Sunday, 2 September 2012

Home truths from abroad

There was a bizarre shock horror story in the US liberal press over the weekend written by a left leaning journalist who had gained access to a briefing given by Karl Rove to high value donors at the Republican Convention.

I both despise and respect Karl Rove, for he is very good at getting right wing candidates elected.

You can guarantee that Axelrod and Plouffe and the other brilliant strategists around the President will not have been surprised, far less horrified, at what Rove had to say, for they will already have wargamed what they believe are their own weak points (on this occasion it certainly can't (just) be the economy, stupid) and tried to work out a counter-strategy. For only losers start from the assumption that their opponents will play "fair". Politics is, after all, a blood sport.

Now I say this because, even at this early stage, there is something weird going on with the Independence Referendum campaign. More naive elements aligned to the SNP are assuming they can dictate the terms on which it is to be conducted. They propose to make a positive case for Independence, even one based largely on the fantasy of lower taxes and yet better public services that might have come straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. We, as their opponents, "must", they insist, make a positive case for the Union.

They further propose that it is taken as a given that the worst possible form of government for Scotland is a Tory Westminster Government. And nobody is to make any attempt to suggest otherwise.

Finally, they claim that their official policy is for civilised dialogue about the nature of nationalism and sovereignty in a modern world, as if we were engaged in an academic seminar conducted by Pat Kane and Gerry Hassan, rather than in war to the knife.

Well, here I propose to let them inside the briefing room. I expect the same "shocked and outraged" response from my SNP readers as some more naive Democrats expressed about Rove. But, while maybe not quite in the Axelrod and Plouffe class, the people around Eck are more street wise. They've already wargamed this and realise that they do not have the counter arguments. That's why they are desperately trying to avoid having a Referendum at all. The good news is that the Tories are apparently coming round to imposing it upon them.

Point One. We'll be doing little more than making a default case for the Union. Independence would mean mass unemployment at the Clyde shipyards. And at Faslane and Rosyth. And RBS will relocate to England (it will of course remain in the ownership of the British Government) as will Standard Life and indeed most of the rest of the Edinburgh financial services industry (for who would want to hold their investments, or their pension, in an unstable foreign country). Americans are highly unlikely to invest in, or even visit, a Country hostile to NATO and indeed all inward investment is likely to more or less come to an end. Worried about benefit cuts? At least you're still getting benefits. It's difficult to see how anything other than subsistence benefits could be paid against the background of the mass unemployment Independence would create. Receiving, or hoping to receive, a British State Pension or a public sector occupational pension? Hard lines.
Working in the public sector? Only if there is money to pay your wages.

And then there's the cultural and demographic effects. A National Broadcaster where you only see what Alex Salmond wants, and even then only if he can afford it. A National Cultural policy that in its promotion of Scottish literature and music makes De Valera's Ireland look like Renaissance Florence. A massive brain drain as any young person of ambition, having escaped compulsory Gaelic in every school, will still have the portable skill of speaking English, at least for the moment, and will, if they've any sense, leave the Country at the earliest opportunity. After all, that's precisely what happened in Ireland.

And when the oil runs out? For the handful of poor souls still here, perhaps cannabalism?

Outrageous? Read the #bettertogether leaflets. They are but an opening, still reasonably civilsed, salvo against a background that most people assume a Referendum is still little more than a theoretical possibility. And already the Nats are calling foul.

And never forget, the reason that negative advertising is so prevalent in American politics is because..............

Point Two. Of course a Tory Government is not ideal but it pays your wages if you're in the public sector. Maintains law and order. Guarantees your pension or state benefit. And even when it is making a mess of the economy, it can still afford to do so. Anyway, we've had Tory Governments before, even Mrs Thatcher, and we're not actually starving. Who can guarantee the same if we let our hearts rule our heads and take a leap in the dark? And, finally,  Tory Governments can always be voted out. Once freed from the restraints of "British" civilised norms who can be sure Eck would be prepared to take that risk? And who'd be there to stop him? The Queen?

Point three. I've already made that point.

Sure, you can say negative things about the Union. But the sales pitch of Scottish oppression, relative British economic decline, evil English Tories (from time to time), involvement in foreign wars. They only preach to the already converted. And that's no more than 20% of the population. With a bit of a "sod them all" add on, you get to the 28% that remains my prediction if there is ever a vote.

That's still an awful long way from 50%. Which is why Eck is up to what he's up to.


  1. Yes, Ian, I can see you're learning from Rove, not least because you've adopted the Romney campaign's relationship with truth.

    You are entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own bloody facts.

  2. "desperately trying to avoid having a Referendum at all"


  3. And coming up later in this edition: scientists find that water is wet, the Pope is accused of being sympathetic to Roman Catholicism and some surprising news about bears ... Maybe it's just me but I always anticipated a Karl Rove-inspired campaign: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. If only Westminster wasn't quite so incompetent. After all, the case for sticking with the Devil you know would be so much easier to make if George Osborne and Ed Balls weren't around.

  4. "Yaaaaawwwwnnnnn."

    That's you're argument well and truly refuted Iain.

    Bet you wish you hadn't wasted your time writing the blog now.


