On the Vote Against Scottish Independence

We’re expecting to have some more thoughtful commentary in the next day or so from some close observers of the Scottish independence vote. On the surface, the results look more decisive than expected earlier. The margin of victory, at 55% against and 45% for, was wider than the forecast 54%/46% split. And the English press looks to be rubbing it in, with most UK media outlets showing celebratory images of the victors.

But keep a few things in mind:

1. The Scots got the full-bore TARP scaremongering treatment, including powerful corporations threatening withdrawal of operations and job losses. Media outlets virtually without exception backed the Westminster/corporate messaging

2. The pro-independence forces left themselves particularly vulnerable by not having worked through the banking/currency part of their program. That meant the economic cost of a split would be far greater than necessary

3. The ferocity of the English pushback demonstrated a belated recognition of the intensity of public sentiment in favor of independence, and the hazard that posed to the UK, particularly the risk of runs on UK banks. The fact that the officialdom deployed so much firepower to assure a victory on this vote served to legitimate not just the Scottish independence movement, but separatist movements generally

As Richard Smith stressed in an earlier post, as well as Marshall Auerback underscores in his talk below, despite this loss, the independence push is not over, and that implies an ongoing risk premium for the UK. And the Scottish separatists won important concessions on austerity and local autonomy, which were effectively bribes from England to buy votes. So the independence movement scored important gains for Scotland despite the ballot loss.

Expect this debate to come back in a few years, with more of the policy bugs worked out. As Marshall wrote:

The nationalist Pandora’s Box has been opened, and as we’ve seen in Canada, once that occurs it’s very hard to close again.‎ And the fate of the pound is one that won’t go away either.

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  1. Mareado_DeJoy

    Here in Spain there is a lot of celebration of this crushing blow to the separatist aspirations of people who should stop teaching their children Catalan. However, we have prepared plans to dissolve the autonomy (both tanks are being sent to Syria to support the French bombing effort so this is the best we can do since our economic resources are all currently devoted to generating employment) should the corrupt toadies of Pujol go ahead this evening with their rebellious plan to vote on secession.

    1. Avenue Joffre

      Trolls should have a better level; showing such a poor state of mind ( talking about tanks) doesnt make any favour to the spanish nationalism.
      Here in Catalonia we want to be ruled by ourselves and not by the spanish elites. We dont want to be under your thumb anymore, we are adults and we have collective rights as a nation. To ignore it, it will make independance a fact

  2. Clive

    To paraphrase British tabloid-ese, it’s the currency wot lost it. If a reasonably well explained and viable-sounding option for how the currency would be managed post-independence, the Yes (to devolution) vote would have won, in my opinion.

    But as rightly explored above, this isn’t the end of the matter. In fact, I’d say that the stage has been set for the next iteration. And for me, a genie has been let out of a bottle, and not before time either. That genie is the one of finance and the currency in the context of the nation state. Especially, but not limited to, Scotland, the populous is asking some pretty profound questions: What is a currency ? Who owns it ? How do you change currency-related system features in response to popular demands for change ? If it is difficult to respond to popular demands for change because of the difficulty in changing aspects of the system of currency, how are we to fix that democratic deficit ?

    More simply put, who, or what, is really in charge of whom ? I was un-characteristically scathing on Philip’s “dual running” option the other day (it wasn’t a complete non-starter, but it did need more work and it didn’t offer a pin free answer) but I like a great many others didn’t offer up anything better. But something better will have to be found.

    And there’ll be some behaviours which won’t be forgotten in a hurry — and some retribution stoked. The sight of the TBTF banks acting like sleazy crack whores threatening to switch pimps if they are worried that their potential new pimp might not be able to provide their required quantities of candy has shown their true colours to anyone who’s been paying attention. This will come back to haunt them.

    1. Moneta

      The thing is that you can’t have a well defied monetary plan before. You would have to explain where your currency would get its value, how the debt will get split and what deals you will strike with the outside world. However, the outside world does not want you to separate so they will say that they will not deal with you if you break up… your enemies will tear apart every little punished detail of your plan.

      Nobody knows how the negotiations will go after the breakup…. and with a 50% divorce rate most people intuitively get that.

        1. Clive

          Yes, all that would definitely happen. Sometimes in giving an explanation, you give your opponents a stick to beat you with.

          But you can now argue — as a fact — that not giving any detail results in the continuation of the union. I think any politician who goes to the voters and says, in effect, “trust me on this; we might not have worked it all out yet, but don’t worry, it’ll be fine” either has to be very charismatic and plausible or is doomed to fail in a similar fashion.

          I’m not saying such politicians can’t be found. I remember watching President Obama’s (first) inauguration and thinking, great, now we really can have some hope and change. And I’m not a gullible dimwit, honest.

      1. Caca Milis

        This is exactly the comment that I was going to make. Well said.

        I’ve been trying to think of ways around this problem. One option is for the yes side to prepare many different plans. I think Salmond was foolish to insist that Scotland would share the pound with the UK. Voters know that there is no way that he could possibly guarantee that. Instead, he should have put that forward as one option, ‘pending negotiations.’ Another is to establish the Scots’ own currency, ‘pending negotiations.’ Or join the euro, ‘pending negotiations.’ And all variations of the above. Show the electorate that they have thought this through carefully. And bog the no side down on the minutae of various plans. Their objections to different aspects of different plans are bound to contradict each other, thus reducing the no campaigners’ credibility. But I think that the yes side failed to communicate with any real force that it is in the establishment’s interest that Scotland have a stable currency settlement and the no side should have been drawn on this fact. The yes side correctly pointed out the hysterical scaremongering of the no campaign, but did not sufficiently explain why it was hysterical scaremongering.

        1. EmilianoZ

          I’m sure the Russians would have shared their rubles with the Scots, if asked. Russians are naturally generous people.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Lots of things require multiple attempts.

          NAFTA was passed only the second time.

          The same with bailing out banks.

          I remember some countries had to vote again in order to join the Euro.

          If big money is for it, we will see another independence vote in, say, 3 months.

          If not, maybe they get another chance in 3 decades.

        3. davieh

          Not only did Alex Salmond and the white paper set out a range of options on currency, Alistair Darling admitted In an interview months previously that a currency union would be best for the UK and for Scotland. It would have happened, it was a bluff and it was one Alistair Darling asked the treasury to make. The whole thing stank and everyone online knew it, but the BBC were nothing more than a British government mouthpiece and too many people bought it.

          I’ve already written to the electoral commission, Ofcom and the European international elections board but I doubt anything will happen. Scotland’s future was stolen by state media and fear. Some example to set for Putin eh?

      2. hunkerdown

        In other words, you have to treat them as a potentially imminent *adversary*, exactly as *they* are treating you.

      3. Glenn Condell

        ‘You would have to explain where your currency would get its value’

        From the full faith and credit of the Scottish government, representing the Scottish nation, composed of the Scottish population – now and into the future. A hardy and famously canny breed of people not without resources natural and intellectual, with educational leadership and industrial capacity, and best of all, a currency now not tethered to and drained by City rapacity and corruption, an instrument of a nation rather than a financial cabal, a social nutrient rather than a ball and chain IOU.

        Surely there would be takers, particularly in the brave new multi-polar, non-USD denominated world we see taking shape around us, despite (and partly because of) America’s frenzied attempts to prevent this existential threat.

        Reminds me of Iceland’s default; the sky will fall in!! well, for a moment anyway, then investors with an eye for vehicles not saddled with unpayable debts tend to sneak in on the ground floor…

        1. Moneta

          The no camp would quickly destroy this argument by saying that a large number of companies would move out and you would be left with peanuts…. and they would actually be backed by many firms.

