bateman

The infantile squabbling of the governing party in London is a pitiable sight. Their wilful myopia to the unfolding tragedy of Brexit is a new low in post war mismanagement. Even in the mayhem of Iraq, Blair at the time appeared decisive and determined.

We are witnessing in real time the breakdown of a government subjugating national interest for internecine turmoil.

Week by week their failure even to develop a plan is confirmed. Now there is the growing likelihood of a long-term transitional arrangement with Brussels being necessary to stave off the worst effects of withdrawal. The angry hordes who voted to leave and who have no understanding why we can’t just ‘resign’, will be maddened that those who promised swift closure and instant funds for public spending have failed them. And still the highly-charged door to immigration will be remain open…

We are now in a phase of history when, because of the ineptitude of that cowardly clown Cameron, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The so-called government he bequeathed has no touch let alone political elan. The juxtaposition of billions for a London Crossrail system with withdrawal of upgrading for essential rail services to Wales, the West country and the English north is a prime example.


To anyone outside the metropolitan bubble it is nothing less than a government saying F**k You to the rest of the country. As taxpayers’ billions pour into overheated London, the provinces are deliberately left in spartan penury. More than half of transport spending now goes to one corner of the country, a total of £1500 more per head. That’s a figure you don’t hear repeated with the same emotional venom applied to higher Scottish spending.

I have also experienced a morbid pleasure in watching the promises and vows of the pre-2014 British campaign bomb before our eyes. Recall with grim satisfaction how we were told with solemn sincerity that companies would leave an independent Scotland…then read how, daily the finance sector is transferring staff out of London and opening alternative offices in (independent) Ireland and Holland. See how even the horticulture sector which is dependent on outside labour, is now planning to move wholesale its production to Eastern Europe where the workers are.

Remember how the Scottish currency would lose its value without the unshakable strength of the UK behind it…then see the volatility of sterling since the Brexit vote. Prices in the shops would go up…that’s happening now while wages stagnate.

Hear again the echoes of the Alistair Darling threats of doom for the economy…before googling today’s news of ‘notable’ slowdown and ‘grim’ forecasts.


Revisit your memories of Unionists scoffing at how we would be perceived in the world – ‘wee Scotland out on its own’ – then check out what even our American allies are writing about us losing our collective mind. Read what Europe regards as fantasy imperial posturing by a rickety, class-ridden country. They are laughing at the UK – the Eddie the Eagle of European nations.

And, how could we forget? We were told by the wise and statesmanlike Darling that voting Yes would remove us from EU membership which would be catastrophic. How did that one go?

The only thing Darling got right was moving on to the board of Morgan Stanley to continue trousering yet more of the private sector pounds that were his trademark as an MP.

In other words the case made for the Union just three years ago is in ruins today. In a second campaign what threats could they make that would be credible? What could they say that wouldn’t have the voters rolling in the aisles? Who indeed could replace the wooden, angry Darling as front for the British state this time? Which one of the Tory Brexit buffons would Scots listen to? When it comes to more than a simplistic shouting match, could Davidson, a mouthy zealot from the right wing, rally a majority?

And, crucially, whose side would business be on this time? Interesting to see among others, Struan Stevenson, leader a pro-business pro-Union group, putting his name to the 60-strong letter asking for Brexit to be re-thought.

Because the question now is: What happens when the Tories take us out?


If the EU is truly crucial to national interest, to jobs and investment and growth, what does a Unionist businessman do when confronted with downturn, loss of contracts, shortage of revenue, falling share value, loss of market share, redundancies, restricted borrowing and extra administration and costs? Does he go down with the UK ship? Or does he finally accept the logic adopted by other small nations and embrace his own country’s European destiny?

It is becoming a no-brainer. And if business swallows its doubts about independence as the least worst option, how long will it take for the politicians to catch up?

There is a risk of course in any extended interim deal for the UK becoming the new norm and taking all the heat out of the issue. If that happens and people get used to just drifting along still in the EU but not of the EU, the independence case could suffer the same fate. It could go off the boil.

That’s where effective campaigning comes in because such deal would extend the period over which Scotland can plan and hold another vote before the UK slams the door on membership.

The option are there. The times are volatile. The Union is flaky. The threats are demolished. The disaster is unfolding.

