Referendum that left Scotland’s fate in the hands of Westminster

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Commentary by Derek Bateman

What did you think you were voting for? In September 2014 the question on the ballot may have said independence, but forget the terminology for a moment. What it meant was: Do you want Scots to have the power over their own lives or do you want to leave it up to whoever is in charge in Westminster?

Derek Bateman
Derek Bateman

Now you may have looked at nice David Cameron and thought he’s not so bad. I’ll go with him. But that’s as stupid as not voting Yes because you didn’t like Alex Salmond. It was a vote on running the country of the future – you know, the place your kids will live in and their kids. In case you hadn’t noticed governments change, politicians come and go, ideas develop and fade. The point was to ask yourself where are the best decisions likely to be made in your interests – Edinburgh or London? Who’s likely to have Scotland’s interests closest to heart – Scots at Holyrood or an 85 per cent English Parliament?

Did you honestly never consider that events might alter the course of history? Did you miss the barrow boy anti-anybody-but-England bile of UKIP? Did you ponder what kind of person Iain Duncan Smith was? Or Boris Johnson? Were you listening to what they were saying?

There was an election after you voted No in 2014. It all but wiped out the voices of Unionism here. This was a message as unambiguous as an iceberg. It said to the London government that we were in revolt. We’d had enough. The referendum vote was a warning – one that could be repeated and we were now saying from the far North to the Border that we demanded real change this time. We were sick of constitutional complexities and double-speak. This was the last chance – deep, permanent, comprehensive devolution of powers to put an end to the resentment or the drums will start up again.

IGNORED

Instead of mature discussion, we got EVEL. Every amendment to the legislation based on the Smith irrelevance was ignored. We live in a ‘nation’ where a single MP, perhaps the most personally unimpressive individual ever to hold ministerial office, represents the entire elected strength of the State. What he says counts more than the First Minister’s voice, more than your opinion, more than the entire electorate of Scotland. We have a government representative who has said that the country he speaks for does not exist in law. He has said it is not his job to be Scotland’s man in Cabinet.

He has though led a piece of legislative chicanery which purported to guarantee Holyrood’s place in UK decision-making by making it the most powerful devolved parliament in the world. Smith declared that the parliament should be ‘made permanent in UK legislation and the Sewel Convention put ‘on a statutory footing.’

This was unctuously portrayed by Mundell as a major and meaningful concession.

But the wording made clear it was no such thing. They are political, not legal considerations, as the Supreme Court has duly ruled.

MANOEVRE

Did you yearn to believe them? Do you console yourself by pretending the Theresa May and her violent anti-EU manoeuvre is really listening to you? Forgive me, but if so, should you reconsider your own mental competence? What does it take to make you realise that as a Scottish resident and, collectively as a nation, you are a second class citizen in your own country? Are we now so filled with self revulsion that humiliation has lost its meaning? There are intelligent and wise people I know who believe fervently in Scotland and England hanging together and truly find independence an alien creed. If you’re one of them, how do you look at this judgment from the highest court in your ‘United’ Kingdom which says loud and clear your government believes you to be unworthy of consultation – so far beneath contempt that even with the strongest devolved government in the world and a resounding vote to remain in the EU, you will be disregarded – swept aside like crumbs from their table? Remember, this is their view too of people of the other nations of the UK. The United Kingdom? This is a government that is trying desperately to prevent submitting its plan to democratic scrutiny in parliament – that is being dragged into using the time-honoured process of representative democracy. Such epic arrogance was never going to accommodate anything as insignificant as Scottish opinion.

And this is what you voted for.

WHEEDLED

I grow tired of the outrage of those who wheedled their way via the media through the referendum by placing their faith in British promises of fair play and somehow if we stayed loyal, the honest yeomanry of Olde England would see us right, squire. They may not have wanted independence nor seen its necessity, but in their inner tortured soul did they really think the British would cede what Scotland wanted? All experience points the opposite way and they concede the least they can get away with. Even the tax raising powers are devised as a trap by funnelling revenue raising into income tax only so as to become politically unpopular.

To the Westminster parties, we aren’t a country on a map – we are a board on which a game of politics can be played. First to screw the SNP is the winner. Call it Snakes and Ladders.