        2. Moneta

          I agree with you but chances are a new country will not start printing benefit cheques from day one. It’s a big risk for probably 50% of the population. A risk they will take when those benefits disappear… what could very well happen over the next decade.

  3. Mark P.

    ‘Expect this debate to come back in a few years, with more of the policy bugs worked out.’

    Except there will be somewhat less oil then.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The age breakdown is what matters. The youth voted for independence and seniors voted for staying. Despite the parroting of a misunderstood line about radicals turning to conservatives as they age and then cranks as seniors, voters rarely change their minds. The conservative 50 and 60 year Olds today were the young people who loved Reagan.

      Even with less oil, what does Labour, Libdems, and the Tories offer to the young people? Labour unleashed Gordon Brown which demonstrates they don’t care or get why they are out of power. Much like the Democrats confident that minorities and young people will learn their lesson for sitting out and continued with business as usual, Labour is not going to change anytime soon.

      I would be shocked if Scotland is in the UK in ten years. Depending on the outcome of next year’s election or even if the LibDems bolt early, it might happen sooner.

      1. Synopticist

        The yes vote got 51% among those aged 16-24, so it’s hardly overwhelming.
        There’s little reason to think there will be another vote within the next 10 years at the very least. Referenda are extremely rare in the UK.

        Anyway, personally, I’m fu*kin delighted. I’m British first, English second, so my country would have disappeared.

                  1. paul

                    Well whatever you wantguv and lord ashcroft of belize are hardly people I’d trust.
                    I accept the result, but I have a little trouble with the margin.
                    Those non exit polls look like pr to justify that margin.
                    Postal vote fraud is pretty popular in these isles and there were an awful lot of postal votes.

        1. Tiercelet

          “I’m British first, English second, so my country would have disappeared.”

          Nah, you’d still have had Wales to kick around.

        2. Jack

          Britain/UK isn’t a country. It’s some weird, overarching monstrosity, undemocratic in its origins and largely disconnected from the will of the people to this day. You don’t have a Constitution guaranteeing inalienable rights or a system of Federalization giving member states a large degree of autonomy, like the United States or the Russian Federation. It’s also, and always has been, a fundamentally English entity. There is no functional difference between your English patriotism and what you think is your British identity. For gods sake, even much of what is passing for Scottish national character (short kilts, Highland games) is an English creation meant to instill a docile, subservient culture after they ran all the Highlanders out in the 18th century. There’s a reason animosity towards the English, both genuine and as a constant source of humor, exists to this day, especially in Scotland.

          This is the beginning of the last gasp of a foul, imperialist entity that has been a blight on the world for centuries. Just as its former colonies achieved independence, the desire to be genuinely free has finally come to the home island. Everyone is realizing that Westminster is filled with out of touch assholes who don’t actually represent them. And unless that changes, which it won’t, the movement for ever more local autonomy will only continue to gain traction.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The next 10 years?

          If Big Money wants it, it will be back tomorrow (I am on one knee as I predict this).

      2. leroguetradeur

        The age breakdown is what matters. The youth voted for independence and seniors voted for staying.

        No, the geographical breakdown is what matters. The country as a whole is solidly in favour of union, but Glasgow and Dundee have a majority for independence. Interestingly the other large city, Edinburgh, favours union.

        The younger vote is split almost down the middle, 51% to 49%. Even Salmon’s own constituency voted against it 60-40.

        What you have to imagine is this. Imagine that Glasgow and Dundee were a little larger and had higher turnout. The other areas have a little lower turnout in the same ratios as Thursday.

        Now you would be arguing that despite the fact that 28 out of 32 council areas voted to stay, their view should be overruled by the two urban areas.

        This is what is not going to change. It may be that attitudes in Glasgow will harden for independence. But the feelings of the rest of the country about independence, yes and about Glasgow too, are not going to change enough to drive a change.

        I would be shocked if Scotland is in the UK in ten years.

        It will be. The only thing that would take it out would be a minority armed coup.

        1. proximity1

          I have yet to read anyone explain how the interests of a clearly minority rentier-class in Scotland, having, of course every reason to prefer to vote “No,” somehow carried off a referendum in which some 86% of the total of those eligible and registered to vote ( of 97% ), cast votes and yet resulted in an outcome (55% “No” / 45% “Yes” ) which was diametrically opposed to the obvious interests of the vast majority of that 86% of participating voters.

          All we’re left with is the assumption that a campaign based on seeking to invoke fear in and on heaping contempt and ridicule on the “Yes” campaign, somehow succeeded in getting people hard-done by Westminster’s rule to vote for that continued rule–or, we’re supposed to think that last minute offers of more devolved powers were actually effective–that a gang of bullies from London, suddenly sent bouquets of flowers to the wavering electorate and that electorate was enchanted by them.

          If that is the case, then, just as Rosario has pointed out, in these technological times, the prospects for genuine democratic rule by informed consent of the governed are essentially finished, it would seem.

        2. paul

          Yes, you’re only talking about 45% of the voters. in a referendum it doesn’t rmatter where they come from.
          Anyway, who knows how attitudes to independence will change in the future?

  4. dSquib

    All fair points I think. Currency issue I think was more answerable than it seemed. But one of those things where what England would do assuming Yes is important. Where more extortion came into play, so a Catch-22 of sorts for Salmond and co.

    Cameron already backtracking somewhat it seems on promises. Alex Thompson says language already shifting to redrawing of broader “constitutional map”. Seemingly a response as much to UKIP. Also northern UK papers making devolution calls of their own because of all this. Basically, I think New Labour and now the Tories still have no idea what they’ve done. Ed Miliband is as yet uninspiring and supposing he really wants to roll back austerity, supposing it would be anything more than a temporary easing up, they would need a prolonged era of at least moderately responsive government if they just want this all to go away.

    BBC reported dutifully on what “the markets” thought of all this, what blessed RBS was thinking, what America wants, what NATO wants.

    Though my family is English I was born in Scotland and spent most of my life there, and I’m not old. I was a kid when devolution happened. May go back one day if my wife is game. It would be nice if it was independent by then. Expected this result but was mainly sad there was a lack of a point where it looked iffy for No. But elections/referendums like that especially these days. There was a definite change in atmosphere when the big Yes vote for Dundee came in, in the BBC studio, but that fun was short lived. Now the narrative is “decisiveness”. The existence of pre-event Yes hype might mean no more referendum for a longer time than you’d even expect, because that “decisiveness” will look more than it is.

  5. Mark P.

    ‘Expect this debate to come back in a few years, with more of the policy bugs worked out.’

    Except there’ll be less oil then, won’t there?

    As you yourself point out, “pro-independence forces left themselves particularly vulnerable by not having worked through the banking/currency part of their program.” This really was the time for the Scots to make their leap. That Salmond and the SNP came off looking like chancers who didn’t bother to do the hard preparatory work necessary to carry through their program — not unfair, think of how you feel about Obama and Obamacare’s rollout — turned at least a few Scots off them.

    The job now is to make Cameron’s Tories keep their promises, with nothing in writing. Aneurin Bevan’s words on ‘Why Not Trust The Tories?’ apply —

    “So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now … they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were.”


    1. Moneta

      This vote happened because the situation has deteriorated. It will not get better because the credit crisis issues were not dealt with and just papered over. Benefits will get cut AND from now on a lot of money will be spent on this yes-no issue… money that could be spent on bettering lives. So the downward spiral is here for sure.

      My bet is that it will now simmer and probably boil over within the next few years.

  6. proximity1

    RE: “Expect this debate to come back in a few years, with more of the policy bugs worked out”

    To which Tory Establishment may reply: “There was a referendum on this. The Scots voted against independence. End of story.”

