Pro-union case ought not to make counter ‘offers’ to Scots

A particularly foolish direction of the current debate on whether Scotland should stay in the union or go for the version of independence on offer, is the suggestion that the pro-union campaign – or the political parties involved in it – should ‘make Scotland an offer’ to stay in the union.

This would be quite wrong.

The pro-independence campaign is making ‘offers’ two a penny, having sold the soul we hoped it might have to the notion that votes can be bought.

And maybe they can.

But voters need at least one campaign to remind them that this is not the sale of the century. This is about deciding to belong to one nation or to two, to focus on a single identity or to keep the fluidity, the latitude, we currently have.

There are equally persuasive arguments to be made for either option.

If what we really want is an auction for our favours, what does this say about the sort of people we are, about why we might vote one way or the other?

This is different from weighing the economic arguments for independence and for the union. We have done this, objectively, on serious and prolonged research – and found no supportable economic case for independence.

But in the end, these arguments too are not what this debate ought really to be about.

It’s too late now, though. The Scottish Government took the inducement path early and committed to it.  But we cannot have two barrow-boy campaigns, each shouting the odds for our votes.

And supposing we were made an ‘offer’ by the pro-union campaign?

How does the Scottish Government justify its current calls for such counter-offers to be made by the pro-union  campaign?

If the UK government or the pro-union campaign were to do this, they would be taking the decisions on the nature of what was on offer – when the argument about the weakness of the union is that decisions are not essentially taken by the partners in the union.

So if we were made an offer we liked and were minded to accept it, we would continue to accept the principle of taking what we are given and of not being a part of deciding on the shape and operation of the union itself.

We flatly do not want to see the pro-union campaign chucking bids into the mix. It would be degrading. It would underline that we are seen as scrabblers for advantage, grubbing for crumbs thrown in the dust. It is a matter of profound sadness that the pro-independence campaign shrank itself to this particular vision. We certainly do not want to face competing campaigns of this order.

But accepting pro-union offers of the same kind, if they were made, would simply perpetuate the status quo of givers and takers, not of equal partners in a re-energised collective enterprise.

It is too late for the pro-independence campaign to raise its game – and it may well prove to have been right in its obvious calculation that votes can be bought in this way.

The pro-union campaign, however, must retain its dignity – and ours – in not descending to this tactic.

If Scotland decides to stay in the union, it must decide to do so on the principle of union rather than of going it alone – and rather than being offered a pre-formed variation of a different union.

The only offer the pro-union campaign can offer that is acceptable is that, whatever the result of the Scottish referendum, there will be a constitutional conference of members of the union, starting in the summer of 2015 [and which would most constructively be a standing constitutional conference] – to reshape and redirect the union together.

This would be honourable, offering only the right to participate in the sort of collective renewal that is to everyone’s advantage, whether the union then is of the four current nations or of England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

After the turbulence and cost Scotland will have put the union through by the end of this, everyone is going to need the fun of renewal, of reinvention.

If we go indy, it would be good to know that our former colleagues in the union we once belonged to were having fun remaking and refocusing themselves in a new union.

And if we don’t go indy, we need to be a creative part of that reinvention.

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43 Responses to Pro-union case ought not to make counter ‘offers’ to Scots

  1. A standing constitutional convention might indeed be a good idea, but it was an equally good idea a generation ago, but only now might be on offer. A bit late … don’t you think ?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

    • The past is the past – irrecoverable,
      The present and the future are open to our shaping.
      Better late than never, really – and if Scotland were to choose independence, it would not be a concern of ours anyway.
      But it would be good to see the union, whatever its membership, getting down to what it ought indeed to have done some time ago.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

      • I’m not so sure about the present and the future being open to our shaping Newsie.
        Two things.
        When you say our, you mean England’s right? I agree if this is what you meant to say, the future for us is in the English electorate’s hands, they have the power to shape the unions present and future.
        UKIP, the Tories UK Labour are popular down south so fingers crossed for Scotland eh?.
        What has been dramatically transformed for the better with the decades of successive Labour and Tory governments?
        Can’t we just aim a wee bit higher than what we live with today and if this isn’t too much to hope for, do you think the status quo can deliver a higher quality of life for all in Scotland?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 10

      • In the event of a “no” vote the overwhelming likelihood is that the Wesminster government will take all steps possible to make sure that no independence vote can ever be taken again. After that it will be back to ruling in the interests of south-east england. All your hopes for “constitutional conferences” are merely pie-in-the-sky – an attempt at bribery before the vote.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

    • Why would it be any concern of ours? And there is nothing intentionally provocative in this. It is a simple statement of fact
      In the indy scenario, we would, by choice, have our own concerns; leaving the UK to its own concerns.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

