Friday, 31 August 2012

Can a Nation suffer from Stockholm syndrome.

The Question is this:

Are the Scottish proponents of continued Union with England purely mercenary or simply suffering from a Stockholm’s type delusion – is there another possibility?

Before investigating the concept of a large section of our populace suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, it is necessary to examine the background of the nation or nations involved.

Can it be so simple to apply Stockholm’s to our nation that it doesn’t even need, as in my case, either a psychology degree or convoluted logic to demonstrate how simply the facts fit the case.

Our present Union construct of four quasi-devolved nations, evolving since the legal construction of the UK in 1926 is simply an ongoing dialogue that’s principally between the Scots and English, Holyrood and Westminster. Key to this is in understanding that for a captive to exist there has to be a captor. If the traditionally disseminated Union story of voluntary assimilation by both nations into one government, of a benign rescue by London of a debt burdened near bankrupt Edinburgh is factual there can be no case for Stockholm’s.

The background

A look at the history behind the creation of this “Gee-Bee” perception and the psychology that maintains it proves fascinating.

Prior to our present quasi-devolved state construct of four nations there is the older Union by Treaty of two sovereign nations, that of England and Scotland from 1707.

That the Scots never wanted that treaty is self evident to any student of history. Anyone doubting this fact needs only to examine the facts. In Scotland it was signed in secret, with the supporters fearing for their lives. Daniel Defoe, King William’s paymaster and agent of subterfuge within Scotland in the lead up to the Treaty of Union also recorded in his journals that more than 9 in 10 Scots were against the Acts.

It is well documented that Darien was a failure, leaving many nobles near bankruptcy. Not so well acclaimed is the historical fact that it was English and Spanish collusion that were substantial drivers in the failure. Darien’s demise was engineered in London.

With the demise of Darien many Scots in opposition to Union perished, others of the ruling class were near destitute, and although the nation itself remained debt free and relatively wealthy, it was this ruling class which sold their votes to avoid penury.

Effectively we have a captive / captured situation.

There have been many attempts by the Scots to dissolve the Union that prove this, from rioting at inception to a parliamentary act some five years after, two open rebellions and other home rule acts, petitions and finally devolution.

On the oppressive side there have been “the clearances”, “the banning of name and dress” proscription of weapon, and educational acts prohibiting use of our native language. In all it leads to a picture of what can only be accurately described as cultural genocide.

There are examples in living memory, from the simple act of repression created by ignoring the 1952 National Covenant to overturning the 1979 referendum by invention and insertion of a “one time” constitutional hurdle. In the devolution settlement of the 1990’s Scots voted for a “Parliament”, Westminster then “granted” an “executive”.

Having set the background stage it is opportune to see if the current proponents of Union with England, claiming Scotland’s best interests as dear to the heart, still act simply from personal self interest as their forebears did, or are principally victims of the Stockholm syndrome.

On the surface at least it is apparent that those projecting vacuous or unsubstantiated reasons for Scotland remaining in this present union “stronger together” “Britishness is a state of mind” have no apparently hard credible arguments, but almost without exception these individuals or organisations have benefitted substantially from espousing that view. Arguably for them the captor has been kind; they have been elevated above their peers.

Stockholm or personal profit is for the reader to decide – for without a credible third argument appearing, it would appear to be an either/or situation.

No other viable explanation appears to exist, as Annabelle Goldie, ex leader of the Conservative party in Scotland publically confirmed to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron on the weekend of October 1st 2011, “Scotland is not subsidized, the UK would be poorer without Scotland”. The Union proponents have still failed to give Scots a hard and fast third option, they still, after three centuries and counting, have not given the average Scot a solid Union benefit.

Ms. Goldie herself here clearly states “Scotland would be richer” outside the Union, simple interpretation of her statement must mean that Scotland is poorer within the Union. Ms. Goldie therefore supports poverty to a greater degree than is required for her nation, asking why she and those like her take this position is certainly legitimate.

What is Stockholm’s Syndrome?

An accepted definition of the Stockholm syndrome: An extraordinary phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to their captor.

Named for an episode that occurred in Stockholm in August, 1973 when an armed Swedish robber took some bank workers captive, held them for six days and stole their hearts. The Stockholm syndrome is not limited to Swedes.

Patty Hearst, heir to the publishing fortune, was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She later joined the SLA and participated in a bank robbery with them.

More recently, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a couple for 9 months. Elizabeth repeatedly had the chance to run away or ask for help but did not. It is now generally believed that she had the Stockholm syndrome, in which she formed emotional bonds with her captors.

Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack or perceived lowering of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.