    RE: “The job now is to make Cameron’s Tories keep their promises”…

    I wonder–given all we know about them–why should anyone expect that? Why should they do anything at all about those “promises”? Nothing specific was indicated, just “more powers”. The establishment are the original “I’ll respect you in the morning” crowd. And, now, something around 10% of “Better Together” voters are going to learn some lessons about trusting in promises of “devo max” or about the real meaning of who is intended as being “better” in the phrase “better together”. For me, it’s obvious that the party which is “better” in “better together” is the party of the ruling elite, not the ordinary voters who were cynically conned into thinking that the phrase also intended to refer to them as also “better together.”

    As we’re now going to see more clearly, the elites shall demonstrate that “We were referring to ourselves being ‘better’ together with you lot, not you lot being ‘better’ together with us. Sorry for any confusion.”

  7. dSquib

    There will be less oil in Scotland, as elsewhere. The oil is drying up as Scotland stays in the UK too. I’d hope Scotland look more to Denmark than Norway as a model, if there must be one.

    But one other thing. Though I don’t generally assume Labour will be more likely to “keep its promises” than the Tories, it was Scottish Labour that was the most important party in getting No a victory. There is the expectation amongst a mass of Labour No voters that Ed Miliband, or the next Labour leader, will roll back austerity and halt the NHS privatisation efforts if elected. If that doesn’t happen, Scotland is most likely gone come next referendum.

    1. proximity1

      …”the expectation amongst a mass of Labour No voters that Ed Miliband, or the next Labour leader, will roll back austerity” …

      They might as well now “roll back the austerity” which ensued from October’s 1929 Wall Street crash for all the good it should do its victims for Miliband and Co. to “roll back” austerity. Try rolling back a grave. Wednesday, while Scots brought the referendum campaigns to a close, “Sonia Powell died in the back of the ambulance after waiting for more than half an hour outside Morriston hospital near Swansea….”

      This is a war of attrition. Talk of “roll-backs” is laughable.

    2. TheCatSaid

      Yes, it’s being reported that the Labour party needed to roll out Gordon Brown to give a high-profile speech in his best rabble-rousing style in order to get Labour party members to vote No.

      1. jkljlk

        in all fairness, the “independence” purported by the Independence Party was one of only nominal independence: no independent currency, no autaturk, no social democracy. What was the point? As Galloway has mentioned, an “independent” Scotland would be a weaker left-politic: more machinations from the City’s financial arm, less GDP, less ability to fight off the Tories in England.

        1. proximity1

          Originally, in the BCNA (British Colonies of North America) the idea was separate independent sovereign colonies, and neither a confederation of sovereign states nor, much less, a confederation of states in a national union. Questions of trade, land policy, taxes, etc. would be up to each former colony’s adult men–mainly land-owners– to decide for themselves. Hence, the landed gentry of each colony, then the only qualified voters in their various colonial assemblies, would certainly have remained in full political control. Slaves, where there were such, would certainly have remained slaves–just as they did for about the next 78 years. Women would remain clearly second-class citizens, without votes or property in their own names. One could then ask, by the same token, “What, then, could, would and should have been the point of breaking from rule by Westminster?”

          That’s your question? Seriously?

          What’s ever the point of trying to throw off one sort of illegitimate rule? Why not simply abolish the Commons and revert to rule by Lords and Monarch in joint consultations?

  8. proximity1

    Elites, (like Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin) smiling and clinking cocktail glasses,
    ” Well, yes, here’s to ‘Democracy’– still no threat. Cheers! “

    1. Clive

      If you’re not careful though, you end up sounding like the French and Republic of Ireland governments who on recept of a vote not to their particular liking return to ththe electorate again in the hope (with even more encouragement) that the next time they’ll vote the “right” way. Right being the response which is okay according to your preferences.

      1. proximity1

        Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand your point. The Scots, with more than a year for the most careful and extensive attention to it, were offered the occasion to vote on a simple six-word proposition “Shall Scotland be an independent state?” After many months, and with the virtual entirety of the mainstream press joined in an unrelieved torrent of unanimous favor for the “Better Together” camp– a camp which waged a battle for public opinion that consisted of one and only one argument: fear of uncertainty— the proponents of independence fell, reliably, victim to that fear of uncertainty. The logic of independence failed. People were not able to reason that, if they were fit to determine this question by their own majority vote, they were also, by definition, fit to determine any and all other political issues which should come afterward. Instead, they allowed themselves to be persuaded to believe that a tiny and selfish elite centered in Westminster, one which was from long practice completely used to taking the Scots for granted, were the better suited to decide issues of vital importance about Scotland’s political fate than the Scottish people themselves. Apparently, it never occurred to the Scots who voted in favor of “Better Together” that, by choosing independence, they’d still have, along with it, the right to revert at any time to a set of political and economic policies which were fashioned upon the very same principles and practices which Britain’s Westminster government followed. That, if needed or desired, the Scots could decide to re-adopt any silly and failed set of neo-liberal nonsense that, in their wisdom, they might choose, even as an independent nation. What they could not do is secure for themselves a regular and dependable choice in the matter which was for them and them alone to determine–from election to election, over the years. Now, they remain under Westminster’s bootheel, dependent for the welfare of their approximately 8% of the national population on the majority of the remaining 92 percent’s consent and good-will. Failing it, the Scots now remain condemned to accept whatever the hell they may get from the generosity of an elite which have proven, if they have ever proven anything, that they are not generous.

        What’s clear is that there is now no reason to expect that there shall be any “next time” for any except those who are today so young that they shall not remember anything about yesterday’s vote when “next time” comes.

        1. JR

          People vote in favour of many things with which I disagree, but the one thing we need to remember is this: decisions with which we disagree are a result of the same process as decisions with which we agree. It doesn’t come much clearer than “Should Scotland be an independent country?” does it? The way we got to today’s result may have been messy and confrontational. Voters may or many not have been ill-informed (though I’d note that, if you blame ‘the media’ for the result then, by definition, you’re saying that the Scottish voters are unqualified to evaluate what they’re being told by the media and to make up their own minds… i.e. that they’re idiots). But it was a clear vote on a clear question. ‘Yes’ lost by a significant — though far from overwhelming — margin and that is the end of the story for now.

          I doubt that the Tories really will be able to row back fully on their devo max promises. The reason Cameron is now talking about a ‘wider constitutional debate’ is that the rest of the country has (finally) woken up to the fact that Westminster really does not represent ‘the people’ (I voted in favour of PR but the rest of the country disagreed with me). England and Wales are not going to be happy seeing more powers going to Scotland while they get nothing, and there are already demands coming from a number of regions to this effect.

          There seems to be, for the first time, serious talk of ‘English votes on English issues’ and that is the ‘wider debate’ that is being mooted. The Tories might be expected to be against this, but I think they’ve realised that offering an ‘English’ option actually hurts Labour more because control-freaks like Blair and Brown used Scottish MPs to pass policies in England for which there wasn’t actually widespread support. From the Tory perspective, the safe ‘Home Counties’ MPs can be expected to provide support for Tory policies when the Tories are in power and to act as a potentially blocking opposition to when they are not. Since they’re facing a major loss at the next election, they can offer this further devolution as a way to hurt Labour and protect the interests of their voting base in the South.

          Yorkshire, Cornwall, and the other regions are all making noises about regionalism that, frankly, haven’t been heard in ages, if ever. Shame that we did away with the RDAs since they’d provide a good vehicle for delivering this. Regardless, I feel like everyone in the UK has realised that a return to the status quo is unlikely. Failure to deliver meaningful reform would give Salmond an excuse to hold another referendum because the leaders of all 3 main parties have made explicit commitments to offer devo max and there are too many people paying attention now for them not to do something meaningful in this regard.