  2. Firstly apologies for the length of my post, there’s just so much to contest.
    “There are equally persuasive arguments to be made for either option”
    Oh really Newsie?
    Have we just witnessed the ‘NO’ argument to date, looking forward to the belated arguments for ‘YES’
    “If what we really want is an auction for our favours, what does this say about the sort of people we are, about why we might vote one way or the other?”
    Isn’t “an auction for our favours” how elections work?
    “How does the Scottish Government justify its current calls for such counter-offers to be made by the pro-union campaign?”
    So, to “keep the fluidity, the latitude, we currently have” and to promote this is simply enough to win a ‘NO’ vote? Tolerating a supposed wealthy UK (1.3 Trillion in debt) housing food banks the length and breadth at the same time as spending approximately 40 billion a year on our defence, funding overseas wars etc may be acceptable to those who either don’t care or not directly affected but to many faced with a YES/NO in this referendum these are precisely the situations they should and will be taking into consideration.
    For the ‘NO’ campaign to hope that they can simply gloss over all that is unwell with the UK and hope that by trashing the hopes and vision of a ‘YES’ vote this will suffice and win over voters is a risky game.
    David Cameron had the perfect opportunity to reduce the risk of a ‘YES’ vote being successful in September by making sure the Devo Max option remained.
    Lets see what the unionist parties attempt to bribe the electorate with although why has it taken until this independence question has been put to our nation, how very calculating and reactionary.
    “It is too late for the pro-independence campaign to raise its game – and it may well prove to have been right in its obvious calculation that votes can be bought in this way”
    Disagree. Every door in the country will be chapped, no longer will our MSM be given carte blanche to misinform to blatantly lie and show such glaring bias. Such is the huge pool of on the ground volunteers the ‘YES’ campaign have at their disposal and the sheer will and determination to redress the balance in this debate, there will be many who when confronted with the information as we have already witnessed, will make the only forward thinking positive choice for Scotland.
    “After the turbulence and cost Scotland will have put the union through by the end of this, everyone is going to need the fun of renewal, of reinvention”
    The cost to the union pales into utter insignificance compared to the UK’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, both futile, one immoral not to mention illegal. The cost? (apart from the more important lives) over £20 billion of UK cash, our taxes, our revenues. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10359548
    Difference is, this referendum we face in Scotland was democratically voted for so any costs incurred cannot be blamed on the Scottish government and incidentally neither can either of the wars the UK have forced our infantry’s into.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 11

    • Its sometimes worth digging a little deeper right enough. I will admit I used to be as guilty as the next one in consuming, believing something I’d read simply because it was published in a long established respected paper, changed days, keep an open mind, question absolutely everything now all right.
      Derek Bateman has an excellent investigative questioning mind, some thought provoking arguments.
      The reverend at ‘Wings over Scotland’ is particularly forensic, very little of Better Together’s/MSM’s slight of hand slips through his net.
      Sad that only those visiting the site are exposed to his findings.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

    • But not from an economist.
      The FT survey is unlike any other conducted. It takes a great number of international experts across a wide spectrum from the policy, business and investment sectors of the financial world and from academic economists.
      Their individual perspectives, their institutions and thier focus of expertise is widely varied, yet the vast majority see the same outcome from their particular standpoints.
      This is as close to 360 degree concurrence as you will get.
      This is not said with any sense of triumphalism. It is simply laying out the facts.
      We wish the independence debate had not become so conflicted as to obstruct the consideration and weighing of evidence. We do not see this matter as a game to be won by one of two sides and by any means possible – but as the most serious possible decision for an entire nation and therefore one where all evidence must be understood and taken into account.
      The core – possibly the terminal – weakness of the pro-independence campaign is that it cannot back up with facts and interrogateable evidence the claims it has made. This is the result of the original decision to go for an inducement campaign and avoid presenting the sort of honest prospectus that would have had wider and deeper support.
      This does not mean that it will not win. It may well be that its political judgment that votes can be bought by inducement may, sadly, have been correct.
      And we say ‘sadly’ here not because of the possible winning but because we had hoped that the debate, in all its aspects, would rise above the essential tackiness of being promised ‘more’ and being motivated by wanting to get ‘more’.
      And by the way, aren’t ‘real’ journalists the ones whose ethical standards allow the doorstepping of grieving families to ask how they feel; and the illegal hacking of people’s phones?
      Times change – and changing with them is one of the vital signs.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

      • This is as close to 360 degree concurrence as you will get.

        Funny how consensus is a decisive factor in economics – a notoriously fallible discipline when it comes to predictons – but of no significance at all when it comes to climate science.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  3. Crikey, if you believe investment bankers have no axe to grind then you must also believe in the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    Do you really believe that Newsie?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  4. The FT survives on the City of London and has a London centric view on everything.-

    I don’t recall it warning about the Bank collapse or credit crunch despite having financial experts on hand and contacts in HM Treasury.