The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome. It also appears more prevalent among women. This therefore begs the question, “is this why Scots women consistently lag behind Scots men in polling for a Yes vote?”.

While there is still disagreement as to what factors precisely characterize incidents that contribute to the development of Stockholm syndrome, research suggests that hostages may exhibit the condition in situations where the following four factors are present:

· They feature captors who do not overtly physically abuse the victim.

· There is a long duration before resolution.

· There is continued contact between the perpetrator and hostage.

· There is a high level of emotion involved.

How it can apply in the case of Scots supporting Union.

Firstly hostages who develop Stockholm syndrome often view the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it. In this sense, the captor becomes the person in control of the captive’s basic needs for survival and the victim’s life itself.

It is relatively simple to place this into context, with Westminster controlling all taxes, welfare, pensions and much of criminal and social justice systems.

Secondly the hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent.

Following three centuries of death, deprivation, clearances, execution, proscription and exile, dating from a time well prior to the signature of the Treaty Of Union through the present Scots now live in a reasonably just society, arguably more so than in England.

One should consider however that in the 20th century alone there was more than one occasion when censorship was rife and directed by London. This included the reported issuance of provisional orders for English armour to take to the streets in 1919 and in the 1960’s [Glasgow] through the ’74 gagging of McCrone. There were innumerable instances of atrocity that went unreported during the fall of empire to maintain the appearance of “benevolence” to the dispossession of the Diego Garcia inhabitants.

The condition of censorship continues in the present decade as we escape illegal wars and in the last week alone the attempts at suppressing the antics of “Prince Harry” are just a recent example. Corruption is endemic in the state, it’s rarely reported as such, and it’s only a miniscule percentage of offenders that is ever held to account. Even the state needs examples on occasion.

For three centuries and more, the people of Scotland have now largely obtained their information through Anglo centered, London based media, where censorship is rife, often simply by omission, and through the 20th century has been controlled, in disproportionate fashion by the BBC, with the greater portion of funds provided by the nation of Scotland directed towards production facilities in and around the English Capitol.

This was forcibly underlined during the recent Scotland Act, 1998, whereby the Media and broadcasting was specifically noted as a power reserved to the Westminster Parliament. At the Olympics we just witnessed the obliteration of anything with the potential to demonstrate to the world, during Westminster’s showcase, that there might actually be a nation called Scotland.

The message delivered through these media over decades, often subliminally, is that the Scots are now a race of “Subsidy Junkies”. Scots are also informed that they could not survive as an independent nation (while the UK attempts to simultaneously convince nations larger and smaller, from the BVI to India that they CAN survive), and that the voice of Scotland would be mediocre on the international stage. It omits to point out that within the Union presentation on the world stage the voice of Scotland does not exist.

Scots are also informed that as a member of the Union the international community views them with respect and dignity, which is obviously incorrect as demonstrated by such internal stories printed by the often perceived Scots sycophantic press. Everything is filtered through Westminster.

The Scots world view has therefore spent almost the entire time of Union being shaped by London. Scots see the world largely through London’s selective lens; even the weather maps on BBC television contain subtle minimizing psychology.

Thirdly, the hostage taker threatens to kill the victim and gives the perception of having the capability to do so. The captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face murder.

Clearly the attempt, almost successfully, was made to destroy an independent national identity and erase that culture from amongst the Brotherhood of Nations. Through encouragement of divisions along ethnic/religious divides, clearances, and two unsuccessful risings, the realm of Scotland was to be relegated to simply “North Britain” throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and much of the twentieth century’s.

It is in fact not uncommon to still see the phrase “North Britain” used in print, video and other media post 2010. That it was largely successful on the international stage is evidenced by the fact that to the world community at large, England and Britain are interchangeable phrases for the same identity. Scotland is not perceived as a nation in its own right by much of our world.

Our voice is not “stronger within”, it is decidedly gagged.

The dominant faction of the Union (England) began apparent moderation of these policies as the twentieth century wore on. It is arguable the moderation took place after Westminster perceived the case as “won beyond redemption”. When Scots returned a Tory majority vote in the 1950’s that opinion was likely catalyzed.

The centuries of abuse also arguably left the most solid underlying impression in the national identity of the common Scot that both the ability and the will were present on England’s part for an attempt at utter extinction of the national Scots identity should it become a necessity. Endurance and compliance could, in large part, prevent this. Even in today’s Olympics, when Scots athletes proudly display the Saltire it is, for the most part, simply edited out – like the attempt upon Scotland herself from history through Westminster’s control of broadcasting.

With a referendum approaching the overriding theme from the Union is negativity. Scots have heard all the doom cries, possibly more than could have been expected. Everything from expulsion from Europe to bombing our airports, Scots have been promised fiscal and literal death. Perhaps NATO would be a good idea to give us allies and forestall English aggression – the overtone is unmistakable.

