Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A game of cards for 2012; the Union’s hand.

A new year is here, Hogmanay once again, and when the dust settles on the festivities perhaps it’s time to remember just how far Scotland has come in the last year as strategies are planned for the path to the referendum.

A referendum that was politically impossible just 12 short months ago, indeed until May 5th 2011 the Unionists consistently acted as a single party to block Scots aspirations. May 5th was when the Scots themselves saw and acted upon the need to remove that impediment to democracy.

With part of Scotland’s democratic deficit removed the next big issue faced by all who wish to see an independent Scotland once again, is structuring the independence debate.

2012 must be the year that the SNP and its supporters take charge of that issue or face the possibility, perhaps the probability, of a loss in the referendum.

Alex Salmond and his team must find a way to take charge of framing the debate.

The polls have shown us that words are powerful; simply the structure and content of the question in the referendum can produce as much as 20 point variation in the outcome. No team should ever be so foolish as to gift their opponents a 20% advantage.

The Union is fundamentally aware of this power of phraseology, it is Westminster’s ace in hand, and that legislature has been allowed to play it almost unchallenged. That must stop.

For the potential of a cohesive Scottish nation walking forward in a liberated and more truly democratic state, such a potential for propaganda and rhetoric in the hands of the opposition is quite literally allowing them the Ace of Spades.

Absent any presently unforeseeable circumstance, it is London’s only remaining ace unless another were to be magic’d up by such an event as an opportune second Falkland’s war at just the right time. Even such a colonialist style conflict could backfire in remarkable fashion in present day Scotland.

2012 must mark the year that we in Scotland counter certain words, for they have undeniable power. Ideally, we need a single word to refute all the negative connotations of Unionist propaganda. It’s time to get the last Union ace out of their hand.

A single easily repeatable word is required to counter Unionist cries of separation, break up, divorce, end, and the host of others that are deployed so effectively against humanity’s most basic aspirations in Scotland, that of free choice and true democracy.

When that word is found we must use it consistently, we must bury it into the psyche of our fellow Scots. Our countrymen and women must understand to the core of their beings that they are not stepping into the abyss but bringing back something that worked here for centuries and is enjoyed by countless other millions the world over.

RESTORATION could well be that word. It might just trump the Union ace; it works in almost every situation, there are no known negatives and it’s simply understood. Even Westminster argues for restoration – one word that is a unionist’s cleft stick.

The next strongest card that can be played in 2012 by the Union is the king. In the present UK the king is effectively the prime minister. That king is toxic to the Union’s case in 2012 and will remain so through to the referendum. The Union has no choice but to play its major face card or throw it out. The Union has a no-win situation in its king.

Scotland having more pandas than Tory MP’s leaves David Cameron in a position one might generously describe as “democratic deficit”. He is responsible for less than 2% of our elected MP’s.

The UK Prime Minister’s party is as welcome to most Scots as a nasty sweat rash.

In spite of this, the PM must head up the opposition to the referendum or he tacitly accepts defeat no matter the poll result.

If the PM turns over the reins of the no campaign to another he’s effectively saying the top minister of the United Kingdom shouldn’t worry about defending it – that the Union is fundamentally indefensible by the UK’s top elected official.

That puts David Cameron into one of two camps, he’s a coward and won’t fight, or he’s a realist and can’t fight. He acknowledges there is only a disunited Kingdom where he holds no fundamental democratic right of the Scots people to impose any policy.

Effectively, from the view of the referendum the Union king is part of a busted flush.

A queen is a different matter; Elizabeth II is a queen card in the union hand. She played a prominent part in the 1970’s, arguing consistently and strongly against Scotland’s voice in a referendum, a poll the Union still lost.

Elizabeth is no longer the force for Union she was decades ago. Scotland has moved on since then. Alex Salmond also largely stripped the Union of the ability to play its queen when he told her publically, in Scotland, that she would still be “Scotland’s Queen”. The Union queen was politely, but effectively removed from the deck on that day.

As we move down the pack we encounter problems, for who in the Union camp could represent the Jack. There is no potent individual that springs immediately to mind. There’s not even a political party. There is only a vacuum in Westminster.

However, there is an organization: the BBC. The BBC is apparently tasked to be the Union Jack, with the responsibility of playing the ace card to its best advantage. The BBC operates largely at the direction of its culture as defined by its name, and under the tacit puppeteering of the London establishment.

Under the direction of its culture and its master’s voice, its impact is as insidious as it is relentless. Without the one eyed Jack tucked amongst the spades the Union’s debilitating cause would have died many years ago.

This Union Jack is a card losing its potency with time, but without a single consistent useable ace word to neutralize it, it may not lose its impact quite quickly enough.