    The fact is no one knows what the future holds but if we are independent at least the people of Scotland will set a direction of travel on economic and social care policy with which they are comfortable.

    It will require adaptation over the years but that will be our choice.

    I simply cannot bear to see the levels of poverty in this country continue. Collectively we can and must resolve that. The UK government in whatever guide will not uses the usurers of the City of London to address it. With the amount of money sloshing about there it could be resolved but the focus on individual wealth at the expense of the common good is unforgivable

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

    • I do recall them referring to US sub-prime mortgages many months before it materialised into a ‘crash’.

      They have to be careful what they say, too, since so influential a publication might tip such concerns into a self-fulfilling prophecy,

      The BBC was heavily criticised for Robert Peston’s outstanding coverage of the banking crisis which politicians claimed exacerbated the situation.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

    • With this brave new world being created by Independance with poverty being reduced I can see Scotland becoming the new first destination for the worlds poor.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

  5. I may be confused but I thought there was a difference between “news” and “personal opinions” whereas forArgyll appears to have no differentiation

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4

    • I think you’ll find that there are many newspapers where articles are written from the viewpoint of the authors. I don’t buy the papers that I know come from a certain “stable”.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

      • Regarding this independence debate, there is only one “stable” regrettably.

        Granted there is an element of tokenism, Joan McAlpine’s column in Daily Record, Ian McWhirter of the Herald but they are extremely thin on the ground.

        We have a grossly imbalanced pro-unionist media with one only agenda.

        Now the internet, its awash with those who do not rely on pro-union leaning employers paying their wages where freedom of expression is tolerated.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      • “Many newspapers” at least make some pretense at a separation of editorial opinion and news items – on FA they are seamlessly integrated, so that you have to sift all the “news” for items of fact – not that there is an overabundance of these either.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  6. EDITORS CODE
    1
    Accuracy
    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
    ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.
    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
    iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published
    Pro -union case is
    Debt for the next 20 years
    Replacement of nuclear weapons
    Wealthy to become wealthier or tax exiles like Branson
    Unelected House of Lords to continue
    MP’s to get 11% for all their hard work
    Behind the scenes undermining of this country will continue similar to the past 100 years and more
    Convential defence forces will be reduced with forces collecting P45′s
    Bankers will continue to get away with it
    Means testing in all things
    No free education as we need nuclear weapons
    Privatisation of NHS will be forced on Scotland
    London and environs will get the investment to the detriment of everywhere else
    Add your own

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

  7. America’s Fox Business Network Stocks Editor Elizabeth MacDonald in her article explains why the FT like all other publications should be read with a sceptical mind. As she puts it “Lazy analysts use badly researched listings” are tolerated within the FT columns.
    Yes just one example, yes her agenda and motives aparent and just one person’s evaluation of FT’s findings, I’m pretty certain many more could be found but still another reason readers must be aware.
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/government/2013/10/02/financial-times-gets-it-wrong-again/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

    • We believe in the security of approaching everything from an interrogatory stance – hence we have dismissed as insubstantial a lot of the scaremongering that comes from all sides of the independence dispute.
      Factually, this FT survey was NOT an analysis, It was a harvesting of opinion from a substantial number of high level experts across a wide spectrum of relevant expertise.
      As such, it requires to be considered.
      Nothing requires to be believed without rigorous testing – and that applies universally.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 12

      • Yet another of newsie’s pompous, tendentious and goal-post-shifting exercises to excuse her biased coverage of the independence issue. Fortunately for my blood pressure she seems to have given up on “We have to understand and live by the principle of objective fairness.” but in all seriousness I have to say that “There is a pathology to this behaviour which has to be of concern.”

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

      • NEWSIE. Change the record and your hair colour! What complete drivel.

        If Scotland votes for Independence will you leave the country Yes or No?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

        • To be fair Stewarty, and rarely one to defend Newsie, nor does she require defending, but on this occasion she has said she would stay if we vote Yes whilst replying in an older blog. Why would anyone other than fools leave, challenging but truly exciting times await us all, potential dividends to aim for.

          I have yet to read her FT link but will do once registration (a requirement) is complete.