Lastly, the captive sees the perpetrator as showing some degree of kindness. Kindness serves as the cornerstone of Stockholm syndrome; the condition will not develop unless the captor exhibits it in some form toward the hostage. However, captives often misinterpret a lack of abuse as kindness and may develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence. If the captor is purely evil and abusive, the hostage will respond with hatred. But, if perpetrators show some kindness, victims will submerge the anger they feel in response to the terror and concentrate on the captors’ “good side” to protect themselves.

The captive nation (Scotland), from the apparent perspective of a mass of individuals within the nation could be said in many/most cases to observe the union as “Kindly”.

This is because it ensures in the present day and age that a roof is still available, as is nourishment. What appears more difficult for these individuals to understand is that these same mechanisms would in almost all scenarios still exist without the union, perhaps in greater plenty and with greater security.

The Union and its proponents self edit the atrocities, the abuses and the practiced cultural genocide, highlighting instead warm and fuzzy “better together” images, without ever explaining exactly how we are better together.

It remains to be seen what the outcome of austerity will ultimately be with respect to the Union as Scots witness the dismantling of the socially beneficial aspects of the United Kingdom. It may alter the “kindly” perception enough to create a substantial difference.

These scenarios are apparently subconsciously discounted by media and politicians alike, with phrases such as “Scotland’s wishes to be considered” (a statement by Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg with regards to Scots being forced to change the date of their national elections by Westminster).

The incredible issue here is that these statements can be portrayed as acts of benevolent kindness rather than an inalienable right in a democratic society! Somehow rather than generate a universal national anger, these comments instead are apparently seen by many less astute Scots with a type of “we’re being cared for” perspective.


When only 3% of Scots residents view themselves as “British” foremost, it seems appropriate to enquire how this Union survives. Furthermore, what, if any, are the driving factors for its survival outwith the probability of the almost universally unhealthily decried Stockholm Syndrome or England’s economic need.

Throughout the last three hundred years there have been a great many notable cases which reflect the fact many of us, past and present, arguably, very strongly arguably, suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. There are very few equally notable exceptions.

In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where they have been stripped of nearly all forms of independence as well as their basic needs for survival, and the captor has effectively gained control of the victim’s life.

Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, or in our case natural sovereign powers, or remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence.

In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a 'mother' figure protecting the 'child' from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons. The issue with Stockholm’s is that it is insidious; it is invisible to the sufferer.

We can only conclude that, as a nation, it is past time for Scotland to take her position of responsibility in the global community. It is time for individual contribution, for individual recognition. It is time to cease being Scots in failure and “Brits” when triumphant. It is time to stand proudly once again.

This is where we stand today, but with a referendum due in 2014, and those who would vote “No” appearing to opt for decades more privatisation, austerity, asset stripping and social policy decimation is there any other ready explanation than that posed above?

For those who would vote “No” in the referendum, knowing that by common consensus they will be poorer if they do, they should ask themselves why they would deny their own Sovereignty, why they would further impoverish themselves and their children.

The definition of foolhardiness has been said to be repeating the action and expecting a different outcome. As the Union has undeniably failed most Scots, it is amongst the most unequal nations on earth. Individuals who would vote “No” must surely question their choice.

Therapy anyone?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Osborne is playing Cameron’s long game for the Union.

Tax revenues are down says the treasury; it’s been all over the news recently. Part of the blame we’re told lies with Scotland’s Oil industry, revenues are alleged to be plummeting. We’re informed it’s just a foretaste of what’s to come.

Every indication is that this current scenario is one with its roots firmly embedded in Westminster, originating with the budget following the Holyrood GE when a referendum during the life of the current Scots administration became a self evident fact.

Consider the thought process at the treasury; it was the lead up to the last budget.

Whitehall needed income to try to balance the books, at least a little. The red ink was too much of a reminder of that ongoing fiscal incompetence that Westminster has displayed for so many decades, administration after administration.

Long term policy also had to be accounted for; the newly matured elephant in the room was that impending Scottish independence referendum. If the books were full of red ink leading up to it, it’s nothing to what they’ll look like after 2014 if the Scots do what every indicator suggests they should, and vote with their feet to leave. This very obvious red ink might even help the Scots decide to leave.

There were small items that could be tackled, inconsequential things to London’s minions, like the demonisation of the disabled, things which can be used to divert attention from what’s really happening – the destruction of the social fabric of these islands.

Then there’s the big issue which will possibly hasten the realization that the fabric is actually being torn asunder – Scottish independence.