The Internet, social networking and independent news, radio and television are diluting its effectiveness. As 2012 opens this Union Jack remains very much the elephant in the corner of the room of real Scottish democratic aspirations.

With truly Scots news portrayed from a Scots first aspect, the referendum would be a 90/10 shoe in.

The rest of the cards in the Union suit are varied and specifically unidentifiable.

The mainstream media in Scotland may have been a ten, but that’s changing. The media have appeared more democratically open in recent months. They have not been doing this from any altruistic sense of supporting fundamental democracy, more from an apparent stance of attempted self preservation due to falling audience or circulation numbers. What is relevant is that the change is happening now, two or three years before the referendum.

If this media realignment continues, BBC excepted, then a semblance of balanced argument might just be possible in the final run up to the constitutional poll. If this continues we will certainly be closer to 90/10 than fighting for 51/49 in favour.

So the ten might be worth a three or four in a few years, and there’s no visible nine to move up in the Union suit. The nine might have once been a sense of “Britishness”.

Polls now show most in the individual nations don’t give a hoot for “Britishness” and a large majority in Scotland would salute the concept with a single digit for just a tenner a week. “Britishness” is effectively a non starter at the poll – and the starting gun is still to be fired.

With the numbered cards being largely unidentifiable and interchangeable, the only remaining question lies around the Union’s Joker. Presently there’s three chief candidates all trying to lord it over the position.

Messer’s Forsythe, Foulkes and Wallace, although it’s most likely to be a presently unlooked for dark horse that will get the position. The reasoning being: these are three lords who seem most adept at blowing off their own feet, and jesters that can’t caper are of little use to any king.

Entering 2012, it would therefore appear that the Union campaign is bereft of even a useable fool.

The Union party leaders in Scotland simply don’t even make it into the pack. Ruth Davidson is acknowledged as both a Tory and David Cameron’s favourite, doubly toxic to the voters and without credible experience in parliament. At least her message will be consistent – London first. Expect that message to get as much traction with the Scots electorate as a well greased ferret on a length of elastic.

Johann Lamont lost the popular vote of her party members, was “elected” by undemocratic means, has therefore no popular mandate and her replacement is already being discussed in London. Every appearance has it that Ms. Lamont and her new deputy’s role should have been reversed, and would have been if it was possible by Labour UK.

Ms. Lamont has been described as by others Iain Gray after a charisma extraction. With a political compass now decidedly to right of center, she leads a party as out of touch with its roots as a month old bleach job.

To give Willie Rennie credit, he almost made the jester card. After all his apparent policy spins and contortions in so many areas, he should be horizontal. Sadly, fool of the pack is a lofty aspiration for a person whose camp followers can fit into a London taxi, but then London taxis do belong in London.

The Unionist backed Scotland bill now resembles the Titanic three hours after she hit the iceberg. Following Holyrood’s rejection, the House of Lords and its ongoing amendments leaves us with the appearance they’re still yelling for more deckchairs as everybody else is paddling away in lifeboats.

That rejection was strictly along Union / Scots lines. This proved conclusively that if the SNP had no overall majority, the Union cabal would prevail. It was not a good bill for Scotland.

On the Scots independence side the Nationalists appear to be holding the other three aces of financial viability, energy resources and leadership. When it comes to face cards the story simply continues as Holyrood maintains the sense it’s got a viable, credible and talented governmental team working for Scotland’s best interest with a far higher degree of integrity than Westminster has ever credibly managed.

In fact, Scots ministers give the impression they’re doing it deliberately, and not just on some fools errand.


  1. Nice analytical model Hazel.

    Their negotiation tactics were, I think, revealed by the way the Treasury played the 3 Celtic nations on the Barnet consequentials for the Olympic taxes.

    Their position was just No, No and No.

    As HM Treasury is the political power behind the throne, it looks as though they are rehearsing their strategy and tactics.

    I note that Mickey Moore has disappeared off the TV and dead tree press after his train wreck, actually several, of an interview on Newsnicht in which he looked decided tired and emotional. I suspect he realises what is going on and has real problem with internalising this and maintaining his political personna.

    He is political dead meat and he knows it. He will go down in history as the last of the breed; Imperial Viceroy of the colony of Scotlandshire.

    In the end Hazel the one and only way the unionist side can play this card game is to load the deck.

    We must be on our guard

  2. The converse of Independence is Dependence, so why not call the unionists the parties of dependence?

    The reason the SNP have been a bit relaxed on this so far is that they haven't actually had to do anything! The unionists have been scrambling around, bumping into each other and making total twits of themselves, and all Salmond & co have needed to do is observe from an amused distance. When push comes to shove, you can be sure that the SNP push will overwhelm the unionist shove.