          1. proximity1

            RE: “decisions with which we disagree are a result of the same process as decisions with which we agree. …”

            Consider your comment in the light of some controversy in which two opposing camps must choose a course. Both, of course, shall apply some sort of more or less similar ‘decision process’, but, in doing that, there is simply nothing that does or can ensure that through this similar process each of the two camps possess and use anything like a similar command of the actual facts concerning the controversy–is there?

            Therefore, by similar reasoning, two camps can come to opposite views of the best course–one camp for reasons based on an appreciation of the facts of the matter, the other, for “reasons” which have little or nothing to do with those facts.

            As I see it, the Better Together camp had to reason: Our post-break currency situation is unclear. Westminster declares unequivocally that it shall not cooperate with us, shall not share the GBP with us, that we’d be on our own if we choose independence. On the other hand, these same people also tell us that they, not we, are the ones best qualified to set the national political course in our interest–just as they do in their own. They—who stoutly refuse to cooperate with a free Scotland, want Scotland to trust them to hold its purse and regulate its coin, and, further, if only Scotland follows Westminster’s wishes and remains in the union, these same who refuse their cooperation, promise to give greater devolved powers to Scotland–after the vote is taken and it’s too late to for us to actually hold them to that promise.

            As I see it, the “Better Together” camp of Scots, not English tories, had to, at a minimum, accept such reasoning in order to argue the case as they themselves argued it to their fellow Scots. Please explain how that is not the case.

            1. hunkerdown

              Consider your comment in the light of some controversy in which two opposing camps must choose a course.

              Well, isn’t that the problem? That far too many people are willing to uncritically accept a slim majority as a mandate from heaven?

              1. proximity1

                “Well, isn’t that the problem? That far too many people are willing to uncritically accept a slim majority as a mandate from heaven?”

                Nope. That’s not the problem.

          2. proximity1

            “Failure to deliver meaningful reform” —–would mean…?

            would mean–nuthin’, zip, nada, zilch, because Westminster has just demonstrated that all that’s required to bring Scotland to heel is the right scary ingredients concerning some uncertainty. That shall never be lacking. Life, as the tories know quite well is uncertain–since it is on those terms that they accept it and deign to determine Scotland’s political course for it. They couldn’t tell Scots any better than anyone else how things are going to look in six months or twelve. Yet that doesn’t in the least slow them down in their determination to decide how things shall be.

            Given a chance to raise or fold, by a margin of 10%, the Scots folded–fearfully, needlessly. Why the hell should Westminster now take Scottish remonstrations about living up to pre-vote promises seriously? No one here has begun to offer any serious answer to that question. That “too many people paying attention now for them not to do something meaningful in this regard” is not a serious reply. The projections for the time-table on this laughable notion of rapid reform place the first draft being read in Parliament sometime in May of 2015. By then, as Cameron well knows, very few people shall still be paying attention–since that is the whole idea, after all. Westminster now has a single goal and objective: to scuttle any serious chance that the promised reforms ever come to fruition–just as, in the past, nothing more than superficial stuff has ever been devolved. The game for Westminster is not to give power away, but, rather, to keep it. Those efforts are already in the works. To suppose otherwise is the height of naiveté.

            If yesterday’s vote proves anything, it’s that the Scots can’t muster at least 50%+1 votes to defy Westminster’s doings. That’s what has just been proven.

          3. proximity1

            RE: “I feel like everyone in the UK has realised that a return to the status quo is unlikely.”

            “Return”? I remind you: the status quo has not changed since either the announcement of the referendum or since yesterday’s vote. Nothing really meaningful has changed. There was a referendum on Scotland’s becoming a separate state, yes. It failed. So, there’s been nothing from which to “return.” That fact is understood in Westminster.

            And, that said, I personally know one who has not recognised anything of the sort. On the contrary, he’s convinced that the status quo ante-referendum is now reconfirmed as a virtual certainty.

            1. hunkerdown

              Not on paper. But the *character* of the two parties has changed through the contact. The beige dictatorship has let slip its mask, like the nice-as-pie lover who shows up unexpectedly and regrettably late and gets a first taste of their lover’s less superficial principles. Scotland and a slim minority of her people now know that the Crown is the abusive husband they feared.

  9. The Dork of Cork

    Separatist movements generally wish to trade out of a national or union capitals embrace.
    They seek trade to access token money which is sort of funny.

    People believe in the power of River |Dance and subsequently put their shoulders to the wheel.

    I cannot see any parties wanting to engage in real independence as such.
    This clown is typical of the FF / SNP like corporatist belief system that they call nationalism on these Isles.

    He makes some very simple mistakes.
    Such as confusing GDP growth for a increase in real purchasing power.

    The Scots are a doomed lot but they were lucky.
    They continue to reside within the UK union 8th circle of hell (fraud)

    Ireland however entered the 9th circle in 1979 and look at us now ? (Treachery)

    The pubs have never been emptier in Ireland.
    The lack of real purchasing power is far beyond the chronic stage.

  10. John

    Like the Quebec referendums it is a once in a lifetime event. They are very divisive and takes stomach to do it again. Of course, Team EC breathed a sigh of relief. Barroso was quick to accept the results. He knows we have many, many small clannish provinces across Europe who are exploring ways to break up, which something our fearless Commissioners don’t want to admit exist.

    Here in Belgium, our nationalists were taking the Scottish vote all in. Our TV news crews rarely cover much outside of Belgium but on the Scottish vote all the channels sent teams there. Like in Scotland, we have our share of folks sitting on the sidelines warning everyone the sky will fall if Flanders decides they want to move on. Separation in Belgium looks possible, but not right away. We are still trying to decide who our next Prime Minister is going to be — after our 28th May vote. Yep, these many months later we are still sorting out how our government will be formed.

    Then there is Catalan. I visit there often and can add it is my second home. However, Catalan has had the separation itch for years and have looked for ways to do so. PM Rajoy of Spain was on TV yesterday stating the Catalans were trying to ‘torpedo’ — his words — the European integration. The Catalans made it clear they want separation from Spain, not the eurozone. Whatever. Like with Belgium and Scotland, Rajoy is using scare tactics to keep the separatists at bay. The thing about Catalan is that it will be far more difficult for them to go it alone because of the Spanish constitution.

    1. Moneta

      The Quebec referendum coincides with an economic low. The US economy took off in the early 90s. Canada a few years later and QC a little later. It coincided with an all-time low in real estate. Quebeckers have historically been a debt averse… the reasons being that the Catholic church always looked down on wealth and that they were never really brought up to participate in the monetary system like the Anglos did.

      So in 1995, neoliberalism was blooming and was leaving QC behind in the dust. Since Quebeckers are socialists at heart, this separation movement probably represented a pushback against neoliberalism without them consciously internalizing it.

      Fast forward to today… thanks to the real estate bubble, Quebeckers got suckered into debt like they have never been. Right now they feel rich because of their houses and cars so the separation issue seems dead. But cars depreciate to zero and house vales will probably drop levying a mound of debt, most of it originating from Ottawa and Toronto. When they realize they have been lured, I believe they will scream out loud and blame Ottawa (CMHC) and Toronto (banks)

  11. John

    The desire to separate is not always about economics or money as some economists point out. Nor is about anti-euro. Europe is still very clannish and culture and language plays a lot in the decision to move on. When the political boundaries were established centuries past they often ignored the differences. Ooops. Belgium is such an example. France, Germany and the Netherlands carved up the territory which is now known as Belgium back in the 1800s to create a buffer from the devastating Napoleonic wars. Naturally, French was the dominant language and culture over Flemish in the new country…. and that has been a major bur in the saddle ever since.