From 7am that day in September until 10pm we held the power to control our country, our destiny, if you like. When you voted No, you handed it all back – to people who couldn’t care less. Oh sure, they’ll go along with you but only until you demand something they’re uncomfortable with. Then they’ll give you a sad wee look and say: Nah. Doesn’t suit me. End of…

We’re in this mess now because of your vote, however legitimate you thought it was to turn down your own country’s independence. Perhaps it was because of those broad shoulders that would take the strain. Well, those shoulders are shrugging at you today.

DECLARATION

I can only think that as a No voter you pretend none of this really matters and it’ll turn out ok. And whatever disasters befall Britain, independence was always going to be worse. If so, it confirms the view I expressed right back at the beginning when the campaign got going – that voting No was a declaration that Britain was your real country, and Scotland second. After this statement of English superiority within the UK and a rejection of the rights of the other nations to be heard on the defining issue of the day, you still turn your back on the self-respect that independence represents, you are turning your back on Scotland. That is, you are expressly rejecting a Scotland that can breathe as a nation not just an administrative sub-region, one that can exercise its own version of democracy and reflect the wishes of its people. Frankly, it’s getting to the stage that submitting to this is pretty much admitting that Scotland isn’t a country at all.

Time to take a look at yourself. Look at your country and what’s being done to it. Consider your children’s future in a place where the government says you don’t matter…outside the world’s biggest market and the most integrated fusion of westernised democracies. That is, if Scotland still means anything to you. Burns Night would be a good time to start.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly, this Edinburgh scunnered Scot believes that Scotland freely gave up its own free will with that vote – the NAE CHANCE voters cling to our Colonial Masters, and I hope they are all happy with that as once again, the United Kingdom of London is only ever interested in The United Kingdom of London – wid bring a tear tae a gless ee 🙁

    The chance to make us the envy of the World has now been lost in my lifetime 🙁

  2. Yes, previous contributor Graeme and Derek too are pretty scunnered but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the majority of Scots waver over the issue of independence and our aim must not to rant and criticise but to persuade and win over so that next time the 45% is a resounding 60%. We think of the No voters as a bit naive and easily led by the unionists but many are just less interested in politics, less analytical and more trusting. We’ll win them over next time by persistent reasoning – inclusiveness not rigid partisanship is truly the only way.

    But before I go completely evangelical, I need a wee rant too. The only times when I get a bit angry and irritatated by no voters is when they share their ‘Epiphany’ moment when they realised that they were wrong to vote No. Derek touched on it when he talked about Cameron and EVEl. Many people realised right there and then, less than 12 hours after the polls had closed in Sept ’14. Could they not just have had that light bulb moment about 24 hours earlier?

    Similarly the EU referendum resulted in a host of articles by Scots saying they now realised that they should indeed have voted in a different direction in the independence referendum. Never a hint of apology. It is as though they were sensible to vote No for Indyref but right to change course now. You just have to bite your tongue when the anger rises and be grateful for their belated conversion.

    The real problem is that our opponents, as well as us, are more entrenched, more practised in their arguments than they were before Indyref1. So this time round we have to be readier – currency, EU, borders tariffs – you name it, really all aspects of the case for independence. We can’t be caught as unprepared as we were first time round over certain issues. Let’s ensure that we get more light bulb moments before the nest Indyref. No post Indyref blues over issues that we got right but couldn’t persuade the other side until it was too late. A lot of work lies ahead. As the song says: don’t look back in anger.

  3. “a Scottish resident and, collectively as a nation”

    It might be useful to consider who exactly No voting “Scottish residents” are because many residents of our nation are not in fact Scots (and do not consider themselves Scots according to census/surveys), and may not be that interested in Scottish nationhood, quite the opposite in fact, raising questions about the likelihood of ‘our people’ acting ‘collectively as a nation’. For example, outdated (10 year old) census data suggested that 10% of people in Scotland come from rest UK. Voting intention surveys suggested the majority of them (80%+) were No voters, far higher than the ‘Scottish’ figure. Over the last decade and more, inward migration to Scotland from rUK has been rising year on year as people are attracted here through better social policies, higher spend per capita on health, education, transport etc, as well as lower house prices, attractive place to retire, professional job opportunities etc. Thus, there is a distinct possibility now that perhaps up to 20% of the population of Scotland comes from rUK. Their propensity to vote is also high. And as we know from voter intention surveys, to them “Britain (is) your real country, and Scotland second”. They might also fear losing any Scottish ‘citizenship’ in the event of independence. Culturally it is also in their nature to ‘Vote Britain’, as the playright and author Alan Bissett might say. Ultimately, if people coming from rUK and now resident in Scotland account for 20% of the population, as they may well do today, this implies that they will also account for a third or close to half of all No voters (perhaps 35-40%). This therefore brings to the fore the argument that David Cameron made on Brexit and that many (i.e. most?) other states have made (e.g. Luxembourg, etc) that only people born in and living in a country should be permitted to vote on constitutional matters relating to that country. If the Scottish Government were to put that requirement in their Referendum Bill, Scotland would have a far, far greater chance of securing independence.

