We’re proudly Scottish – but still British

Shadow Foreign Secretary, DOUGLAS ALEXANDER MP, argues that narrow nationalism is not what Scotland – nor the United Kingdom – needs in the debate about independence.

 

Meryl Streep’s extraordinary performance in The Iron Lady has reminded many of us in Scotland of the last era when we were challenged seriously to choose between being Scottish and British.

Under Margaret Thatcher, values that helped to define Scotland’s sense of national identity – those of community and of social justice – came under sustained attack, and the autonomy of Scotland’s own civic institutions, from our schools and universities to our health service, appeared at real risk.

The author William Mcllvanney caught the mood of those times when in 1987 he said: “If we allow her to continue she will remove from the word Scottish any meaning other than the geographical.”

Now, in a different era, the SNP comprises supporters stretching from the fundamentalist right to the far left – held together by their pursuit of a separate state.

Next week, Alex Salmond will deliver a speech in London in which, on past form, he will seek to argue that independence is an enlightened act that should be supported by progressives in England in supposed solidarity with progressives in Scotland.

It is a case that the Scottish left has, for decades, rejected, not least because the break-up of Britain would represent a defeat for progressive ideals and a retreat from a shared vision of a multiethnic, multicultural and multinational state.

With the creation in 1999 of the first Scottish Parliament for 300 years, Scotland’s democratic deficit was eliminated and its distinctive institutions became for the first time accountable directly to its people. Given this historic change it cannot seriously be argued any longer that Scotland’s culture, its distinctive institutions or its nationhood are today threatened by actions taken by the British Parliament. And in the past three centuries of Scotland’s history, the quiet determination to maintain what is distinctly Scottish has never required the abandonment of everything that is British.

The first decade of devolution saw a decade of economic growth in Scotland that resulted in a resurgence of Scottish pride and confidence. And during this decade of transformation, the repository of emotion for many Scots moved from class-based institutions to national institutions.

In part this was because traditional symbols of, and repositories for, working-class identity – such as trade union membership and large-scale industrial workplaces – were declining.

However, simultaneously there remained a strength of national pride, reaffirmed in everything from the music of the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles”, sung on the terraces at Hampden, to Eddi Reader’s musical reinterpretation of Burns’s poetry and song.

And while the love and respect for the BBC, the NHS, the armed forces and the Royal Family have stayed strong, other distinctively Scottish institutions grew in the Scottish people’s affections. The SNP saw these changes and increased economic strength and sought to annex the sense of confidence it generated to their definition of Scotland and its destiny.

In contrast, Scottish Labour failed to recognise the changed environment that, ironically, it had help to create. The party was left singing the old hymns and warning of the risks of Thatcherism at a time when these songs were increasingly unfamiliar to a new audience with no personal knowledge of the tunes. In truth, Scottish Labour never felt it needed to be New Labour because arguably that process of modernisation was not needed to defeat the Tories in Scotland, but this complacency, in time, left us vulnerable to attack from a different direction from more nimble opponents.

Seen through this light, the SNP’s victory in May – historic though it was – came despite, not because of, its desire for independence.

People felt they could vote for the SNP to run the devolved government, comfortable in the knowledge that “the independence question” would be dealt with later, if at all, in a separate referendum. And that helps to explain why the popularity in the polls for the SNP has not over recent years or months translated into a significant and sustained rise in support for separation.

Yet Scotland now faces that momentous choice in the years ahead. And in that time of choosing, our duty is greater and our responsibility is heavier. It’s a debate that demands a different quality of imagination. Given the degree of economic integration between the Scottish and the British economies, profound economic questions will be asked. But this debate will, and must, involve more than accountancy. It will involve deep and profound issues about identity in the 21st century.

I am proudly and patriotically Scottish. I don’t look at English people and see foreigners. I certainly see sporting rivals, but I also see friends, colleagues, and family. To my mind, just because we are to varying degrees Scottish, British and European, it does not follow that loyalty to one must come at the price of denial of the other.

And this debate will involve questions not just about who we are, but what we believe. Politics is about more than identity; it’s also about ideals. Along with millions of Scots, I have long believed we are stronger together and would be weaker apart.

It’s not just that our grandparents stood shoulder to shoulder in the fight against fascism, but that they then built the NHS and the system of National Insurance that enshrined the principle that sharing of risks by all of us provides rights for each of us. Those were forward-looking, radical, reformist acts.

To reject now the sharing of risks, rewards and resources among the 60 million people of the United Kingdom and instead spend the coming years erecting new barriers between the nations of these islands would, for me, represent a retreat from that progressive tradition.