    1. The Dork of Cork

      You ignore the centralizing vortex of the debt money system.
      At one time this functioned at the national level.
      The Irish langauage failed in Ireland for reasons I have given before.

  12. paul

    While I am disappointed at the result,a lot of people will be harmed by the results.
    The promises made by the establishment parties will be kept, they will load up the local council (the devolved goernment) with responsibilities and starve it of funding, Our representation in central government will be removed ( an ending to the the totally spurious west lothian question) and its spending will be solely devoted to ‘preferred bidders’.
    The labour party leadership has shown it will throw everyone,including the party itself, under the bus in order to secure their own place in the establishment.
    Marshall Auerback, who I greatly admire, was talking out of his arse. People were being told their pensions were at stake, a thoughtful well worked currency option would have made no difference. After all, many prominent economists can’t get their head around it.
    We voted for a country that is safe for deutsche bank ,standard life and the twitching husk that is the royal bank of scotland.
    I can assure you that it was exciting to have experienced, and an awful ot of,mainly younger, people got to see how things actually work.
    The No campaign won by exploiting the fears of the older generation, that’s all.
    I’m sorry for everyone that not enough of us wanted to make our own decisions.
    I’ll keep wearing my yes badge until the next time.

    1. sd

      A surprising number of intelligent adults do not want to make decisions for themselves.

      I am involved with an organization with ongoing governance issues (I’ll leave it at that)

      Out of the general population of this organization, about 60% want someone else to make the decisions for them. Of the remaining 40% roughly 20% will weigh various arguments and make an intelligent decision. 10% will manipulate any situation to get what they want, damn the consequences. The remaining 10% are incapable of making any kind of decision including whether they do or do not want to make a decision.

      These numbers are rough but over the last few years, I’ve noticed a consistency that seems to parallel decision making in the US.

        1. Moneta

          I would not split that lack of decision making by gender.

          Women don’t vote no because they want others to decide for them. Many women vote no because they can’t run away from their problems like many deadbeat husbands do. In today’s world, women still have many shackles than men have. They enjoy longer lives with longer chronic ailment periods and less money.

  13. Moneta

    Quebec probably has more power as a province and the structures are already there for managing a country. Yet, the people were still very scared. Especially the 40+ women.

    We will have to see more neoliberal stripping of benefits before we see the yes camp truly take over. Right now, most people still believe they will get what has been promised.

  14. paul

    The paradox is that the less people have, what they are told they will lose is an increasing proportion of that.
    At subsistence level, you have everything to lose.

  15. craazyman

    How’s Richard Smith’s wife doing this morning? Is she inconsolable or keeping a stiff upper lip in that “British” way. bwaaak.

    Here’s the song of the day, so appropriate — a golden oldie from the heart-throb Mr. Rick Astley . . .

    If you’re an English dude married to a hot Scottish babe, just put this tune on the iPad, send it to the speakers and liven up the marriage for a half hour or so . . . before work.

    Together Forever
    by Rick Astley

    “: . . . and don’t you know I would move heaven and earth to remain together forever with you .. . .”

    sorry for the annoying 15 second commercial but it’s worth the wait.

  16. McMike

    While yet on Flodden side,
    Afar, the royal standard flies,
    And round it toils, and bleeds, and dies,
    Our Caledonian pride!

    Tradition, legend, tune, and song,
    Shall many an age that wail prolong:
    Still from the sire the son shall hear
    Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
    Of Flodden’s fatal field,
    Where shivered was fair Scotland’s spear,
    And broken was her shield!

    – Marmion, Sir Walter Scott

    Flodden http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHlbzZQgX-k


    Flowers o’ the Forest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k7c6croM-I


    But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
    Gang aft agley,
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promis’d joy!

    – To a Mouse, Burns


    Oh, this evening’s passed so quickly,
    And the music’s almost done;
    We’ve heard the piper and the fiddler,
    The singer and his song.
    The time has come for us to leave you;
    One last song before we go;
    So button up and aye be cheery
    Tak a dram afore ye go.
    Button up and aye be cheery,
    Tak a dram afore ye go.

    – Tak A Dram, Ian Sincalir

  17. Ignacio

    The scaremongering about money, bank runs,capital fligth and so on is very telling. It indicates first that we, the general public, are viewed by the political elites as a bunch of ignorants in monetary issues. And the elites are completely rigth! This is why blogs like this are so interesting to me. I learn here about financing and monetary issues (and in few other places) what I would never learn by following the traditional news outlets. I personally find that I have change my mind in many issues, and when I contrast mine with others’ opinions, wow, sometimes it looks like we live in different planets. This is not to say that now I know a lot about these issues. I am still an ignorant but I think I can appreciate more precisely what games are playing around me.

    1. RUKidding

      Feel similar to you. I’m not well educated about finance and economics but know a little. One has to really spend time on blogs like this or similar to get at least a gist of what’s going on and how the rabble are being ripped off and played and gamed by the 1%. While a lot of “stuff” now seems bloody obvious to me, it clearly is not at all obvious to the majority who duly partake only of the M$M, if anything.

      I, too, often feel like I’m on a totally different planet to some of my friends and acquaintances. It’s because they are still drinking the Kool Aid (and liking it), while I have moved on. I do what I can to try to educate those I know. Some are more willing these days to learn the truth, but some resist it mightily. One has to want to know.

      And the beat down goes on…

      1. OIFVet

        “I, too, often feel like I’m on a totally different planet to some of my friends and acquaintances. It’s because they are still drinking the Kool Aid (and liking it), while I have moved on” Hear hear, that’s me with my friends. White collar “liberals” who still think that Obama and the democrats are genuine leftists. None of them want to know the truth though, they don’t want any uncomfortable cognitive dissonance to deal with. There has been a related decrease in the instances I am invited to the get togethers, no one wants a skunk disturbing the ambiance at the wine-and-cheese from Costco night .

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘ … a belated recognition of … the hazard posed to the UK, particularly the risk of runs on UK banks …’

      Runs on banks result from depositors’ worries about their solvency, or at least their liquidity. What risk did Scottish independence pose to UK bank solvency, which is fairly robust at the moment?

      None, really.

      Highly publicized shipments of banknotes ‘in case of a run’ allowed English authorities to feign prudence, while encouraging the Scottish public to work out the fear-based hook for themselves: ‘your banks might go under, and we’re leaking the rumours needed to make it happen on purpose.

      If sufficient evidence could be collected, the B of E’s actions might even qualify as terrorism under UK law.

  18. EoinW

    The result is the best thing that could have happened to the Independence movement. The UK economy is only going to get worse and likely collapse. Better to happen on London’s watch than Edinburgh’s. This will be the motivation for a successful YES vote in the future. Just as the Quebec separatist movement will revive when the Canadian housing bubble pops. Just look at Ireland, gone to hell economically and no one to blame but themselves.

    The demographic breakdown of the vote was predictably pathetic. 65+ age group voting NO 73%. I guess Baby Boomers destroying the economy by living for today and selling out tomorrow isn’t good enough. They have to finish the job by denying the younger generations the opportunity to change course.

    1. Ken Nari

      Most “Baby Boomers” are still under 65. Only those born in 1946-1949 are over 65.

      Most people over 65 are of the “Greatest Generation” or the “Lucky Few.”

      Of course, it was predictable. The elderly shoulder the greatest risk. They own the houses that were predicted to drop in value, they depend on the British-based pensions. Revolution is always a young man’s game,

      Nonetheless, by your figures one in four geezers voted yes. Let’s call them them the Gutsy Group.

      1. paul

        Most people over 65 are of the “Greatest Generation” or the “Lucky Few.”
        And with the advantages they had they’ll probably live longer than successor generations, so their fearful hands will remain on the tiller.