In the eyes of both Westminster’s UK government and the UK’s mainstream national media Scottish independence and Scottish oil revenues are inexorably intertwined – kill one, defuse the other, stifle independence, secure the revenues. It’s all about playing the long game for the money, resources and assets of the Scottish nation.

This tax raid on the oil industry is explained and planned behind closed doors of course. Let’s consider this little scenario with a hypothetical reconstruction of the chat between Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury and David Cameron. In case Danny Alexander is credited by too much intuition through this article [in the opinion of some readers] we should recall the treasury has exceptionally well educated, intelligent and paid analysts at its beck and call.

Danny: Dave, we need a tax raid on Scotland’s oil revenues.

Dave: We need money to balance the books – we’ve got to have income to stop the country falling apart now, and the oil industry won’t like another tax hit.

Danny: But the fields already in production will keep producing – we get the extra money anyway.

Dave: What about future investment, we need these marginal fields and the lot that probably lies in deep water West of Shetland (got the name right – yes?) developed, we need that future income.

Danny: Dave, look, slam the tax in NOW, stifle development, and as older fields go offline the revenues will decrease – we’ve got a home run for the referendum, we just need to tell them “look at your vaunted oil revenues – they’re going south, and fast”.

Dave: But Danny, we need money NOW.

Danny: Dave, we get more until these fields go offline or get mothballed, add that to a lower demand from the global economy and we can expect the North Sea data to look quite dreadful by the time the referendum comes around – but the oil will still be there, the markets will know that, and it should be worth even more.

Dave: rubbing his chin – Keep talking.

Danny: So, we’ve got money in the bank, a nice reserve, potentially vast untapped oil reserves out beyond Rockall, and because we can terrify the damned Scots into voting “No” when they see what’s happening to their vaunted oil revenues, we insure we get it for decades to come.

Dave: Danny, that’s a great idea, get George here and we’ll have him include it in the budget – we’ll paint it as plummeting revenues if it does happen, and just take the revenues if it doesn’t – brilliant Win-Win Danny boy. Teach those darned Scots not to mess with us, eh.

George Osborne enters:

Dave: George, let me explain Danny’s idea - (witterings ensue) - Now, what’s your opinion.

George: after unfolding a towel and using a marker to on it to outline his thoughts – Brilliant Dave, well done Danny, but what if instead of just complaining the Scots tumble to what’s going on, it might be harder to hide than even Coulson’s indiscretions.

Dave: Suggestions George?

Danny [interrupting]: George, let them eat cake got some queen or other over the channel beheaded, we need to behead the independence movement, I mean, without any kind of positive argument that can withstand even basic scrutiny we’ll only deflect attention from our hollow arguments for so long, and it might not be long enough.

George: I know – we’ll tax pies and bridies, they’re another Scots institution anyway, but we’d better call it a pasty tax in case the Scots get the idea they’re being targeted again. Get the papers involved, leak it, and create an uproar over something that’s meaningless. Divert their attention and they’ll forget by the time the revenues plummet and then, we use those against them as well.

Dave: Great, so we bring in money, and if we have to abandon the pie, sorry, pasty tax, well we weren’t exactly expecting it to make a difference anyway – Scotch pies or Scots oil and whisky. It’ll all take a year or so to percolate, and if we need to we can even use it as the reason to change economic policy at the next budget – the oil revenues are a disaster – it’s Brilliant, we save face and the Scots get the blame!

Danny: Even the City will want it, they’ll know with these reserves we’re good for our debts, then my people tell me we can make lots of noise about our credit rating as well, because this independence thingy, it’s not looking good for our credit rating, I mean, I’m hearing rumors we go down a few notches and they, erm, ahem, don’t.

Dave: I’m sold, but keep it quiet, mums the word.

George: I’ll go arrange the leaks, but I think Danny deserves credit for this.

And so it came to pass that Danny Alexander received the public acclimation for the partial destruction and dismantling of an industry in the short term, an industry which in our present age is one of the jewels in Scotland’s industrial crown.

He received that acclimation from his puppet-masters because, for whatever reason, he’s certainly playing Westminster’s long game.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Expand the NHS is the new Tory cry.

They’ve chosen to grab Gordon Brown’s banner and charge forward with it. Except they aren’t looking to expand the services so direly needed within Britain’s borders. The expansion isn’t about finding new staff, doctors, nurses, radiologists or specialists with their relevant networks of support crews so that waiting times can be reduced and maintained at acceptable levels.

What the coalition government, through the Department of Health and UK Trade Investment wants to do is see the NHS “Brand” sold overseas. They want to take on the giants of global health care, most of whom have their bases in the USA’s private medicine system, and convince other nation’s citizens to either come to these shores for treatment, or to visit new specialist NHS centres abroad. The coalition is declaring that the UK should take on the US in healthcare and “beat them at their own game”.