  4. Alf., I have been bloging on here and different sites For months now saying that only those who are born and live in Scotland should be allowed to vote on the future of their country the fact is all the Incomers it is not!their country and they should have no say in what future Scotland should have I live in England and if England were to vote on independence I would not vote whether I could or not,because I believe only the English people have the right to decide what is best for their country I would also ban all postal voting it is wide open to fraud unless these two things are brought into force we will never win a referendum or our freedom because as usual to many outsiders will decide our future by the way in the past I only had one fellow blogger supporting me and he was blogging from Canada

  5. It is quite ehtically dangerous and pratically almost impossible to advocate that only those born and living in scotland should vote.
    1/ There are plenty of older voters born in Scotland who voted no and will vote no again because that are afraid, perhaps in greater numbers thanks to Brexit, becuase of fer about financial insecurity. Craig Dalziell at the SIC talked about 10% of people from the rUK livng in Scotland, not 20%.
    2/ Those Scot born in Scotland but living in rUK might be well miffed too.
    3/ How do you propose to organise the vote? Show your birth certificate before voting?
    4/ The FM has stressed that it is where you live that is important, not where you come from. It is an inclusive position that does Scotland proud, and gets away from accusation of narrow nationalism à la Le Pen or Trump.
    5/ There are 3% of EU nationals and 4% of people brn outside Europe in Scotland. It would be wrong to exclude those people. A lot of EU nationals are now looking towards an independent Scotland to save them from hassle from May’s xenophobic policies. Like me.
    6/ Some of these rUK emigrants to Scotland may well be professionals-well-educated-middle-class folks who, by and large, are proEU so they may well on balance go for a Yes vote.

    We either are an inclusive society or we’re not. I have lived here for 40 years, pay taxes and now receive my state and occupational pensions, and in return I volunteer, became a Community Councillor, campaigned for Independence and the SNP. It would be terrible if I could not vote. Think about it.

    • “It is quite ehtically dangerous and pratically almost impossible to advocate that only those born and living in scotland should vote.”

      This did not seem to be a problem for the UK Government in regard to the Brexit vote which excluded from voting those not born in the UK yet living here? Neither does it seem to be an issue for other states organising votes on constitutional matters in a similar way. Why should Scotland be any different?

      • Let’s not highlight Brexit as model of best practice.

        Part of the problem is that there is no definition of a Scottish citizen, only a British citizen. So it is not possible to identify Scottish people from UK people in the Scottish electorate.

        I do think that residence is a reasonable criteria, and maybe that was abused an unquantified bit in the indy ref by second home owners and proxy votes. But won’t the new income tax powers give us the capacity to fix that? If you are identified as paying tax in Scotland, you get to vote in Scotland. Seems fair to me.

        • A few red herrings there. Legally removing a third of ‘natural’ No voters is a gift horse. The reality now is that Scotland is facing Hard Brexit or Hard Indy. The time for respect seems past; Perfidious disna dae respekt onywey, an nivver haes.

    • I agree. Take out some of the non native Scots and we might be left with a majority of sash wearing marchers who would vote No. Many of the hardest campaigners for Yes in my area were not Scots born and most of the No voters I met were born here. Unfortunately years of conditioning have led many native Scots to believe that they really aren’t “good enough” to go it alone. That conditioning runs deep and is enforced daily by MSM. It’s a hard one to overcome. “Incomers” are often here because they want a better life for themselves. In addition, I don’t believe in excluding people who work and pay their taxes here. I’m horrified that some people are excluded from General Elections in the UK while tax dodging ex pats can have a say in how things are run – when, apart from their pensions, it doesn’t really affect them.