        1. LifelongLib

          It’s not the advantages THEY had. Would you have wanted to be young in the 1930s-40s? We who came along later denied ourselves the advantages we should have had, or more accurately, the better off (at least in their own minds) among us denied them to the less well-off .

        2. Propertius

          And with the advantages they had they’ll probably live longer than successor generations, so their fearful hands will remain on the tiller.

          Which advantages were you thinking of? Spending your childhood in the Great Depression? Fighting in WW II? We surrendered our patrimony to fast-talking financiers – that’s our fault, not theirs.

          1. paul

            If you were born in 1945, you wouldn’t be fighting in ww2 or enjoying the great depression. You would grow up in a time of generally increasing incomes, social security,full employment, healthier food etc.Maybe not all milk and honey but a lot,lot better than previous generations.

            1. proximity1

              And, at the age of about twenty-two years, you’d be smack in the cross-hairs of the Vietnam war draft.

              “We surrendered our patrimony to fast-talking financiers – that’s our fault, not theirs.” is roughly correct–depending on how “we” is defined.

              1. paul

                Did I say it was all milk and honey? I just pointed out it was a time of rising ecpectations. I think from the 70’s onward the prospexcts ad experiences got worse.
                In the large, was there a better time to be born that century?
                My parents were born in the twenties/thirties and they appreciated the changes here, pretty poor all of the time but they had jobs and their children got a national health service, social security was improved and they were all educated through general taxation.

  19. leroguetradeur

    You have not looked at the map of results. You will see that independence commitment is confined to Glasgow and Dundee. This is about a strongly divided Scotland, where some large urban populations are strongly in favour, and this balanced the popular vote, but if you think about it in terms of regions, it was a landslide against.

    Suppose this were the US Presidential election. Suppose one of the parties won 46% of the popular vote and lost every state except New York and Illinois, some of them with 60-70% of the vote going against them, in an 85% turnout.

    What would you be saying?

    You do not realise what the SNP is really about. But people outside the two cities do, and they voted no.

  20. leroguetradeur

    Not to mention by the way that the divide is so great and so strong that it is highly likely that some of the country would have refused to join an independent Scotland and demanded to be allowed to become a Crown Dependency like the Isle of Man. Salmond would not just have presided over the breakup of the UK, but over the breakup of Scotland too. For many Scots, Glasgow is alien, objectionable and rather frightening.

  21. Brooklin Bridge

    Did something almost happen or was that an advertizement blitz? TPTB have so much of the Power part now that I wonder.

    Assuming it was a close call, the independence movement won’t be the only ones who prepare for next time. Security around the world is going to get tighter than ever. When a slave escapes (in this case is caught) the plantation turns everything upside down for months.

  22. OIFVet

    I am not sure this vote decided anything. Some promises have been made to sway people towards ‘NO’, but watching Sky last night I got the distinct impression that some in Westminster will do their best to make sure that the promises are not delivered on, or that what is delivered will be as meaningless as possible. For that matter, nothing was put on paper, and the wild swings of Cameron in the past week indicate that no one knows what exactly has been promised to Scotland to secure the ‘NO’ vote. Which is only fitting, the moniker “Perfidious Albion” exists for a reason. Labor went out all the way for Westminster, I think they are toast eventually. Good riddance, couldn’t happen to more deserving bunch. And the Scots themselves? Well, they were fear-mongered in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition, and some blinked. Humans have the need to feel secure imprinted deep down, and associate the unknown with potential danger. Which, of course, the ever-helpful media duly helped with. I think that many ‘NO’ votes will be bitterly disappointed, eventually.

    Perhaps though, Renton was right: ” It’s SHITE being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We’re ruled by effete assholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference!” http://youtu.be/wqgkZDbe4Xk

    1. leroguetradeur

      You haven’t looked at the map. It was not Scotland who voted for or against. It was Glasgow and Dundee who voted for, quite narrowly but they have large populations. The rest of the country, including Edinburgh by the way, voted against, largely because they are distinct and separate from those urban centres. People need to get what happened clear. Its not what you all think. Its not ‘Scotland’.

      1. OIFVet

        Do you need a refresher course on how democracy is supposed to work? It is the people vote that counts, not the size of the territory. And the number of people who want independence has markedly increased since 1979. That despite the gain of their own Parliament. The number will only go up, regardless of the silly thing you people have about the Glaswegians. Don’t despair though, when Scotland does eventually go indy you can try to install the same anti-democratic system we have here in the US, with a House of Lords cum Senate, where Wyoming has the same power as California, and thus the hicks get to lord it over the urban centers and make sure governance is gridlocked.

        1. leroguetradeur

          Do you need a refresher course on how democracy is supposed to work? It is the people vote that counts, not the size of the territory.

          We need to accept that there is a distinct population mainly in Glasgow, but also in Dundee, who are by a majority though not a landslide by any means in favour of secession. It was 54-46 in Glasgow.

          Now, because its a big city, this is quite a lot of people. But Scotland is not Glasgow. Its a big place with lots of small communities all over it. Just as America is not New York City, or even New York State.

          If you look harder, you’ll find that this is not about social justice or about freedom from England. Its about a real division in Scottish society. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, is the home of an almost Northern Irish degree of sectarianism. Have you ever heard of Celtic and Rangers?

          If independence had carried, you really would have had parts of Scotland trying to secede from the new state. What would you feel then? Should Shetland be allowed to go? If Scotland should, why not?

          The question of independence and the right to secede is much more complicated than most of the commenters here admit. What do you make for instance of US Southern secession? Seceding areas are not always trying to bring about sweetness and light and emancipate themselves and their people from right wing evil neo-liberal regimes and take them into the secular heaven of Scandinavian social democracy. And Glasgow is not trying to do that either, as the rest of Scotland knows very well.

          On the whole Scotland is better off where it is. Partly because the wilder spirits of nationalistic localism will be restrained by being in the Union. Many of my acquaintances in England positively do not want increased English devolution to the English regions for precisely this reason. They want some central power to restrain the regional bullies and coteries, and at the moment the only thing they see as being on their side is Westminster. At least some of the time.

          Well quite a lot of communities in Scotland feel that way too.

          1. OIFVet

            Sectarian in hiding, quite likely a Rangers fan. That’s basically my takeaway. Sankt Pauli fan here, so go Celtic! But to answer your question, yes, Shetland should go its own way too if that’s what its people want. I am an anarchist, to me the only legitimate authority is the local authority as expression of the people’s will. You won’t impress me with sermons about the role of central authority, particularly Westminster, in bottling up the spirits of nationalism. It does when it suits it, it fans the flames when it suits it. Divide and conquer is what made Britain an empire, and the wars and bloodshed in its former colonies is a fitting legacy of its tactics.

            1. LifelongLib

              Here in the U.S. it’s a fact that the national government has been more protective of the rights of minorities than state/local governments have. Is that just a historical accident? A larger nation may help lift impoverished localities out of poverty. Would you prefer that not happen?

  23. L.M. Dorsey

    It wasn’t until I was waiting for the counting to start that I thought, “Oh, wait, really? A simple majority is all that’s needed? Yikes.”

    1. proximity1

      Anything ‘more’ than a ‘simple majority’ on such a question is, by definition, less than democratic. Democratic decisions are taken by simple majorities. Super-majorities place a determinative role in the hands of a minority. This is Democratic Political Theory 101.

      1. hunkerdown

        All that 50%+1 democracy as a policy ever leads to is civil wars. If anything less than a plurality is “less than democratic”, then democracy cannot provide useful outcomes for all citizens and therefore should be critically re-evaluated with an eye to replacement.