The problem with this is that we’re not in the same game; one is private and one is public, and to get on the same field a lot of new players need to be bought into the team. New players mean expanding budgets, but that’s not on offer, cutbacks and “efficiency savings” are what are in the prospectus.

The fly in this particular ointment is easiest to highlight by looking at waiting times, and what those delays truly mean. If the NHS was operating below capacity across the board there would be no waiting times. It isn’t. Almost every procedure has a waiting time; many of these periods are outside of the UK government’s own guidelines.

The situation that presently exists therefore is simple, there’s a health service that’s overstretched, underfunded and in many cases lacking equipment that doctors or administrators have requested; this equipment varying from the preferred to the essential.

The NHS 2012 version also lacks the ability to properly treat or care for many in our society, not through the fault of its employees, but as a direct result of ongoing Westminster policy that has spanned successive governments. That policy diktat has been driven on two fronts, by lobbyists from the City and conflict of interest internally e.g., Cherie Blair stood to profit from the medical system changes. David Cameron is continuing the privatisation.

Why would any government, supposedly elected to serve its majority franchise appear to act against the best interests of that electorate? The answer here is relatively simple; in Westminster the electorate has a voice every five years or so, the remainder of the time the party’s backers and financiers has the ear of the politicians.

The two may at first appear unrelated with respect to this latest NHS edict, but that’s only until one considers the NHS is a public institution, it’s a service industry which is supported by tax money.

This is the first major nudge in preparing the way for the NHS to undergo full privatisation, because it requires the NHS to acquire skill sets it doesn’t presently possess in any depth at all in order to move it from public to private funding. It will require to have individuals on board who are skilled at processing insurance, billing, customer service reps. The NHS will need salespeople, it will need advertising revenues, and all of these will need departments and budgets.

The only answer that can be logically and consistently extrapolated from the actions of Westminster is that this is not about patient care, for it will not benefit those within these islands unless through adoption of a de-facto two tier NHS, a benefit for the higher net worth individual alone. Essentially it means that with a reducing budget and these extra demands on the system that the funds available for British patent care will be reduced even further than that presently proposed.

The thought process continues in that the only reason to initiate such departments for extra-national requirements would be if there was a need to have such departments on an ongoing basis.

The only need to have such departments on an ongoing basis is to facilitate full privatisation.

Every logical argument states that this is not about patient care, but about providing another eventual revenue source to the City; that one day the NHS will be effectively, fully privatised. Private companies will operate the NHS and they will do so for the good of their shareholders, and one can expect that the good of the investors will normally come before the good of the patient.

When the day comes, and on current evidence it soon will, that the NHS obtains substantial income from private sources then Westminster expenditure will reduce correspondingly.

A reduction in England equates to a reduction in the other nations. The policy will have to be implemented universally, or other programs suffer. This latest suggestion which would be excellent in an organisation operating significantly below capacity instead becomes simply a few more stitches picked from the fabric of Social Britain.

Unfortunately, Westminster just doesn’t seem to give Atos.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Union is pre-ordained to fail.

The question really isn’t if, it’s simply when, as the recent London Olympics so forcibly showed us. Instead of a “feel-good bounce” polling demonstrated some 8% of Scots as registering more antipathy towards the Union.

The discussion most mainstream media doesn’t want to enter is that the demise of the Union is inbuilt; it has been since its inception, mainly because it’s not been guided in similar form to that of Europe in our present day. If the Union of Britain had followed a similar path to the Union of Europe it might have had a chance.

In the Union of Europe the Greeks, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish, Italians and others are willing to undergo austerity, near decimation and yet still remain loyal to that Union – essentially, en mass, the peoples don’t want to leave.

In the UK it’s a different story. Unlike the European Union, our people never had a choice. There was little of democracy and much of subterfuge, betrayal and shady dealing that brought about the 1707 Union.

In Europe there was a Union engineered by popular acclimation and democratic consent, in Scotland it was thrust upon the constituent peoples through threat of force, of war and in the wake of planned economic devastation by our larger partner.

In Europe each nation is celebrated in small ways, ways that are meaningful to the individual franchises at large. This celebration takes many forms from the country of origin with nationality being principle on passports to national differentiation on number plates. It allows each nation to compete, to excel and to express under a pan European banner. This is potentially its biggest asset.

Europe tells its people “remember who you are, be proud of where you came from, yet celebrate your extended family”. The nations of Europe maintain sovereignty with Unity, statehood within Union.