Now is the time for progressives on both sides of the border to stand together in rejection of a politics of grudge and manufactured grievance. And to reject a politics that draws its energy from gleeful assertions of difference rather than expressions of co-operation.

In an age defined by greater interdependence and connection, narrow nationalism is the wrong path for Scotland – and for Britain.

https://i2.wp.com/www.labourhame.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/LabourHame-rose4.png?resize=81%2C77

Douglas Alexander is the Shadow Foreign Secretary and served in the last Labour government as Secretary of State for Scotland, Transport and International Development. Follow Douglas on Twitter at @DAlexanderMP.

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41 thoughts on “We’re proudly Scottish – but still British

  1. What we really need, Douglas, is some positive argument in favour of the Union, something that’s beyond dispute. How about it? Over on Tory Hoose, Murdo claims they have them in spades (but conveniently forgot to mention any). Why don’t you pick up where he left off and really argue the case, instead of this rather limp emotional appeal?

  2. It’s all about choice

    The Scots need the choice in the independence referendum, and the choice of more devoloution (well more than the current Scotland act wants)

    ps is it true the tories have put a clause in the current Scotland act that could allow westminster to force a new nuclear power station on Scotland ?

  3. Well argued, though I disagree with how Douglas Alexander views this issue and certainly disagree with his conclusion.

    Devolution didn’t eliminate the ‘democratic deficit’ as he suggests – it merely prevented the democratic deficit extending to all aspects of Scottish life. While it is true that Scotland can now (within Westminster’s spending constraints) have a health and education system in line with what its voters choose in the ballot box, the democratic deficit is still very much alive and kicking.

    Let’s be clear: Scotland elected a single Conservative MP out of 59 in 2010, and Scotland gets a Conservative led government.

    I don’t want to impose a labour Government on England against its wishes any more than I am satisfied with a Conservative government being imposed on Scotland against our expressed wishes. Independence will mean that both countries can elect governments in line with the views of each.

    The people of Scotland clearly want more powers transferred to Holyrood, but Unionist politicians are adopting the minimalist approach of Calman while rejecting meaningful change like devo-max. In that case, independence is the only game in town.

  4. My 20 year old daughter earns the minimum wage, some of her friends have found themselves in difficult circumstances,they know nothing of the Labour Party and care even less about Westminster. The second World War is too long ago to be relevant in their world but people dying in Afghanistan and Iraq are not.
    Superficial -possibly, more techy savvy,definitely,opinionated yes.
    They don’t see Scotland through a ‘national’ narrow narrative.They see difficulties in getting a job,they see institutions such as banks excluding them ,they work with financial conundrums ,you could possibly not imagine Douglas but despite their education (they were all educated under your Governments watch ) not because of it they want to live in a fairer more equal country. Not where people are constantly referred to as the poor and the vulnerable.
    If you are 20 years old ,the NHS is there,its always been there,just like the Internet.
    Douglas ,you say politics is more than about identity,its also about ideals but those 20 year olds have ideals . They tweet,talk,facebook people from all over the World and don’t see either the ‘English people ‘ or anyone else as ‘foreigners’. They want a fair crack of the whip in the area they live in ,in the country they live in but that does not mean they have a narrow nationalist view ?
    These 20 year olds are the country’s future,the ones who will not be able to buy a house,afford a pension but will pay back PFI, where is the’ progressive politics in your article ?
    By quoting that particular fight against fascism you are talking about an event last century,the same with the NHS, I would hazard a guess most 20 year olds would want to know ,what Britain is going to do NOW or in the future.
    As for the Queen or the BBC , they are a constant but not an essential if you are 20 ? How relevant were these institutions to you as a 20 year old?
    We are now possibly looking at a generation who will grow up thinking Meryl Streep is a true representation of M Thatcher where is your vision ?
    Where is your vision,your progressive politics ?

  5. This article is an erudite warning against complacency. What we have been witnessing is what the Americans dubbed the domino effect. The twentieth century saw the demise of the mulitinational state, beginning with the tragic break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia soon followed and are now sadly missed by so many of their former citizens. Now the United Kindom of Great Britain & N. Ireland is coming under attack and we must fight any separatist tendancies by fair means or foul. We must convince the electorate that it is better to remain British and work with a Conservative government from time to time than to ALWAYS have a centre-left government of our own choosing in an independent Scotland. Douglas Alexander is right when he says that we made a huge mistake evoking (yet again) the ghost of Thatcher and driving so many voters to support the SNP. We now have the unique chance of working together with the David Cameron’s Conservatives to prop up our Union during the coming referendum campaign and show the Scots that while the Tories are idealistcally not our brothers, they are acceptable as a government, even though they receive so few votes up here. We do not want to go the same way as our Austro-Hungarian friends.