  5. Any response would be futile as it is not possible to use reason to argue a person from a position which was not arrived at by reason. The only recourse would be humour. A mocking riposte to such blatant drivel. But I'm afraid Mr Smart's demented referendum denial long since passed from being cause for levity to being a cause for concern about his mental well-being.


  6. 'Once freed from the restraints of "British" civilised norms who can be sure Eck would be prepared to take that risk? And who'd be there to stop him? The Queen?'

    This is actually beyond belief. What's happening to Labour in Scotland?

  7. Excellent! I am putting the result nearer 20%. And I read that the bookies concur, lengthening the odds to 6/1 AGAINST last week.

    Salmond knows a thing or two about gambling, and I think he sees this Referendum like the Grand National (sic). That's a race many serious gamblers avoid most of the time. But every once in a while they take a punt. Despite the knowledge that they're unlikely to win, with the odds being seriously stacked against. Unless they get very lucky. But what gambler would be able to resist that for ever? And, maybe things will conspire in their favour …? They calculate that they’re betting with what they can afford to lose.

    So Salmond already has his excuses ready, and will be working out what role a post-referendum losing SNP leader could enjoy.... What has the SNP been saying recently about Lords reform...?

  8. Serious question.
    Do you have mental health issues?

  9. This is the funniest piece I've read by a supporter of Scottish Unionism in a long time, which is saying something; not because i is comical per se, but because its peculiarity, and what it tells us about the mindset of Unionist "bitter einders", provides a fascinating insight into the pathology of fear.

    So frightened are people like Mr Smart of the prospect of independence, so terrified that things might actually change for the better, that no claim is too monstrous, no calumny too extreme that it cannot be marshalled against the SNP, Big Eck and anyone supporting independence.

    Indeed, so far have people like Mr Smart travelled to the right, that they actually see a Tory government imposed on Scots who didn't vote for it, as preferable to a left of centre SNP (or indeed any other post independence party) government in an independent Scotland.

    Do you honestly expect us to treat your your dystopian nightmare of what will happen post a YES vote in 2014 with anything other than derision? Imposed Gaelic? A brain drain? No ships being built on the Clyde? Big Eck turning into some latter day De Valera... only much, much worse?

    Are you sure you haven't missed some recent medication; it's a serious question, because the vision presented honestly suggests some form of psychosis.

  10. "Once freed from the restraints of "British" civilised norms who can be sure Eck would be prepared to take that risk? And who'd be there to stop him? The Queen?"

    Are you honestly trying to assert that Scotland would become a dictatorship upon independence?

    Is this what the No campaign has been reduced to? Is this what the Labour Party has been reduced to?

  11. ian smart,

    "Once freed from the restraints of "British" civilised norms who can be sure Eck would be prepared to take that risk? And who'd be there to stop him? The Queen?"

    You really think that? Or is it just another tune in the Karl Rove songbook? You forget about the electorate at your peril, so no change there then.

  12. ....and another thing:

    "Americans are highly unlikely to invest in, or even visit, a Country hostile to NATO and indeed all inward investment is likely to more or less come to an end. "

    Utter nonsense. did the Americans not invest in France, or refuse to visit it after it withdrew from the NATO command structure? No, of course they didn't. It will make zero difference. Big Eck and the SNP can't dictate whether we will be in NATO, that will be for the the people of Scotland to decide post independence.

    Like your other ranting about the supposed collapse of the clyde shipbuilding industry post independence, there is no rational basis to this claim. It has already been convincingly demonstrated that if an independent Scotland allocated the same to defence as a proportion that it contributes now, it could easily be far BETTER defended and resourced than at present. YOu only have to look to countries of similar size like Denmark and Norway.

    Alternatively we could spend much less than current levels and put the difference into other spending. Of course we'd also be free of WMD's on the Clyde, which you and your muckers support, and not be expected to take part in hubristic exercises like Iraq.

    You have zero evidence that Scotland would be hostile to NATO, and even if it decided not to be in the alliance.. so what? The American are big boys.... the cope quite well with a neutral Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.

    Any other poorly researched and ill rezoned straw men I can burn to the ground for you Mr Smart?


  13. .. and to immolate another of your ridiculous straw men:

    Comparisons with Ireland, de Valera, the brain drain and compulsory gaelic: oh please tell me you didn't trot those old chestnuts out?

    Where is there any evidence of compulsory gaelic having been seriously suggested, still less entertained for an independent Scotland? Total fantasy on your part. People left Ireland because it was poor and presented few opportunities for many decades... nothing like contemporary Scotland, and still less like post independence Scotland, which even the most fervent Unionist has to admit is the second richest part of the UK outside London and the SE, and likely to be much better off post independence given the fact that oil reserves (despite your mis-information) will last for decades.

    Given the poor job done by the MSM at present , I'm all for an SBC; you'll be telling us next we'll all die without access to the BBC.... twaddle. What we need we can buy in, and as many recent imports from Denmark and Sweden have shown, they can produce top notch output when you look at some of the pap the UK channels produce.

    Scotland like de Valera's Ireland? You patently know even less about recent Irish history than you do about defence and security issues and NATO.

    Honestly Mr Smart, it isn't a sin to be ignorant, but it is a sin to be proud of it and to broadcast your ignorance more widely by blogging about it!


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