Consider how the UK at the London Olympics could have flown the Union flag on a central pole flanked both sides by the English, Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh flags and celebrate the diversity of its constituents. However, it chose to display only the Union flag; a flag which no parliament has ever officially adopted. The United Kingdom chose to display the flag which is more commonly known to many as “the Butcher’s apron”.

The United Kingdom, formerly Great Britain has been, for a Union, almost unique in its efforts to erase individuality, national origin and national statehood within the image it presents to the community of nations of our world.

Unlike the other Union, in Europe, where difference appears a mark of celebration, the one in the British archipelago uses the jackboot of censorship to stamp out dissent – it demands, Westminster insists that we present to the global community as that which we are not, one nation. This is why London retains control of broadcasting; it can largely control what is both seen within and without these islands.

Consider how often in the national media there was a national flag of the Home nations flown, or shown. It wasn’t. Yet these were not “Britain’s Olympics” they were “London’s Olympics”.

Many foreign athletes, including Usain Bolt, decried the level of micromanagement at these Olympics, not realizing that such authoritarianism is, must be, inbuilt to the psyche of such an administration as exists perennially within Westminster and thereby propagates through society in these many sceptered isles. The isles are many sceptered because they are individual nations.

Consider how many other athletes could have competed, and even medaled, had the nations been individually represented, for instead of four athletes often chasing one place, each could have attended. With a cooperative arrangement for team events think of how such a spectacle could have enhanced the Union in these Isles. Individual for nations, teams for “Gee-Bee” – it works for the Lions.

The “Union” could have had something to cheer about, with retention of “Team Gee-Bee” for team events; each nation could have truly celebrated its own. Proposed to organisations like the Olympics there’s no reason it would not get accepted, after all nations like Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands compete independently though they are effective subsidiaries or protectorates of the United States, their nationals are US citizens and largely follow their laws, yet their immigration policies and currency is the same as used by the 50 states.

Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland all have their own governments, they are in like situation, the only apparent obstacle, the primary one at least appears to be an imperial hegemony that is placed far above domestic harmony on the prioritisation schedule within the UK.

Instead of cooperation and mutual rejoicing we saw a media circus when Scots and Welsh chose to refrain from the “national refrain”, and an intrinsic highlighting of the fractures so self evident amongst the community of nations making up our island world. For many, in athletics and beyond, the refusal to participate in an “anthem” which celebrates the destruction of their ancestors would be seen as an entirely appropriate action.

In Europe each member is free to pursue its own national and international policy, its own rights, and its own laws. Each signs up voluntarily to issues that are perceived to be in the common weal, but each is acknowledged as having the right to leave that Union should it so decide or should economic necessity require it. In Europe’s union no nation is isolated, removed or deprived of a voice with its fellows. Perhaps this is why Westminster harbours so many skeptics to the European project.

There may be no legal mechanism in place for Europe’s fragmentation at the present time, but it’s not viewed as a requirement either constitutionally or democratically. Fundamentally there are rules for joining; no one really cares a lot about who might leave. Unlike the Scots, denied a voice for centuries, Europe’s nations need only a declaration of intent and will to act.

The UK was a forced Union, not an acclaimed one. It didn’t work for the Irish and we are in similar circumstances, for we do know this above all else, that as long as it endures there will be dissent in Scotland. That dissent may or may not boil over into open rebellion, it has in the past, and it should never be discounted in the future.

That is also why if the referendum fails in 2014, it will rise again. It will rise again and again until it does pass. Unionists scathingly refer to this situation as a “Neverendum”, yet such sarcasm should be used sparingly by those who have for centuries engineered the system that has created this situation.

Potentially, Westminster has an opportunity in 2014, but it is a situation that it will not exploit. When examined, it seems obvious the psyche that developed within the belly of the beast, that created the policy processes to guide its actions cannot adapt in decades or centuries, it will not do so in two short years. It could alter this if it has the will; it could dramatically reduce the calls for “Independence”, or perhaps even eliminate them altogether in time, should it choose.

In order to do so, Westminster would have to offer to partner Holyrood in the 2014 referendum, to add to the debate, but it must do so under Holyrood’s rules, not its own. London could achieve this by adopting the third question; it can do so by offering it also to Wales, Northern Ireland, and especially England. In so doing, it would eliminate many if not most of its anomalies and foibles.

It could insert the third option with the cooperation of Holyrood to agree to cease stifling statehood in these Islands. It could agree to put itself forward as a Union parliament for which, like Europe, there would be separate elections.

This could allow Westminster to facilitate growth within the individual nations of the UK, growth without strife or friction, and Westminster could mature in the process. However, there is an outstanding issue that may well defeat such a course. For many, it will mean having to overcome a potentially impossible hurdle in the eyes of individual national franchises – Westminster would have to achieve this while removing any perception of an ongoing yoke, whilst proving honesty of intent and motive.