          One other thing did occur to me though which was if the FT and FA’s findings on an independent Scotland’s economy being unsustainable are definitive then a glaring question remains to be answered here.
          Why do David Cameron and Alasdair Darling both claim Scotland can be a successful independent country yet if Scotland’s books post independence don’t balance both remain tight lipped?
          Surely they should be shouting this from the rooftops.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  8. At last – I have to admit – I’ve seen the light. – Newsie’s right.
    I am reliably informed (i.e. heard a vague rumour) that the SNP is going enroll the notorious soul-stealer Chthulhu (© H.P. Lovecraft) and that he will be in charge of SNP recruitment. His frst policy will be to grade and brand all new-born babies for later consumption at SNP satanic orgies. Evidently he will later bcome Foreign Policy Minister (source: heard what might have been a rumour if my hearing had been better), with a remit to broker treaties with Japan and Iceland to import volcanoes into Scotland (after a gap of many millions of years free of these loathsome incomers) and that they will be used for the human sacrifice all NO voters.We must use the “sword of truth” (© Jonathan Aitken) and “the principle of objective fairness.” (© newsie) to combat this evil conspiracy. We must fight on the inter-tidal areas, the lower slopes of minor hills and (as I am reliably [i.e. read it in a story] informed), on the abysall plains (as, I am similarly reliably informed i.e. read it in another story, that Cthulhu has a maritime habitat) around these islands (excluding Ireland, as newsie has abandoned the place) to defeat this monstrous plan. (Wow! much more like this and I’ll get an editorial slot on FA).
    Otherwise, where will it end? Ireland will want home rule, India will want to leave the Empire, Poland will opt out of the Soviet Union, the Austro-Hungarian Empire will dissolve, the GDR will unite with the Fedal Republic and join the EU WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS! Rome will fall, East Timor will ….
    “What’s that Carruthers …
    … they have? Well, we don’t want to be last in the queue – there must be only Palestine, Tibet, Catalonia, Scotland and Helensburgh left to gain independence! We shall vote YES! after all”.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

  9. I forced myself to read the FT article despite the extreme tedium involved. The impression I was left with was that “don’t know” and “not very much change” (and a substantial number of “no comments”) were the predominant responses in relation to the impact of independence on Scotland’s economy.

    I always ask myself how many of these talking heads, these “high level experts” in newsroom’s book, predicted the global economic melt-down of 2007-8. If they weren’t in that small band of economists who actually did warn that there was a gigantic juggernaut charging towards us (a juggernaut invented, constructed and driven by their very own employers, for the most part) what’s the point in them? What value (in a literal, quantitative sense) is there in their opinions? How useful is their advice?

    What, come to think of it, are their areas of “high level” expertise?

    Take the arch-doomsayer of the respondents, a Professor Bosanquet, as a for instance. He is, indeed, affiliated to Imperial College as he claims, apparently in their Dept of Bioengineering but as an “honorary staff member” according to an FOI someone requested, and his area of academic experience is in the subject of “health policy”. (In relation to which, some of Richard Feynman’s more trenchant comments come to mind … )

    I’m to be persuaded to vote No by Mr Bosanquet commenting in the FT that Scotland would have “taken leave of its senses” and that “the Yes vote would be a disaster”? Scottish economy? “High level expert”? Would I be so gullible?

    Anyway, Bosanquet was an extreme case. The aggregate message represented in these universally metrocentric “expert” views amounted to: “Don’t really know and don’t really care”.

    If you think about it, that’s a pretty good reason to vote Yes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  10. Opinions are just that, opinions.

    I prefer to base my opinions on facts. The Economist , no friend of Scottish independence publishes an annual yearbook on each state which I purchase each year. It’s a fascinating comparator of economic and other indicators of international quality of life. It draws information from the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and others.

    Over the last 20 years the UK has without interruption dropped its league position against every country which borders the North Sea.

    That tells me there is something significantly and endemically wrong the political structure of these islands.

    Furthermore over my 60 years on this planet , a fifth of the union of the parliaments, there is not one geopolitical or macro economic event in which the UK has gained at the expense of its advanced world competitors.

    Unlike Michael Kelly ex LP of Glasgow I can’t believe there isn’t something better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  11. As better together isn’t a serious campaign, nothing but FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt), I don’t expect them to come up with anything that will make retaining union seem attractive … if they were serious they would have had a big document out ages ago detailing the hard facts of what would happen post no vote devoid of any hint of ‘Alex Salmond is a ….’ – ‘Scotland is doomed ….’
    Am 99.99999% sure they don’t know how to do this within rules of Tory handbook on Scotland they are working from!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    • As better together isn’t a serious campaign, nothing but FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt),{{ Although “fud” is widely accepted in Scotland as being a slang term for the female reproductive organs, it is generally used as a pejorative to describe someone who has just done something stupid, often in situations where they’ve either been impulsive or it was blindingly obvious beforehand that it was a stupid thing to do. It can also be used to describe someone who irritates everyone because they try to impress everyone all the time & invariably talk a load of pish.
      “Haw ya big fud!” (angry) }} ‘Alex Salmond is a FUD ….’ – ‘Scotland is doomed
      Thanks for that opportunity Iain, excuse the plagiarism and to all you “see you Jimmies” my thrust is personal not political!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

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