what you get here

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!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Last Days of a Country?

My posts have been written for those outside the debate who wanted to get a detached sense of what it was all about. I remain detached – and this is perhaps why I’m not convinced by the arguments from the “Yes” camp.
And, in case some of my Scottish ex-colleagues and friends feel that this puts me into the “traitors’” camp, let me excuse myself by reminding them that my field is government – and my philosophy one of healthy scepticism.

Winning elections requires one set of skills – negotiating separation and governing a nation requires a totally different set of skills.
A question about whether one’s country should be “independent” is a different question from that of whether its leaders have the capacity needed to build a new state and negotiate it into existence….
Of course, separation is nothing new – in recent times countries with which I am very familiar such as Azerbaijan, Czechia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Slovakia and Uzbekistan have done it – not to mention Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine. But leaders of these states had none of the sort of attention focused on them which Scottish leaders will have if its voters chooses independence on Thursday……

Those responsible for the subsequent negotiations will have to spend several years of their lives exploring the precise terms of currency, EU and NATO membership – let alone of precise manner of the separation of British institutions of state into separate entities. They are only few – and only individual – they will, let us speak quite frankly, suffer from considerable stress – and be exposed to massive media exposure. Hopefully they will be able to survive it all. 
One nagging question is who will be minding the shop while all of this is going on - I've seen little comment about what this blogger called the "problem of distraction"

A question about whether one’s country should be “independent” is a different question from a question about whether Scotland should break with a corrupt political class or neo-liberalism.    

The polling stations will open the length and breadth of the mainland and islands of Scotland in just 36 hours. Only then will the arguments stop which have gripped the Scots for at least the 2 years plus since the referendum question was agreed. I would like to say this has indeed been a conversation – but this piece by my friend, Tom Gallagher, gives a different sense

It’s fairly obvious that most people made their mind up a long time ago – since when they’ve been talking past one another – concentrating their energies on those who were wavering or still undecided. I saw yesterday an interesting breakdown of voting intentions by Region which was quite fascinating but, unfortunately, I can find it. So this equally fascinating record of how the various polls have gone will have to do instead. It gives an amazing insight into the amount of money, time and energy that has been spent on polling in the past 2 years.

Those wanting to follow the last days of this nation can do no better than follow this blow-by-blow account


  1. I agree with the statement in bold, but then if we assume that a majority of the Scotts wholeheartedly wish to "break with the corrupt political class or neo-liberalism," independence is the vehicle through which they can accelerate the process. In other words, “killing two birds with one stone” is the label I would stick to this casus...

    You do have a point, with regard to upcoming difficulties, unprepared own cadres, etc. However, this is a true revolution, albeit a peaceful one, and these considerations should not be a deterrent at all. A nation that has come to the point of liberation (my own terminology) will certainly find sufficient strength, courage and resolve, in order to overcome come what may.

    All my impressions – from direct contacts and indirect sources alike – make me believe that, should they desire it as a majority, the Scottish people will easily handle all the (secondary) issues that come with national liberation. And I sincerely wish optimism to prevail, in the Highlands.

    Can’t wait to hear the outcome of Vox Populi!

  2. Good to have this sort of response, Ivan. My immediate thought is that it will not, of course, be the Scottish people who will handle the negotiations. Unless, of course, the Scottish negotiating team take the revolutionary step of directly and positively engaging the energies and skills of the Scots.
    The leaders of the Scottish government which has been in power since 2007 (initially in a minority but since 2011 with full power) has, significantly, given no indication they even understand what is meant by this. A few of the far left who support independence do understand - but have been sidelined.
    I'm very grateful for this important observation - which I will try to develop in the remaining hours......