If this could be achieved, there is a chance that each individual nation could again stand tall; that each might be more comfortable in a Union within a Union, i.e. a true federation of the nation states with an effective voice in both their home parliaments and “New” Westminster. Potentially, we could move quickly and peaceably towards a loosely federal UK, the markets would be receptive, Europe would be comfortable, and democracy would be satisfied.

In truth Westminster can not countenance such a move however, because of fear. London fears that the power it now wields will be diminished, and that federalism is simply a stepping stone towards full independence. The thought of any additional substantial devolution leaves London paralysed by fear and able to act only in a stance of self preservation.

It is this fear induced paralysis that creates the false promises of “Jam tomorrow”, for if they were not false promises, innuendoes or simply outright lies to the electorate, the politicians in Whitehall would incorporate them into a bill that sets in stone the reward Scotland would receive for voting “No”.

The issue again, the powers would need to be substantial, they would need to be guaranteed, they would need to shake Westminster control to its foundations, or they will be derided. The UK government has proven itself incapable of substantive reform, it argued against AV and rebelled and gridlocked the Lords. And these issues are trivial by comparison.

What could be a simple solution will not happen because, at day’s end, the current UK Parliament would require to be constructed similarly the US Senate, with equal number of representatives from each nation. Without it, the domination of a single nation will continue. Without it, the whip will continue to see use and the foot will remain in the jackboot until the time of the “Neverendum” draws to a close in either these reformations or a solid “Yes”.

Ultimately, it is the very palpable fear of any loss of hegemony, of any lessening of stature, of any reduction of influence, no matter how small or insignificant that will bring about statehood once again within these islands.

London’s fear will promote disintegration, for after Scotland, it could be anticipated that Berwick may wish to remove herself from England’s over-lordship and exercise her right to formally rejoin the nation to which she belongs.

That door when opened will simply lead the way; Scotland’s success will breed discontent within the remainder, and the r-UK can anticipate terminal fragmentation. The r-UK will find itself with more in common with the modern EU than it possesses on the surface. For London, like Brussels is terrified of a nation suffering within and succeeding without.

Then the exodus would truly begin, and there is no telling where it will end for either entity.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

What’s next for the Union parties?

This is a question that’s posed with increasing frequency within the blogosphere, actually almost everywhere there’s an interest in the political happenings within Scotland, with the possible exclusion of some mainstream media outlets.

The question presupposes an outcome in the 2014 referendum that’s favourable towards the Nationalist or Independence cause, which perhaps explains why some aspects of Scotland’s media are discovering it to be something of a taboo subject.

The reality of the situation is already self evident within Scots politics.

Fifty years ago there were three main parties, one of whom was decidedly major and two others with aspirations of gaining vote share. Everything else, including the SNP can be considered a fringe party for the immediate post war period.

In the half century since that time the demise of the Conservative party in Scotland has been striking, from over 50% vote share to around 15%, depending upon the poll and the day. Dramatic inroads were made into the Tory vote by the Labour Party with the Liberal / Liberal-Democrats reasonably consistently a distant third.

For almost three post war decades these parties accounted for over 80% of Scotland’s vote. It was only as that third decade drew to a close that we began to see the emergence of a strong fourth party, the SNP, who took vote share from the Westminster parties.

In the almost four decades since the 1974 high tide mark of Nationalist aspirations there has been an ebb and flow in support for an Independent Scotland, it peaked almost fifteen years ago at over 50%. A referendum held within 2-3 years of devolution would have been, in many scenarios, a “done deal” from the perspective of the Scottish electorate.

Going by the published polls since that time support for repatriation of all powers has waned somewhat, apparently contradicting the rise in support that has been relatively steady, some might say relentless for the SNP.

That the National Party of Scotland has seen such a consistent increase in support, particularly while in government is literally without precedent in these Islands, it may even rank as remarkable in the global context.

Scots appear to rationalise the disparity in voting loyalty and intention twofold. Firstly the Holyrood voting intention is typically ahead of Westminster voting intention for the SNP. When questioned in polls the overriding response by Scots voters is that they want competent government, which they feel the SNP supplies, and others do not.

The extension to this argument which is rarely, if ever voiced in the “national” media is that Scots perceive Westminster and / or the Unionist parties as incompetent, or at the very least substantially less competent than the Nationalists.

