Monday, 29 December 2014

The War is Over

At this time of year it is customary to take kids to the cinema.

When I was myself but just a boy I was taken on a festive trip to see what remains one of my favourite films: Patton.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it is a biopic, of sorts, of General George S. Patton who commanded US forces during the Second World War in North Africa and Italy but who most famously of all then led the US 3rd Army in France and beyond after the Normandy invasion.

The underlying message is threefold. Firstly, that Patton was a great military commander; secondly, that he was a complete lunatic and, thirdly, that, as a result of these two differing characteristics, he was a man born for war and left in the end without any great purpose without it.

Towards the end of the film Patton attends a victory event with the Soviets in Berlin. And he suggests that since the two allies clearly hate each other; will, in his opinion, eventually, come to blows, and already have their optimal armies in the field then they should just get on with fighting each other there and then.

It takes wiser heads to inform him that the war is over and that neither side has an immediate appetite for further hostilities.

There are any number of Pattons in Scottish public life. Not just on the opposing sides of the political war just ended but amongst the war correspondents as well. It wasn't just fun while it lasted, it was the time of their lives. As much "fun" as Patton's tanks racing through the Ardennes to relieve Bastogne had proved to be to the General himself. Iain MacWhirter is out there now punting his book on how the referendum has changed the world. Good fortune too him, but somewhere deep down he knows that it hasn't and that next year there will be a significantly lesser appetite for a considered evaluation of Angela Constance's first term as Education Secretary. Just asAlan Cochrane appreciates that, at Christmas 2015, indiscreet gossip about the reorganisation of Scotland's Accident and Emergency Departments will be unlikely to see any future publication on the topic flying off the shelves.

And that is just the correspondents. The respective armies also can't quite give up the fight. Sure it is fun for my side to point out the consequences that would have followed a Yes vote now that oil retails at $60 a barrel. But it doesn't matter. There wasn't a Yes vote. And it is also fun for the Nats to anticipate vengeance on the Labour Party. But so what even if that comes to pass? There is not, in their wildest fantasies, going to be another referendum any time soon. Never mind a reliable Yes majority.

It's over. The vast majority of the conscripted on either side just want to get home to their families and get on with their lives.

I was as enthusiastic a warrior as any. I am in no doubt that the 55% saw off not just an economic catastrophe but a greater evil in its wake where those who might have won, realising that the English were now beyond their meaningful hatred, would have turned their vitriol on those still easily to hand. That is forever the pattern of all small nationalisms. Always claiming to be uniquely different but always proving in the end to be fundamentally the same.

It's time however to realise that, grateful though we are for victory, the fighting is over and get back to normality. Even if that does involve some in being unwillingly demobbed

And with that I wish all my readers a happy and prosperous 2015. Hopefully with a Labour Government at the end of it


  1. But so what even if that comes to pass?

    throwing in the towel already?

    There is not, in their wildest fantasies, going to be another referendum any time soon. Never mind a reliable Yes majority.

    probably not a independence referendum,but a very good chance of a HomeRule,Federal Union one 2016

  2. This is an recital of the forlorn Unionist wish "Jocks please it's all over, just get back in your box and leave the grown-ups in Westminster to run things" (although expressed more politely).

    Sorry, Ian, it ain't over by any means. This is not the 'Scots wha' hey' "small nationalism" of your imagining. This is a civic nationalism that has garnered support from all sorts of folk including those least supposed to, a movement that keeps swelling, has near quintupled SNP's and the Greens' ranks and shows no sign yet of subsiding. I would wager that Scotland has the most energised electorate in Western Europe.

    Talk of vitriol from the Unionist side, with its deranged demonisation of Salmond and others, and threats of catastrophe in every sphere, is singularly inappropriate. I won't say more.

    As many have observed, the losers are triumphing like winners and the winners grousing like losers. Now why should this be?!

    I recommend you get used to it. There is no "going back to normality". Scotland changed for ever on 19th September. Just watch May 2015 and watch Holyrood 2016.

  3. And…
    ref. oil. please, can we leave this? what has it got to do with Scotland's capability to regain and manage its independence? Oil is nice to have (when your neighbour doesn't siphon away the revenues to staunch its current deficits). That's why prudent countries set up oil funds.

    But it is a bonus, nothing more. Would you argue that medium sized democratic European states like, say, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Czech Republic, are doomed because they don't have oil? They are doing just fine. They share with Scotland an ancient polity, a good work ethic, a strong intellectual and moral underpinning… anything worn g with Scotland joining them?

  4. It is myopic, self-regarding commentary like yours that sustains the desire for self-determination amongst those of us on the Yes side. Keep pumping it out because every self-regarding, patronising breath you exhale only serves to fill our sails. It is astonishing how blithely you disregard the obvious shift in the political dynamic happening all around you. Where are SLAB's 80,000 new members. Point to any country on the planet and show me a political party in a functioning democracy that has grown as rapidly as the SNP has, following such a 'humiliating defeat'. You remind me less of Patton, more the last Dodo. He would have sat there, much like you do, watching his brothers and sisters slowly disappearing saying, 'Nothing's changed, nothing's changed.' until, all of a sudden...

  5. You must be proud to name Bruce Anderson among your Allies. Now there IS a Patton for the Union.

  6. "Point to any country on the planet and show me a political party in a functioning democracy that has grown as rapidly as the SNP has, following such a 'humiliating defeat'."

    The Labour Party in 1997 comes to my mind (numbers that were reduced by half after a decade).

    Actually the SNP's growth shows how out of touch the YES side were. The growth is the reaction to a defeat that wasn't anticipated by many (despite most polls). There was a lot of echo chamber in the YES side, and the reaction to the defeat looks a lot like a typical "we was robbed" moment.

    Let's see how the SNP manages its membership growth. I'll believe it's real when they keep their members for another legislature. In the meantime, I won't hold my breath.

    1. 'Actually the SNP's growth shows how out of touch the Yes side were.'

      An astonishing statement and a distortion of logic and common sense that only in a game of Twister would it make any sense. You are desparate to try and get your hand on the red circle but your arse is in the way. You insult the intelligence of tens of thousands of people to try and force it into your desired, though unfortunately deluded, view of the world.

      'Let's see how the SNP manages its membership growth.'

      And how the Green Party and SSP manage the growth in their membership. Everyone is hold on...ConLabLib are stagnant or falling. What would they give for the 'problem' and the money the SNP are getting?

    2. OK Joe, if you say it, so be it...

      ... in the meantime, keep whining, sore loser...

    3. How many members does SLAB actually have? I mean card carrying, dues paying members, not associates or social club members? Why hasn't there been a Murphy bounce? He's had enough good press to bounce a pawn shop ball sign to the Moon but the polls are as flat as a dead Turbot.

  7. I'm not whining. I'm a happy bunny. It's you guys who are whining, especially the likes of Anderson and Mr Smart, you are exceptionally poor winners. It's as if you don't believe your own press releases, who knows, maybe you don't?