    1. So ” Nigel Ranter ” you think the citizens of the former communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Yogooslavia are missing their servitude by being independant !!! and you want to fight independence by fair means or FOUL, and to have a Tory government rather than a central left one elected by the people of Scotland. Swiftly followed by the fact that the torys are more acceptable as a government even though they have not be voted in by Scotland.
      I am still confused by the Austro-Hungarian Empire ? but I am sure that many many people on far, far distant planet are behind your reasoning, and you will be a great asset to the unionist cause.

    2. Dear oh dear Mr Ranter,

      I feel that your fear of Scottish independence is getting a hold of you. Scotland was once an independent nation state and can be once again without so much as a cut finger. The UK isn’t coming under attack at all, just one part of it want’s to run its own affairs and pay its own way. I’d really like to know about more on the former states missed by their own former citizens. Hmmm, I’m not so sure about fighting separatist tendancies by fair means or foul. Many in your own party have a wish to separate Scotland from the UK, does that mean you would use fair means or foul on them? I hope not. I am a Scottish Nationalist and expect the “fair means or foul”. That just keeps us on our toes.

      I have a sneaking suspicion that the rest of the folk that visit Labourhame have an uneasy feeling with your suggestion about working with David Cameron to prop up the Union. Just for a start, if there was any real benefit to it, why would it need propping up in the first place by anyone. We would all be happy people and never entertain this silly idea of separating, would we?

      I think you would do well to go speak with an older Labour member and learn about true Labour values. Don’t forget, that’s where we nasty, despicable Scottish Nationalists learned our socialist backgrounds.

      I also think it’s high time that you looked up the word “honourable” in the dictionary. You could do with a bucket load of it.

      Kindest regards,

      David Milligan

  6. I really think it’s Labour who need to move on from nationalism here. The idea that if Scotland becomes politically independent English people will suddeny become “foreigners” is ludicrous and actually verges on something worse. Because what makes up belonging or not belonging in the modern world? What makes someone a “foreigner”? In a Europe where people can move freely what does that word even mean? Why should people have to choose a fixed identity in modern Europe in the first place? Why should they vote on that basis? My next door neighbour is Polish. Does she have to decide whether to vote for or against independence on the basis of whether she feels her identity is Scottish or British or equally Scottish or British or perhaps three quarters Scottish and one quarter British or vice versa? No of course she doesn’t – because she is neither. She is Polish.

    That doesn’t make her a “foreigner” though because she lives here and so she will have a vote in the referendum (and she will vote yes). It is actually quite comical at times – I read someone saying that they don’t want Scotland to be independent because they don’t want to go to London and feel that people there are foreigners. Well I lived in London for ten years and at least half of the friends I made there were not from the UK. So I guess they were “foreign” if you want to look at things in that way. That’s just the nature of big cities but I fear anyone who wants to go to London and not meet foreigners is destined to be disappointed!

    Labour has got to get over this whole identity politics stuff and start addressing the issues. Let’s take a specific example. Douglas says that devolution protects Scotland from the worst excesses of a Thatcherite philosophy. But it doesn’t. If we look at the welfare bill for example Scottish Labour totally accepts that devolved institutions, services and most importantly people are deeply threatened by it. That’s why Labour – not the SNP – moved a motion to say that the Scottish Parliament should not give its assent. But not giving assent can’t stop it because the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the power to stop it. That is just one example of why the Scottish Parliament and Government should have control of all policy areas in Scotland, not just some of them. That does not, of course, preclude Scotland and the UK continuing to cooperate and work together across a whole range of areas. But it would mean doing it on an equal basis. That’s what independence would mean.

    1. Perhaps Labour feel that if they support Devo-Max it will not go down well in England; therefore, they hope to defeat an independence referendum (which they mistakenly see as defeating the SNP), then pour cold water on any talk of Devo-Max. However, the debate over further powers for the parliament is taking on its own momentum. In the last two weeks Labour and their new leader Johann Lamont (who is now responsible for the entire party in Scotland and, presumably, policy) have been invisible. The debate has continued without their presence or contribution. Douglas Alexander’s contributions have rarely amounted to anything more than the mantra of “better together, poorer apart” and his repeated but vacuous calls for a new story that will set the heather alight. But there is, so far at least, no new story.