  24. Banger

    After the dust settles we are faced with a singular fact–despite the fear mongering and the UK’s version of the Mighty Wurlitzer 45% of Scottish votes voted for independence and no for the UK. That’s a solid block of people who will drag their feet and find ways to defy the national government in numerous small ways. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I never expected a “yes” vote–not because of the monetary snafu–that would have worked itself out in negotiations but because, unless there’s rampant disorder the vast majority of people do not want change particularly in today’s confusing age where we mostly feel confused and vulnerable. We get up in the morning and know what demons we face and we know how to deal with those–new demons we don’t need–or so most of us think.

    The current results make it easier for dissenters–no Scottish state therefore no one can blame the independence forces for what is to come–when the sh*t hits the fan, as it will eventually in the UK, those forces can say “I told you so.” On the other hand, this vote could call for serious soul searching for all in the UK. Who are we? What do we really want? Those are important questions that need to be asked everywhere or we will just continue with the overlords strengthening their hold on all aspects of our life.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If the youth of Scotland voted to leave, it’s likely the youth of the rest of the UK don’t see cuurent Labour as a viable political outlet. Either Labour will change or an even more fractured coalition will come to power next year or sooner which means the “no” votes who believed change was possible will move to “yes” along with “no” voters dying.

  25. RUKidding

    Interesting to watch this unfold, esp recently. I’m unclear about what’s best for Scotland and only know a tiny bit about that country. I did note that the biggest YES vote came from Glasgow, and I believe/think that there’s a big divide bet Glaswegians and the rest of Scotland, esp those in more rural areas. hmmmm….

    I wouldn’t count on Westminster/the City to keep ANY of it’s “promises.” I duly noted, though, the full court press coming from Westminster/the City to instill FEAR in the Scots for leaving the mothership. Heard all sorts of dire & horrid predictions, combined with what I viewed as outright threats. Lately, there was more of a call to unity & togetherness but seemed a bit of wank, given the prior threats. The fact that someone made the Queen come out of her snobby hidey-hole and make an appeal to her subjects was telling. Westminster and the City were sweating somewhat.

    Well, my bet is that all the PTB are sitting smugly in their upper class twit exclusively male clubs in London already plotting how to screw over the hapless rabble in Scotland for making them do this dance in public. They’re not happy that they had to grovel amidst their fear-mongering. If I were Scottish, I sure wouldn’t hold my breath on any promises made by Westminster. JMHO, of course.

    Sorry to see the vote be NO, but it does seem – from afar – that not enough of the details had been hammered out by the YES group.

  26. paul

    Sorry to see the vote be NO, but it does seem – from afar – that not enough of the details had been hammered out by the YES group.
    Christ, we were only asking for a vote. I think we did pretty well considering.
    As we are not dealing with people of good faith or discernible humanity, we are definitely going to be screwed, Boris johnson will be choosing a dress for us right now,
    They will feel quite unconstrained and I think they will use the opportunity to devolve the social state to local governments without any transfer of funds, leaving them to drown in the quagmire.

  27. Greenguy

    Yves, if you’ve never read Charles Lindblom’s essay “The Market As Prison,” this would be a time to acquaint yourself: http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/dcanon/104fall10/lindblom.pdf. Lindblom’s argues that the market is structurally anti-democratic and conservative no matter the will of the people, and the pronouncements of business leaders are likely to lean towards capital flight if business assumes it will be harmed by a democratic election, thus creating a negative feedback loop with the voters.

  28. Fair Economist

    The Scots may get a little more autonomy, but the real promise of independence is that it would have broken the treaty chains the EU/ EMU have used to block democratic action. I don’t know if the Scots would have used their negotiating power wisely to at least sand down some of the nastier rules, but it was a possibility. Alternatively, they might have ended up out of the EU, and that would have been fine too; small European countries can do just fine without being part of the EU (see, Switzerland, Iceland, and most significantly Norway). The fact that a country left the EU without a disaster would at least improve the negotiating situation for those that remained.

  29. dcblogger

    The pro-independence forces left themselves particularly vulnerable by not having worked through the banking/currency part of their program. That meant the economic cost of a split would be far greater than necessary

    can’t be said often enough. Someone needs to explain MMT to the SNP.

  30. Kurt Sperry

    I think in the end really unforgivable and quite deliberate uncertainties about currency may have doomed the Yes side. Leaving currency issues aside resulted in frankly a very half assed and superficial discussion of what independence means. Of course the logical and proper thing, coming straight out and declaring a new Scottish Pound as a necessary condition of real sovereignty, would have probably resulted in a more lopsided No vote as the short term pain implicit in this choice would have become very evident under close examination. Most people understandably prefer the devil they know. I think this has also highlighted how brave, significant and beneficial it was at the time for the UK and other EU countries to have opted out of the EZ and thus retained some real degree of local sovereignty over their economies.

    As for the rest of Europe and the Catalans, Venetans et al making noises about independence, I again see the same currency and EU membership questions probably being sufficient to kill their efforts at the ballot as the same issues are brought under the glare of closer examination. At the least the level of discontent with any status quo will have to be very much higher than it was in Scotland to push past these hard questions. The SNP’s canny but cowardly refusal to honestly address these issues artificially inflated the Yes vote beyond what it really should have been under the circumstances.

    1. proximity1

      Rhode Island—Rhode Island! chose the independence from British rule route with no clear plan for its currency. No regular army of its own and no imperial army to protect it. Here was the idea in 1776: We, together with various portions of twelve or so other colonies—we don’t know how many, whom, where they’ll be, how well they’ll fight, nor for how long, any more than we know whether or not our cause shall prevail, all these and so much more being both unknown and, at this stage, unknowable—are taking the irrevocable course to defy the crown and break from British rule over us, the people of Rhode Island.

      Now, those people–they thought that, whatever the future held in store, they were better off determining for themselves their political course. Of course, the people who did that, the main movers, were the colony’s elite members, but, still, nothing guaranteed their success. Far from it. Those people had guts. They’d have laughed in the face of anyone who suggested that, due to uncertainties over currency matters, the risks of breaking away were simply too great to dare.

      How many of Britain’s former lands–possessions of whatever type–had, prior to taking or somehow gaining independence from Britain–had clear, detailed and settled plans for their post-break currency?

      1. Ulysses

        The burning of the Gaspee off the Rhode Island shore in 1772 was truly a remarkable act of bravery!

        No less important, yet nowhere near as celebrated, was the armed conflict in 19th c. Rhode Island known as the Dorr War. This violent insurrection began a long, long struggle that eventually brought the old Protestant landed gentry to share at least some of their political power with the new Catholic arrivals who had come to work in the factories.

        1. proximity1

          Your comment is very interesting! And I didn’t even have that episode in mind when I posted. Thank you for contributing it.

      2. leroguetradeur

        Not only that, but the Confederacy also declared its freedom back in when was it? They too wanted self determination, freedom to run their own affairs, and not be dictated to by a bunch of damn Yankees.

        When is it right and proper to secede, and when is it not?

        What would you say to Californians who want to secede? What would you say if the vote went 55-45 and the only area to want to secede was greater Los Angeles. Would you be saying that LA should have the right to take the whole state out of the Union?

        What are you saying about ISIS? Are they liberating an area which was divided up by dreadful colonialist and imperialist regimes against the will of their people?

        This is primary about nationalism in Scotland, one of the most destructive forces known to humanity. It may be dressed up in the clothes of independence and social democracy and caring, but it now and then shows its true colors, and these are those of nationalism moving leftward to racism at a rate of knots.