  6. What exactly has and does the UK offer Scotland. The track record over the last 50 years or more shows mainly economic incompetence as exemplified by the squandering of the revenues from North Sea oil and Privatisation. With the NHS being the most likely next victim of the latter, after wasting the wealth now they want to do the same with their health. If anyone has any doubt that the UK has been grossly and relentlessly mismanaged, for all but the very wealthy, then consider what is happening right now with yet another massive UK snafu, namely Brexit.

    This is from todays National – ‘Within hours it becomes clear that the (UK) party of government did not have the merest idea of what to do next. It subsequently emerges that the leaders of the Leave side did not believe much of what they were telling people. Furthermore, they were simply using the campaign to gain leverage in the Conservative Party and to unseat Cameron.

    Next, they thought they could stay in the single market but restrict free movement of people. Now they think they can withdraw from the world’s most successful trading bloc and have Britain make its own deals throughout the world. And, in by no means the final humiliation, the highest judges in the land effectively command them to consult Parliament. This is 21st-century England, a once-proud country now being run by a cabal of rank, grasping, incompetent Nationwide League third-raters and dancing to the tune of a pantomime clown in a covert coat. Where does that leave Scotland, which permits these characters to run the country even when it has become clear they are utterly incompetent?’

    Even now, instead of focusing on the real world, the UK government mainly just goes on about Nuclear Weapons and being a Global Leader in Trade, as if it was still an imperial power. The UK became a second rate place after WW2 and it has not, nor even tried, to adapt to the modern world. So here we are today in UK cuckoo land. Do people think that somehow all the muddling along by the UK is going to change for the better sometime in the future? I wonder what odds the bookies would give on that happening. Apparently the Titanic was given several warnings from other ships that there were large icebergs in the area. It seems that the only difference between the Titanic and the UK is the speed at which disaster strikes. Given all the cold hard evidence from the past 50 years, who in their right mind would want to stay aboard the UK?

    If you want to compare the UK’s factual economic or social track record with say Germany, Denmark, Sweden or the Netherlands, have a look at this site – http://www.theglobaleconomy.com/compare-countries/

    Only add Norway to the list if you want to risk your blood pressure going through the roof.

  7. I still say only people who were. born and live in Scotland should have a vote in the future of their country what fair minded person would object to that? It does not matter how long you have lived here you are not Scottish so Scotland is not your country to decide its future

    • Thank you. I am Scottish. My parents are Scottish and born in Scotland. I was unfortunately born in England, a country we left when I was two. Does this imply that I have no interest in the fate of Scotland and that it is all UK and England for me?

    • I get why some people feel like this, but I agree with a number of the comments above about how questionable it is ethically and practically. First of all, I know a fair number of immigrants from Europe, the Americas and even quite a few English folk who are all avid Yes voters from 2014. While they may not have been voting with the majority of their “tribe,” I think it could be just as damaging to us this time as it might have been helpful last time to exclude them. A big part of this campaign is going to be about being European and outward looking. EU citizens living in Scotland are not going to be so keen to stick with England when their own futures may be compromised. And what sense does it make to have a vote on how we differentiate ourselves from a narrow, insular, arrogant, xenophobic rUK only to follow their narrow, nationalistic, insular, xenophobic model for our own democracy? We’re better than that, and I think a lot of people would think twice about voting Yes again if they thought that iScotland was only going to replicate some of England’s deepest problems.

      Having said all that, I’m pretty convinced that there has to be an actual negative pitch made on the state of the UK-England. Do we want to be run by a UKIP proxy government? Do we think either the Tories or Labour are credible as protectors of Scotland’s interests? We have to point out how much money Scotland spends on the Civil Service which is a magnet for London. Craig Dalzell has done some work on this in his CW paper on the notional Scottish deficit, but my own calculations are that something like 30,000 new jobs would be created in Scotland purely through establishing our own government departments. My own aunt had to move south in the ’70s because there were literally NO promoted posts in her department anywhere in Scotland. I think explaining how the BBC spends almost £100m per year on English football but only £4m on ALL Scottish sport (that is to say, less than half of our population share of JUST the football money.) That’s a more powerful (and less contentious) argument to make about the BBC’s problems than complaining about Andrew Neil’s sneering contempt when he’s corrected on a fact or not enough SNP members on Question Time. Both of those things are important and should be challenged on principle, but they’re useless as slogans. Straight facts about how much money goes from Scotland to England and how much our economy and culture suffer directly from being yoked to a much larger country with such a dominant capital are more effective, understandable and memorable. We’ll get tagged as anti-English and we’ll be told Doctor Who gets made in Wales and we’re just churning up grievances, but we get told that anyway. At least when we talk about solid facts, our comeback is simple: “prove it.” The UK DOES NOT work for Scotland – economically, culturally or politically. If they want to make a “positive case for the Union,” they need to be made to refute facts, not make vague references to “pooling and sharing” and “punching above our weight.”