      Those who are shaping the debate are the SNP, the supporters of Devo-Max, and the EU haters of the Tory press who see getting shot of Scotland as an opportunity to withdraw from the EU. The most poisonous language has come from the latter group – with Scots likened to “unruly teenagers” and called “stroppy” (see Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent: Time to Call the SNP’s Bluff, from last year, or from last week, Melanie Phillips’ “Time to stop throwing cash at the Scots” where she actually calls for an end to “appeasement”. There’s a war time metaphor for you). Other commentators have offered us post-apocalytpic scenes of Scotland similar to Alan Clements “Rogue Nation” (a distant relation of Douglas Hurd’s and John Osmond’s “Scotch on the rocks”). The problem with these writings is they don’t deal with the issues. And neither does Douglas Alexander. We are still forced to accept Tory policy despite only 1MP being returned from Scotland. Is Labour’s position now, to echo Ed Balls: “They say cut backs, we say we agree.”

  7. I believe we can all agree with your final statement that “narrow nationalism is the wrong path for Scotland”, there is no place for it in the modern Scotland. At present, Westminster constrains what Scotland can achieve by reserving many of the wider issues, such as foreign affairs, defence and many natural resources. It is time for Scotland to widen its horizons and take its place on the international stage. Independence is the natural state for a country.

  8. Its difficult to know where to start with this. I think Scotland should join the World, I cannot see how this is a “narrow” ambition, especially with the growing isolationalism in certain quarters down south. “Foreigners” is surely a state of mind. My brother has lived in Canada for 40years, I dont regard him as foreign. My wife worked in France for many years and we have many French friends, none of whom we would regard as foreigners. I have relatives and friends in England. My relationship with them would remain the same after Independence.
    Douglas echo’s Milibands call to rally round the BBC,NHS and Defence as a centrepoint of the Union.Scotland not get a good deal from our BBC licence fee. This is important, as people in England have very little idea of who we are, our culture ,history and seem to base there view of us now, to the Unionists 40year anti-SNP propaganda. The NHS is diverging as the years go on, with first Labour and now the Tories intent on market disciples coming to the fore in England.As private funding comes to England, Barnett will cut Scotlands funding.
    Our share of Defence spending is surely indefencible yet Labour seems quite happy with it. Does Labour think we should get a per-capita share?
    While Devolution gave a degree of political autonomy, it has given us no fiscal tools to rebuild our industrial base and left us a the mercy of whoever rules at the Treasury. It apparently costs 16% more to fund the same services in Scotland as England. The Tory party are intent on cutting spending in Scotland to the average in England but Labour is totally silent on fighting Scotlands corner on this.

  9. There are two years to go of this debate and already after little more than two weeks there have been several articles on what Scottish Independence, or Devo-Max, would mean for the rest of the UK. Labour MP for Torfaen, Paul Murphy, a former Welsh and Northern Ireland secretary, has also called for devolution for the English regions. There is concern that with the number of Welsh and Scottish MPs due to be cut, Westminster will take on a stronger sense of English identity. In fact, if Scotland does become independent, there will be 550 MPs left, 510 representing English constituencies. In such circumstances, does the English national interest become the UK national interest? There are many who believe this is already the case and this in part has fuelled the devolution debate in Scotland.

    A leader in the Guardian a week or so ago argued that rolling out devolution to England and Wales could be an opportunity to “forge stronger and better institutions from which a modernised version of the UK can be built”. There have been similar debates in the North East, with an article by Tom Rowley in The Journal looking at how the North East is facing a squeeze from Scotland and the South. Mr Rowley worries that cutting representation from Scotland and Wales could mean fewer Labour governments, leaving the North East exposed to Tory policy – an incentive to seriously consider a regional assembly, one might think. One of the driving forces of devolution in Scotland was just this problem – should Scotland suspend its social and political aspirations until such a time as the South votes Labour again?

    The kind of Labour party you get is determined by winning over these swing-voters. Often, Labour has to dilute its policies to get into power. Mr Rowley quotes Martin Farr, senior lecturer in modern and contemporary history at Newcastle University: “The 1980s governnment was a government of the South and famously imposed the poll tax on Scotland a year earlier. It wasn’t a representative government in any way and I think that is also something which the present government shares.” There is a real fear the the North east would become isolated and a disenfranchised minority. The same fears are evident in Northern Ireland. Just last week in the Belfast Telegraph, Mary Kenny wrote of the connection “Ulster unionists” have with Scotland and wonders where they will be left should Scotland become independent. If Britain is breaking up, where does this leave an Ulster unionist identity that sees itself as Irish and British, she asks.