And we are still here. Committed. Determined. And optimistic. Well, I am. Must be my holiday…

*This confused everyone at Newsnet Towers, as we thought Derek had been in Portugal for the past month…Ed


  1. Welcome back Derek. We really need you. This post is how I’d like it to be, but I’m finding it hard to be optimistic right now, partly because of the nonsense being put about by Boyd, Haggerty, Greer and co.
    What are they at, and how do we hold the independence movement together?
    Your ever sensible voice is much needed.

  2. There is an old expression which describes our colonial masters and their current antics perfectly – They don’t know whether they are having a lower alimentary evacuation or a haircut.

  3. Very accurate.
    You could also add Jeremy Corbyn with his 1945 Labour party attitude, to list of headcases.

    • ‘Closer to 1980 than 1945, I think. Clement Attlee had a progressive programme, though it was a very centralist one.

  4. Nice to see you back and feeling so optimistic.

    Here is one major line of attack I see in IndyRef2 (regardless of how Brexit pans out – and I can’t see that going too well) – Scotland’s major market is south of the border not the EU and simpletons (of which there are many) and those grasping at straws and hoping for no change or damn the consequences (of which there are even more) will treat this as a simple arithmetic exercise : we’ve got to go with the bigger market (they’ll ignore any changes that might occur along the way in terms of customs duties etc.).

    They will also fall for notions relating to the ‘Best of Both’ thanks to an SNP Govt. saving Scots from the harshest elements of Tory Govt and border posts (while ignoring whatever happens with Ireland, Gibralter, etc. and the fact that most other countries don’t have major border problems). They’ll conjure up a barrier of the mind that I haven’t seen Business for Scotland tackle yet.
    The reason they will be easily conned is because in essence they are the type of people who long for their world to be controlled, rather than taking control themselves, and they are not alone – virtually every Conservative voter believes in a masterful Government that has the moral right to make decisions for everyone. Think Father (maybe Mother) knows best. Upstart youngsters (Salmond/Sturgeon) need to know their place and no amount of logical argument will change these individuals, regardless of their intellectual ability.

    But for those who can be swayed the question is, how do you convince the uncommitted middle that it is best to vote for Independence? Will plain economic facts convince them – optimistically rocketing oil prices, massive balance of payments surplus if GERS refuted with real data and not 25 out of 26 figures being estimates, etc. Maybe aye (after all a substantial proportion of the population reckoned if they could be guaranteed to be £500 p.a. better off they would vote YES). Maybe no (we cannae be greedy, we’ve got tae stick wi’ oor neighbours).

    Some bright individual(s) needs to come up with an appealing narrative or framework that ties simple facts into an emotionally compelling story for a substantial proportion of those swing Yessers and get it across to people and embedded into their minds within the next few months – a year at the most. It’s certainly not one I’ve come across yet and one that will become ingrained immediately it is heard (catchphrases only go so far). And of course it won’t be promoted in the MSM. So can come up with the dream package that will appeal to the majority of Scots residents.

    I guess there are some bright individuals in the SNP and the YES movement as a whole (stand up Derek) but can they get such a narrative to develop and across to people without the kind of momentum that built in 2014 to really rattle the Westminster Establishment?

    Without a date for IndyRef2, not even a date for the firing gun to get things started, the mainstream media is busy wearing the uncommitted group down, day by day, and allowing differences to multiply in Indy supporters (Enough is enough, sounds just about right to a lot of people when it comes to elections and referendums).

    Can the MSM be countered? I’d say an optimistic YES but it means detaching young people from Corbynism and hitching them once again to the Independence bandwagon and I don’t see much effort along these lines yet, though I trust the relaunch of an active nationwide Indy movement after the meetings between Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Independence Convention will bear fruit. They know the middle has to move, but so do Unionists and they have the think tanks, the media, and financial backing. So, for Indy, it is up to the people and digital media (and that won’t be SNP controlled) . We almost succeeded once, we can succeed next time as the root and branch movement has bedded in (despite all the petty minded squabbles of late) and ready to go.

    Mike Small, Christopher Silver, Lesley Riddoch and other analysts and writers throw out a lot of useful ideas but what I’d like to know is which ones are likely to appeal to the man and woman in the street. As a man with his finger on the pulse, Derek, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on how and when to start countering what will be the big issues – including the ones that worry me most: simple minded approaches to markets, borders, and we’ve got the Best o’ both.


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