    1. paul

      Well. he certainly put in a good shift, won a majority in a system designed to prevent one, dethroning a compalcent, contemptuous labour party in the process, got a referendum, built a grassroots to get 45% of the electorate to vote for it in the face of a vicious, united establishment.

      Nicola Sturgeon is a pretty capable successor, though.

  31. Rosario

    This pretty much shows that Neoliberalism can’t be slain through reasoned, democratic means. Assuming the elections were not meddled with (which I believe is true for some reason) the vote for independence was as close to an absolute expression of democracy as is possible and yet, despite the countless reasons for independence it failed. I’m sensing many lucid Europeans are looking at countries like Iceland and thinking “we can be like that too” but the power of international banking, military coercion and sympathetic media are too much to overcome.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      “This pretty much shows that Neoliberalism can’t be slain through reasoned, democratic means”

      My takeaway is almost diametrically opposite- that the Scottish referendum was a clear signal that even in a situation where the status quo is likely to be quite bearable for the average punter. An independence movement came near to succeeding at the polls without religion, a language, a strong ethnic differentiator or right wing nationalist totems significantly acting as nucleation points. And as such it was run with neoliberal policy as its major undercurrent. Things won’t have to get a whole lot worse for that average punter to swing this thing the other way. Given the chance. Which leads to the takeaway I think the neoliberals in power must have–never offer your electorate choices that potentially threaten the neoliberal project. I honestly think a part of the ruling class was shitting bricks there for awhile. That’s a strong tell of a disruption in the force.

      1. paul

        That’s the spirit! The 45% are not going to change, Just another 6% to go!
        5 years of the vivsectionists rule will help, I think.

      2. OIFVet

        “Which leads to the takeaway I think the neoliberals in power must have–never offer your electorate choices that potentially threaten the neoliberal project”

        How is that different from Rosario’s contention that neoliberalism can’t be done away by democratic means? Frankly, I saw people voting their fears (stoked by the elites and their MSM megaphone) prevail over people voting their aspirations. Which is, let’s be honest, what has been happening here in the US too.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          “How is that different from Rosario’s contention that neoliberalism can’t be done away by democratic means?”

          It’s more of a perceptual difference than anything. I love the idea of popular referenda, the neoliberals will fight this sort of direct democracy, where they can’t necessarily curate and frame both sides through the representative political process, tooth and nail. Parties and politicians are cheap and easy to buy off if you are a squillionaire but in popular referenda it’s not such an easy or sure thing. In the US we seem to have no referenda at the federal level, but many states not only allow them but mandate them after a signature threshold is met. I’d like this used more creatively where it exists to address the many issues where there is a substantial dissonance between public policy and public opinion. I think it’s potentially a potent way to drive political momentum on the very issues that threaten/protect the neoliberal project. Issues the captive representative political process will never address.

          1. Glenn Condell

            Surely we can’t do away with an undemocratic system undemocratically, in the name of democracy…

            ‘I love the idea of popular referenda’

            Me too, and I can’t see why in this connected world we haven’t managed to work some way toward mass preference indicators to guide governance, if not direct it. Well of course, I do know why it hasn’t happened but it takes two to tango and while elites have and will do anything they can to block any encroachments of a more direct democracy, the lack of construction from below is equally responsible.

            We are, despite strenuous efforts from media and government, not as ignorant as we once were, but we are perhaps even more afraid, nowadays not just for our persons and property but our secret lives too, recorded and stored for future reference. Add to that our carefully plotted precarity and you have a great recipe for a fearful stasis.

            ‘Parties and politicians are cheap and easy to buy off ‘

            Yes, we have it bass-ackwards. A democracy ought to feature citizens voting on issues but we never do, not since representative democracy took over from assembly. I bet it was called ‘progress’ when it occurred, possibly even ‘reform’.

            I would like to see crowd-sourced political platforms do battle for voter approval, which individual politicians would compete with each other to implement. Put issues at the centre, not people and parties.

      3. Rosario

        I do agree I was impressed by the strength of the movement despite its open relaxed approach and its openly radical ideals, and by radical I mean radical to neoliberal leaders. Though I fear that Britain didn’t unleash all their dogs because they were caught off guard. Notice how they (Cameron, BBC, Obama) doubled down on their fairly soft propaganda campaign once polls were showing results that made them uncomfortable. This may have been a learning experience for both sides. The status quo won’t take their authority for granted and those organizing popular referendums must take a strong offensive position from the outset.

  32. Eclair

    Vision of Scotland and England as partners in a abusive marriage: it was entered into voluntarily – admittedly Scotland was in dire financial straits at the time and the thought was that by pooling resources everyone would be better off.

    Three centuries of marital bliss and squabbling later, Scotland realizes she has had her fill of being dissed and marginalized. And, now England has cut her housekeeping budget and cancelled her health insurance plan. So, she announces her plans to leave the marriage and packs her bags. Predictably, England spends the next few hours alternating between noisy sobs and maudlin pleas of ‘ don’t leave me, we are sooooo good together, I promise I’ll stop beating you (even though you asked for it), I never meant to hurt you,’ and brutal threats. Scotland quakes when England promises to follow her to ‘the gates of hell’ (oh, wait, that’s a line from another current soap opera!) and beat her senseless.

    Buffeted between kisses and reminders of the good times and visions of violent beatings … and, then, there are the children … Scotland reconsiders. After all, she would have to give up her current life-style; her job offers her only 20 hours of work each week, at a low wage and no benefits. So, she dabs a little make-up over the bruises, accepts the caresses, and prepares to carry on as before.

    Except, it’s not really like before. The issue that she had been unable to bring out into the open, because of fear or the inability to turn her vague feelings of depression and unhappiness into a coherent narrative, has been given a life and is laid out on the table in before them. And, it is not going to go away.

      1. OIFVet

        Rangers Orange nazi sectarians, these wankers. Yet Sky and Lord Ashcroft tried their level best last night to convey the impression that it was the poor wee ‘No’ bairns that had been intimidated by the big bad separatists. Better Together my butt. This is classic Perfidious Albion: divide and conquer.

  33. mf

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    what would Scotts put here to show decent respect for the opinions of mankind? Independence after 300 years of union is not a flippant game. These days many people treat is as such.

  34. OIFVet

    “…decent respect to the opinions of Westminster and transnational financial elites requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”

    There, updated it for you. How’s the apple harvest going?

  35. Another Gordon

    One aspect that deserves noting is the METHOD of voting – paper votes counted by hand with not a voting machine in sight. It takes a bit longer to count but it’s quite impossible to hack a victory and, with so many ordinary people involved, really difficult to bribe your way to success. Just imagine the aftermath if there wasn’t confidence on all sides in the accuracy of the result.

    I wonder how much difference paper votes and hand counting would have made to some recent high profile US elections.

    1. hunkerdown

      I wonder how much difference paper votes and hand counting would have made to some recent high profile US elections.

      Not bloody much. (look closely at the top ballot on the stack at the center of the frame)

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      And you know, the shit of it is, that if the “Yes” vote had succeeded, when Quebec finally has enough of that NeoCon, Harper, and secedes, leaving the Eastern Provinces divided from the rest of Canada, Nova Scotia could have formed a Union with Scotland. They toss the caber there, and celebrate their heritage as it is. Nice to have an alternative to falling further under the sway of the Great Satan to the South, eh?

  36. Winston

    If such a vote allowed in LA secession, San Fernando Valley would have broken off as won majority in the valley!

  37. lerogetradeur

    The questions none of the enthusiasts appear able or willing to answer are these:-

    Do you think it was wrong to deny the right of the South to secede?

    If only Georgia and Mississippi had voted to secede, but this had tipped a majority of the popular vote for secession to 55-45, would you think Georgia and Mississippi would have the right to take the rest of the South with them into independence?

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