    Simon Hughes’ intervention this week was timely and suggests that the status quo may be decisively moving from no change to further devolution throughout the UK. Meanwhile, Labour have firmly positioned themselves behind the Tories in the no change lobby. Can Labour really suspend debate about Devo-Max for two years and then expect to come along and say, we are the natural party of devolution – sorry we’re late? Labour seem to think that winning a referendum with a clear No vote will be decisive and bring down the SNP government. I suspect most people will ride the SNP bus to whatever destination they choose to get off at. If the SNP are the only party promoting significant change, then they will be the party to benefit.

  10. Margaret Curran has gone on the record by saying she supports hikes in council tax, the re-introduction of tuition fees and prescription charges, cuts in welfare provision, cuts in education and increased privitisation of the NHS.

    It seems that only way that Scots can protect social democracy and social policy is to choose independence because the alternatives offered up by Labour, Lib Dems or the Tories are exactly the same – they are too awful to contemplate.

  11. Is this person, for want of a better description, for real?
    Whether Scotland leaves or remains in the Union the fact that the people of Scotland will remain British will not be the issue.

    Let us get things properly defined, shall we?

    The United Kingdom became an entity in 1603. The King of Scotland, (note that designation), ascended to the throne of England and became also the King of England, (note also that designation). In doing so The King of Scots, James VI of Scots, also became the King of England. Due to the Irish parliament,”Crown of Ireland Act”,1542, that established the Kingdom of Ireland be ruled by Henry VIII and his successors and the simple fact that the Principality of Wales was held as an English Princedom, all four British Isles crowns were worn on the same monarch’s head.
    The birth of the UNITED KINGDOM was 1603.

    It was not for another 103 years later that the Two Kingdoms of Scotland & England ONLY were to form themselves into, “A United Parliament of The United Kingdom of Great Britain”. Please note that the Great in Great Britain only refers to the greater, “main”, Island of the British archipelago. The TWO countries, (and only the two), drew up and signed, “A Treaty of Union”, as two equal sovereign nations. That treaty was an agreement for, THE TWO countries to share a common parliament of the United Kingdom. Neither Wales or Ireland needed to sign as they were legally part of Greater England. Then each of THE TWO countries went home to their OWN parliament and drew up and passed Acts Of Union in 1707. Thus came into being, “The Parliament of The United Kingdom of Great Britain”. The point of the King of Scots but the King of England is that the King of England owned all England, Wales & Ireland and so was sovereign of all three but the King of Scots, because of, “The Declaration of Arbroath”, were not only declared sovereign but an independent country. The king was THEIR subject and they have the divine right, (sovereignty), to choose their monarch but to also sack a monarch if they so chose.

    So the legal situation is, and Mr Douglas Alexander seems not to know, is that all the people in the British archipelago will always be the British people as the term British is a geographic term. The four British countries will always be four countries. With their inhabitants being both British and whatever their home country is at one and the same time. What will change is that the Parliament of the United Kingdom & Northern Ireland, (as it is now named), will cease to exist at the instance of Scotland’s independence. The effect will not stop there. There is no properly elected English Parliament and no persons elected as Members of Parliament that does not exist. Furthermore, The treasury of the Parliament of the United Kingdom IS NOT the English Treasury. The misnamed Bank of England IS NOT English either, it too belongs to the Parliament of the United Kingdom and that is NOT England’s but was nationalised by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

    So – back to Mr Douglas Alexander, he will be an ordinary member of the public as there will no longer be a Parliament of the United Kingdom. He will indeed still be British but will, as we all will, have the choice as to which country he wishes to also belong to.

    Is that quite clear? There is a legal difference between the United Kingdom and the Parliament of the United Kingdom. One can be ended by a change of Monarch between the two countries the other by breaking up the Treaty of Union.

    Bet that the cowards who run this site will not print this item. Like Alexander they are shutting their eyes, plugging their ears and chanting LA!LA! LA!SE2A

    1. Sorry to correct your history, but the United Kingdom was not formed in 1603.

      All that happened in 1603 was that the King of Scotland also became King of England and King of Ireland. Note that the three kingdoms remained as three separate kingdoms (sharing the same King) – they were not united into a single kingdom at that time. The Kingdoms of Scotland and England joined together in 1707 and the Kingdom of Ireland joined in in 1801.

      1. Oh! Dear Me! What do you think the word kingdom means?
        It means the realm of a King. In 1603 every realm in Scotland was held by only one Monarch. Go have a look at the dictionary.

      2. Indeed, and what some people seem to have forgotten is that the United Kingdom will continue to exist, because there is still a part of the Kingdom of Ireland within the UK.

        They seem to forget the other Treaty of Union – 1801.