      • Luxembourg, Brexit etc appear to reflect the global norm; it is Scotland that is out of sync, naïve even.

  8. In sum Dereck, Scotland is being run as a colony, 50% of Scots know it and care.passionately about it.

    50 % of Scots don’t know, don’t care or do know, but don’t care.

    The press and state broadcaster keep people misinformed and lied to.

    Yesterday’s portrayal of this uk betrayal y the media was presented as a personal set back to Nicola Sturgeon and yes she’s harping on about a second referendum when we are all referendumed out – allow her!

    Meanwhile we have the opposition at Holyrood, red and lie tory twins, acting as partners.

    This union thar some cherish, is vile, debases Scots and makes us look like fools in the eyes of the rest of he world!

  9. Mmmm. This place is mental. I unfortunately came onto this site to read pure snp propaganda. We could argue all day about facts from either side, but your dream of independence will never be realized.

    The ‘yes voters’ had everything going for them the first time but still could not do it and no amount of
    ‘tweaking’ with the way you vote will ever change that fact. All the stars were aligned 1st time but i’m sure the important people in westminster won’t allow it this time. Salmond chose the date, the question, in the middle of the commonwealth games for patriotic spirit and it still was not achieved.

    Proud scot and brit. (are you happy i said scot 1st?)

    • Proud idiot and brit – congratulations!

      Your day has come, you know it, the nasty side of your culture is being exposed across a continent and beyond, you looking isolationist, absurd and full of loathing for others!

      Re. Commonwealth games, yeah right?

      Think about entering into a second decade of austerity under alien tory rule, no labour party and our people under constant attack from the british media.

      In the words of a here today and gone today labour politician – bring it on, we start Even Stevens this time round, not 20 points behind!

      Have you no sense of shame or does your british nationalism mask reality completely?

      Keeping singing god save our unelected leader and taking the pills!

      If you take your pills you may have a lucid period where you can reflect on Scotland’s direction of travel and what would you do in an ndependent Scotland?.

      • Calum, some people add 2 + 2 and get 5, billy boy is but one.

        billy hasn’t the capacity to look at what westminster with respect to Scotland and analyse the democratic gap that people in Scotland vote one way and get the exact opposite government to the way they voted for. He sees no problem whatsoever.

        billy sees nothing wrong with this, but he becomes deeply frustrated when he sees people trying to right this wrong.

        In three or so years time, when you are entering France or Italy through the fast track EU citizens gate, have a causal glance at the non EU citizens gate, you’ll probably see billy in a long long queue clutching his precious English royal family passport.

        You can be excused for having a wee smile to yourself!

  10. the claim of right to give the people of Scotland the sole right to decide upon to the format of self government they want.
    the united kingdom Westminster government does not have reserved right or rights to scotland,s constitution and never ever had.

  11. O / T. The child health scare is based on a report by the RCPHP. … From the reports site. http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/state-of-child-health/mortality
    Mortality rates for the only age group that allows a direct comparison between England and Scotland ie. the one to nine group In 2014 England had 761 mortalities, Scotland had 49. ….. By proportion if Scotland had the same mortality rate as England we would have seen approximately 64 deaths.

    • Would it not be so nice to live in a country when you saw today’s news you would be concerned and take it at face value and demand politicians did something about it!

      Rather than living in a country where the press and state broadcaster will stoop to no low or falsehood to destroy the ruling party!

      Independence can not come soon enough!

  12. The hope is that people will see all this for themselves but there are so many who are not aware of shite until it is coming through their front door.

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