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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Round Up

A week, a British Prime Minister once famously said, is a long time in politics.
And it’s been an extraordinary five days in British politics as the strong possibility of a Scottish vote for independence this Thursday sank home at last on an rUK public. Political leaders stopped what they were doing and rushed toScotland …….promises were made……rabbits were pulled out of the hat - little of it convincing
The Guardian blog has been giving an excellent running commentary on events for weeks – and this is their latest

Those wanting a more measured “take” on the battle should read the current issue of London Review of Books which has 15 short contributions from eminent UK writers. And also this explanation of what the media mean by the confusing term DevoMax which has resurfaced.

One thing is clear – David Cameron is in the firing line. It was he who rejected what most Scots actually want – greater devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament; it was he who rejected the option of having that as a third question on the ballot paper. If the vote is “No” he will be expected to deliver on the vague promises which have come from his camp in response to the latest polls – and whilst devolved powers to English regions may be of interest to the chattering classes there, it is not, at the moment, a vote winner. 
But resentment is building in England at the idea of concessions to Scotland. In any event, any concessions would be for the wrong reason. It’s not cash the Scots want – its freedom from neo-liberal greed. Unfortunately a “Yes” vote, ironically, would not achieve that. It’s not gone unnoticed that Rupert Murdoch supports both independence (he was tweetering about this copiously from Scottish pubs) and the Scottish leader – and that both support lower taxes for business. 
Nb Update; George Monbiot makes the point that -

For a moment, Rupert Murdoch appeared ready to offer one of his Faustian bargains to the Scottish National party: my papers for your soul. That offer now seems to have been withdrawn, as he has decided that Salmond’s SNP is “not talking about independence, but more welfarism, expensive greenery, etc and passing sovereignty to Brussels” and that it“must change course to prosper if he wins”. It’s not an observation, it’s a warning: if you win independence and pursue this agenda, my newspapers will destroy you.

I’ve tried to keep a neutral tone in the posts I’ve been making in the last month or so. After all I don’t have a vote – and last lived in the country 24 years ago. But I am a Scot – and a passionate one. But never a nationalist – nor, as I’ve tried to explain here, are my countrymen.

Most people consider that those favouring independence have the better arguments – but I have not been convinced by that. I’ve been looking at two (small) books from the left corner supporting the Yes case (which I referred to in my Sept 4 post) - Jim Sillars’ In Place of Fear II – a socialist programme for an independent Scotland and Yes – the radical case for Scottish Independence and find them very inadequate. 
Articles such as this and this are much more persuasive.

And I’m finding an intolerance in the mood which seems to have swung behind the Yes movement which reminds me of some of the reading I did on my Politics course in the early 60s at Glasgow University – particularly Canetti’s Crowds and Power (1960)
As a politician myself from 1968-1990, I was never comfortable with the emotions politics could arouse – and I sense a dangerous element in the present mood in Scotland. Coincidentally I found myself last week reading Sebastian Haffner’s amazing Defying Hitler which is an eye-witness account of a young man’s day-by-day experience of the Nazi takeover in 1933. Apparently written in the late 1930s, it was published only in 2000 after the famous journalist’s death.

Extensive excerpts can be found on this website and I strongly urge people to read them.

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