With every indication that, in Scotland at least, the cream of political acumen is gravitating to the Nationalists that public perception is unlikely to change. The groundswell of support for Nationalist leaning parties passed the 50% mark for the first time ever at the last Scots GE in 2011. With the SNP marching forwards as a relatively cohesive unit it would be an interesting development to watch what would happen were the Green’s to discover a vibrant and dynamic leadership group.

Undoubtedly the Green’s would take votes from the two principle and two increasingly minor principle parties, but it is entirely possible that the next Parliament could see a 2/3 majority of Scots voting for parties that do not support the Union.

Such an eventuality could well, in and of itself, lead to dissolution of the Union of Parliaments within this United Kingdom.

With multiple scenarios abounding whereby the parliamentary Union is consigned to history’s dustbin, it’s appropriate to take a duster and brush off the crystal ball, perhaps there is already a hint of a future socio-political make up of a future Scotland.

The SNP is a broad church, many think the party might fragment after Holyrood and Westminster part. For many reasons this is unlikely.

Expect the SNP to form the first independent government of Scotland, most likely in coalition, but just as probably as the majority party in a proportional parliament. Everyone who is right thinking will realise this is a time for steady, tried, tested and competent hands at the helm. The upheaval, and it will be there, which is created by the Westminster split will be something which will demand it in the short term.

In the middle to longer term expect the party to mature and maintain its left of center stance – it’s basically sitting at 11 O’clock and has seen substantial success by occupying the position vacated by the Labour party. The SNP will see new adherents and some defections as is normal for a healthy organisation.

The SSP are somewhere around 10 O’clock with the communist party inhabiting the 9 O’clock slot.

Sitting somewhere between the 12 O’clock and 1 O’clock positions is presently what appears to be a void. There is no trustworthy political organisation currently plying its trade in that area for the votes that are out there. In the wings, and registered with the electoral commission are the SDA [Scottish Democratic Alliance] who’s published documents to date appear to indicate rather firmly that this is where we can expect to see them position themselves within the political spectrum.

The Green’s tend to float an hour either side of Noon, and are likely to remain a supporting, relatively fringe party in the absence of truly charismatic leadership emerging.

UKIP and the other Westminster “fringe” parties will be ignored as there is little place for them in the post Independence world.

The remaining question surrounds the historically dominant Unionist parties, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

Technically these groups all positioned on the right of our clock face, between 1pm and 3pm are fighting for survival. Without a Union of the parliaments they will quite simply cease to have relevance. For them to continue in Scotland after Westminster informing the Scots that Independence is a one way ticket would be like the US republican’s standing in Mexico and the Democrats in Canada.

The Conservatives, during their last leadership competition perhaps gave us an inkling of what they see; a separate party allied to London. The issue is that this idea was posed, examined and failed. Its window of opportunity was always going to be so small in historical terms that time now appears to be gone.

Of much more interest is to consider that the leadership of all these Union parties are primarily made up of failed political animals, they know nothing else and have exhibited little imagination or self direction. Failed is a reasonable statement in UK terms as these parties make no bones about the fact that “the Cream” goes to Westminster. These individuals are not in Westminster.

In a global sense the Liberal Democrats are allied to the Conservatives in London, while all over Scotland these Union parties work cohesively to close doors on the SNP. It is a rare exception to find an SNP/Unionist collaboration irrespective of the democratic mandate issued by the electorate.

One also discovers upon examination that within the applied policy stances of all the major Unionist parties it’s difficult to discern any real differences. For the most part they are largely interchangeable.

The only reason for maintaining three such parties with largely identical stances seems to be in their ability to fool the Scots electorate with the often compliant assistance of much of the media and to split the vote. It would appear that if one Union party could only gain 30% or less in terms of approval from Scotland’s franchise, but three Union parties manage 45% or more then there is a substantial vested interest in London’s maintaining all three.

With the removal of Westminster coinciding with treaty termination such a need by London will no longer have any bearing on the situation.

The membership of these Union parties is already in decline, there’s nothing even remotely on the horizon to indicate a change.

The financial support for the Union parties is decreasing almost by the day.

Taking the dwindling trifecta of money, support and external need together it would appear that the initial route these parties will take is to emulate the Dodo. What will save the rump organisations who now occupy the right of Scotland’s political spectrum from oblivion is the survival instinct of the major players combined with common political ground.

Anticipate in the timeframe after Independence the three Union parties to coalesce, possibly first as a loose coalition that will slowly through a combination of political and financial expediency see the formation of Scotland’s new hard right.

The stage has already been set for this as they demonstrated their willingness and ability to form a unified coalition around the major common cause of Unionism and the myriad minor causes ranging from the Edinburgh trams through student fees to elderly care and prescription charges.

In the event of a yes vote the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour parties in Scotland will amalgamate, they will coalesce, or they will cease to exist entirely.