    2. “all the people in the British archipelago will always be the British people”

      I’d like to see you trying to say that in a bar in Dublin.

      And trying to get out alive.

  12. I’m very surprised by Douglas Alexander’s assertion that the Scottish left overwhelmingly reject independence, as that’s not my experience at all. I can’t help but feel that this is another case of Scottish Labour naively believing their own myths.

  13. As you seem very reluctant to publish anything I say that criticise’s this article I thought I would try this.

    I dont see where Independence erects new barriers, rather its the removel of old and unfair barriers, the type of barriers that allows a government unelected by Scotland to impose their policy upon our country just as they feel like. Surely it is better to stand as an Independant Nation within the world family of nations and speaking for ourselfs, in our voice, rather than be told by someone else what we are supposed think and say.

    Would’nt you rather be the ventriloquist instead of the dummy, just for a change.

  14. I’m a little concerned about Westminster MPs becoming involved in this debate.

    Obviously, they have a huge conflict of interest; they would lose their jobs in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

    While I imagine many are honest, experience tells us that many are not. Thus, in terms of the independence debate, Westminster MPs should really stay out of it. Independence is after all a matter for Scots and ‘Scots’ (Holyrood) politicians. Westminster MPs are ‘British’ politicians, ergo their involvement is questionable in terms of ‘self determination’.

    SNP MPs are obviously exluded; they are the only people I know who work extremely hard in pursuit of losing their own jobs!

    Also, I am offended when people bring the war into it. Many Scottish nationalists died in WWI/II fighting alongside the French, the Polish, the English… Frankly, to use those who fought and died as a poltical tool is an insult to the sacrifice they made. Do not presume to know their minds.

    1. Scottish Skier-I totally agree with you on this particularly because as many of my southern Irish relatives died in World War 1 as did my Scottish relatives.

      My Irish mother even came over to England during the Second World War and worked for the war effort in a munitions factory.

      That did not prevent her from being in favour of Irish independence and when she moved to Scotland she favoured Scottish independence and voted SNP from the mid 1960s untill her death in 2005.

      She was, as must be obvious from her actions, fond of England and its people but that did not lead her to think that either the Irish Republic or Scotland should be run by Westminster.

    2. Yes, lets make sure that Scottish MPs, who have been elected by Scottish people, in a fair and free election have no say whatsoever in something which might effect them.

      Presumably because they might disagree with you?

      1. MPs are ‘UK’ politicians elected to a UK parliament. MSPs are ‘Scots’ politicians elected to a Scottish parliament. Under international law, it is for the people of the country considering independence to decide amongst themselves whether they wish to become independent. MPs have chosen to work at ‘UK’ level, i.e. they should not be involved in a professional capacity in the debate as this is questionable with respect to ‘self-determination’.

        You can’t argue that there is not a very obvious potential conflict of interest. In the event of a yes vote, Scots MPs will lose their jobs and prospects for advancement in their chosen careers, e.g. UK cabinet positions, lordships etc. Out of principle, they should really withdraw from the debate. I mean this conflict of interest is very obvious to the electorate and it could come to haunt MPs who do not acknowledge it / step back because of it. If I was an MP it is what I would do as the honourable thing.

          1. Oh, it gets better. Theres someone on the Scottish Government’s blog on the consultation who says that anyone who disagrees with Independance should leave Scotland.

          2. Hi Duncan. No, it was not meant to be sarcastic. I can do sarcasm if you wish 😉

            I have signed many conflict of interest declarations as part of my work and this is an obvious case. However, it is hardly like MPs are hiding the fact that they are Unionist MPs so a decleration is not required methinks! However, my point stands; there is a potential conflict of interest in their case which does not apply to MSPs. I imagine the electorate are well aware of this and will take it into account each time an MP speaks on the matter of independence.

        1. So just because some people have chosen to be elected to a “foreign” parliament, you dont consider them Scottish!?

          What other restrictions would you like to put on people being Scottish, and therefore deserving of having a say?

          What about the conflict of interest that says that if Scotland were to become independent, then MSPs would expect to get a pay rise to the equivalent of current Westminster MPs, as their duties would be increased commensurately?

          1. “you dont consider them Scottish”

            Ah that old chestnut! Great stuff.

            Scots MPs may be Scottish (e.g. resident of Scotland and/or born in Scotland, whatever…) but are ‘British/UK politicians’ as they have stood for election to the British/UK Parliament.

            In contrast, MSPs are ‘Scottish Politicians’ as they have stood for election to the Scottish Parliament. They might be English, Indian, whatever, but are ‘Scottish’ Politicians.

            The UK government is not the government of Scotland; it is the government of the UK. Scotland is a part of the UK but that does not make Westminster ‘Scotland’s government’ in terms of democratic representation.

            With respect to international law, it is only Scots that should decide on independence. Ergo, I would call into question the role of ‘UK’ politicians in this as that would mean ‘UK’ parliament involvement which goes against the principles of self-determination. Doug’s article above is like a guy from Virgin media telling you Virgin media is the best deal for your broadband; “Well you would say that wouldn’t you” springs to mind.

            Scots MPs of course can be involved on a personal basis as residents of Scotland, but should not in a professional capacity due to the obvious potential conflict of interest (loss of job/end of career path).

            That’s my opinion and imagine many of the electorate see this the same way. In that sense, involvement of MPs could be self-defeating.

          2. In recent days the Noble Lords Foulkes, Forsyth, Robertson, Caithness and Wallace (inter alia) have been particularly exercised, and of one mind, to throw spanners in the works of the democratically elected Scottish Government.
            This is as understandable as it is anti-democratic. After all their career opportunities in that misbegotten house of ermine would be somewhat limited.

  15. Here you go: Cut and pasted from the Oxford Dictionary.
    Note a Country is not always a kingdom. Is the USA a Kingdom?

    kingdom // n.
    1 an organized community headed by a king.
    2 the territory subject to a king.
    3 a the spiritual reign attributed to God (Thy kingdom come). b the sphere of this (kingdom of heaven).
    4 a domain belonging to a person, animal, etc.
    5 a province of nature (the vegetable kingdom).
    6 a specified mental or emotional province (kingdom of the heart; kingdom of fantasy).
    7 Biol. the highest category in taxonomic classification.
    come into (or to) one’s kingdom achieve recognition or supremacy.
    kingdom come colloq. eternity; the next world.
    till kingdom come colloq. for ever.
    [Old English cyningdom (as king)]

  16. What amazes me is that no one seems able to make a good case for Scotland to remain in the Union. What is the economic case for sticking with the Parliament of the United Kingdom? Seems to me that all Scotland exists for as far as Westminster goes is a cash cow. They have cheated Scotland even before the Treaty of Union. The Darian Expedition was not the cause of Scotland’s problem. It was an attempt to solve the problem of English hypocritical dealing. Can you deny that the English Transportation Laws were designed to rob Scotland. They were also responsible for the Wars that saw England’s National Debt being massive. The also contributed to the eventual American War of Independence. Darian was a last throw of the dice in an effort to save Scotland but the Common Monarchy ordered the Royal Navy, remember that was a scottish monarch as well as English, not to aid the Scots. The monarch also prevented the monarch’s army from aiding the settlers. Then there was the English/Dutch agreement to put up 50% of the funding but then withdrew it after the ships, crew and stores were bough with Scottish funding. Thus leaving the expedition underfunded. Can you deny it?

  17. I think Douglas Alexander is one of the better commentators about this subject and has a better way of setting out some positive cases for the union; gawd I’ve heard that phrase far too often recently!

    However, I think trying to replay the “narrow nationalism” card isn’t going to cut it anymore. Many people who support independence do so because of a number of reasons – even Douglas acknowledged that. Therefore, it is a little hypocritical to then try to claim those very same people are parochial nationalists. That card’s been played before. It’s not going to wash anymore. I could see it stopping an independence referendum; but now that we’re at that stage Labour need to start talking substance. Talk of “isms” of any kind is basically rhetoric in this day and age. The Labour party know more about that than probably anybody.

    I’m also not sure that the “Union” (certainly the word, I mean) is such a great rallying point for the No vote. I have never, in all my life, heard a normal apolitical person say they are “for the Union” “pro-staying in Britain” or something like that. It’s always, invariably, “ach we couldn’t afford it” or the more hysterical “we’d never survive!”. There’s a tacit acknowledgement that all things being equal a majority would like an independent Scotland. I’m no pollster but that is my life experience and I think it hold reasonably true. However, crucially, a large amount (maybe a majority, who knows) seriously doubt it’s viability. A large majority of the NO vote is hugely built on grudging pragmatism rather than a genuine attachment.

    That’s what would scare me if I was in the Unionist camp. Their vote is very soft; the YES vote is growing but more rigid. I think most people, even those on the Unionist side, would agree Angus Robertson is right. “the people are willing to be persuaded”.

    That’s my tuppence worth anyway. All in all, I just hope it’s a clean debate and a wee bit of positivity comes through. And some fun! Come on it’s a historic debate one way or tuther.

  18. Douglas Alexander’s way of defending the Union was to sit silent during a recent Question Time programme while Kelvin McKenzie accused Scotland of being subsidised by England. McKenzie’s comments were seized upon by the English audience many of whom made some seriously uninformed comments about Scotland’s role in the Union. Alexander did not challenge any of them, not once. His priority was to interrupt Nicola Sturgeon any time she opened her mouth while allowing Scotland to be publicly trashed.

    If Scottish Labour’s defence of the Union involves tolerating such views then they can keep it. If Scottish Labour politicians are not allowed to highlight what Scotland contributes to the Union financially in case they come over as “nationalist” then that is disgusting. If Alexander is “proud” to be British and Scottish then why did he keep his mouth shut when Scotland was trashed like this? If Labour want to sell the Union why would they be afraid to say, to the likes of the smug McKenzie and those English who choose to ignore the facts, that the reason both England and Scotland benefit from the Union is because BOTH contribute to it? Why was the path Alexander chose on QT to ignore the sum Scotland contributes to the UK economy. I’m certain he knows the figures inside out but I am alarmed indeed that he didn’t wish to discuss them. I am sure I am not the only Scot who watched that programme and was disgusted by Alexander’s decision not to defend Scotland from the biggest myth of all, that we don’t pay our way. He left it to the Nationalist present to defend Scotland. Shame on him!

  19. Oh! Dear! Mr. Alexander, if you were any more out of touch, (with the people of Scotland), you would be in the ICU. You state that the voters were not voting for the independence issues that the SNP were promising. This is belied by the very large numbers of new members signed up since then. These people were obviously not, in any way, disappointed by subsequent SNP actions. Now, I must remember not to call these SNP people nationalists for there seems to be no one more nationalistic than the Britnats of the three right wing Westminster parties. Then we have this silly, “narrow nationalist”, jibe what on earth is narrow about the SNP insistence the use of the term, “People of Scotland”, which could not be more inclusive. Have you not noticed the difference between how new incomers are integrated into the general Scottish society? In England they mostly end up in ghetto like enclaves and tend to stick with their homeland’s mores. In Scotland they disperse and within a generation we have another batch of new Scots in the gene pool. In short they become Scots and it is a two-way exchange. Remember that as far back as the English king’s expulsion of Jews in 1290 and their formal return in 1655. They were welcome in Scotland. Some of the descendants remain even yet. We had the influx of Italians that saw few Scottish places without their Italian chip shop, Ice Cream parlour or Garage. These too are now good Scottish families. A study of genetics in the Northern Isles threw up surprises when they found lots of North American genetics. These were due to the Hudson Bay Company Employees who, unlike their English counterparts, who attempted to wipe out the native, married them. The dangerous employ saw the wives and children of dead employees sent, “Home”, to the Islands. So please, Mr. Alexander, spare us the racist accusations. If you really want the truth, and I’m sure you do not, it is this. In my lifetime, going on 80 years, I have lived in a Labour Party dominated Scotland. I think that in all those years they just might have done a great deal more for Scotland than they have. Now, why not do as has already been suggested. Make a better case for Scots remaining in the Union than theSNP have made for them getting out? Attempting to snipe at the SNP and throwing your lot in with the other right wing unionist parties will see Labour go the same way as the Tories and LibDems. So just why have none of the Britnat parties made a reasoned case yet? Don’t you think you would gain far more respect from Scots by treating them in a great deal more adult way than you are at present? Scots do not like being talked down to – the days of the Scottish Cringe died out long ago. Good adult political points are the order of the day.

  20. Really you should attend to yor history.

    The, so called, Treaty of Union 1801 is not a treaty and never was. It is in truth two Acts of Union of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Briitain.
    These were/are – the Union with Ireland Act 1800 (39 & 40 Geo. 3 c. 67), an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain
    and
    The Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 (40 Geo. 3 c. 38), an Act of the Parliament of Ireland.
    the twin Acts united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The union came into effect on 1 January 1801. Both Acts, though since amended, remain in force in the United Kingdom. In the Republic of Ireland the Union with Ireland Act 1800 (that passed in Great Britain) was not formally repealed until the passing by the Oireachtas of the Statute Law Revision Act 1983. The Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 (that passed in Ireland) was repealed in 1962.

    So there you go – acts of union, not a treaty. Furthermore, you cannot make treaties with yourself. Then we have the fact that if the Scots leave the union, there is no more union as the treaty of 1707 pre-dates the two acts.

  21. Mr Alexander is out of touch with the people on the street. How do we argue the case when we don’t agree with it. The Nats are using facts against us and all we have is emotion in response. We should be looking at what we need to do if Salmond wins the argument.

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