Scottish Independence Vote: Results, Ramifications and Neglected Corners

The Scottish Independence Vote went like this: 45% voted “Yes” to Independence; 55% “No”. The Union continues. Turnout was a splendid 84%. Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond resigned.

The snap analysis is straightforward: according to Tory pundit Lord Ashcroft’s instant survey, it’s the oldies wot won it:


The younger voters have no sterling-denominated pensions, nor sterling-denominated mortgages yet, so one would expect them to be more cautious when the next vote comes around. Constrained to pick a single main reason for their “No” vote from a shortlist, 47% of voters in Lord Ashcroft’s sample chose “The risks of becoming independent looked too great when it came to things like the currency, EU membership, the economy, jobs and prices”. Not just the oldies, then: 47% of all the “No” voters sampled didn’t like the risk.

On the other hand, an optimistic SNP leader, looking at the age profile in that picture, would conclude that, if a persuasive solution to the currency, banking and trade issues can be found at all, full independence is only a matter of time.

*UPDATE* Sunday morning from comments: what I warned was an instant poll turns out to have exactly the type of snag to be expected from that sort of exercise, except worse:  “The overall sample was large – 2047 – but this included only 17 in the age group 16/17. The conclusion that young people are overwhelmingly pro-independence is not supported by the evidence”. OTOH I also see Salmond this morning saying that independence is “only a matter of time”! Better-designed polling will settle doubts about the accuracy of the youth vote analysis, I hope.

Mind you, that future leader would have to be poised to combat some pretty determined pushback by propagandists for the future “No” camp. In the Ashcroft sample, 9% of “No” voters made their minds up in the final week before the vote, and a further 10% in the last month. It’s therefore entirely conceivable that the last minute barrage of stories about the SNP’s currency and banking policies had quite an effect. In that case, this particular £10,000 bonus looks well spent:


The Telegraph did not stick very rigidly to the economist/technocrat/central banker line on the genuine deficiencies in the SNP’s case. The Telegraph liked FUD. “Good to see the Daily Telegraph playing it completely straight all the way to the end”, remarked another Tweeter, contemplating this set of stories from the Tele web site:

Tele stories

Done in by scare stories or let down by their own economics, the SNP will get another shot in the not-too-distant future. In the mean time, they have given a big and well-deserved fright to a complacent Westminster:

The extraordinary story of how the dream of Scottish independence – long nurtured by a third or fewer Scots – suddenly turned into an existential threat to one of the world’s premier powers is a lesson for leaders everywhere of the danger of taking voters for granted.

The aftermath of the vote will soon affect the rest of the UK greatly, as outlined by the very bracing Frances Coppola, who, on the “status quo” apparently endorsed by the “No” vote, is, ahem, much more illuminating than I was in my last post:

This “No” vote was certainly not a vote for the status quo. In the last days of the campaign the UK government promised further devolution for Scotland and protection for its current level of fiscal transfers (the so-called Barnett formula). The rest of the UK, notably the leadership of the Welsh assembly, reacted with some anger to this. Scotland currently receives more under the Barnett formula than Wales, which was particularly badly affected by the destruction of the UK’s mining industry in the 1980s and 90s and remains depressed with high levels of unemployment to this day. And the promise of further devolution raised hackles in England, where the fact that Scottish MPs can vote on English affairs but English MPs can’t vote on Scottish affairs (the so-called “West Lothian question“) rankles. Bribing the Scots to remain in the union opened a sizeable can of worms in the rest of the UK.

And now the worms have escaped from the can. Even before the Scots cast their votes, people were discussing the possibility of creating an English parliament and reforming the Barnett formula. And as the Scots made their decision, the UK Prime Minister announced:

 “Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland should also have a bigger say in theirs.”

 It seems the UK is already drifting towards fundamental constitutional reform.

But devolution for the whole UK – the creation of a community of “member states” – will not be easy. Further devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and even reforming the Barnett formula, is child’s play compared with the problems that England poses. England is far larger than any other state in the union, and it is deeply divided: the prosperous London and South East dominate it both economically and politically, and there are sizeable pockets of poverty and depression in the regions that were formerly industrial powerhouses. Trickle-down economics has never trickled down far enough in England. The Labour party, which would face virtual annihilation in an English parliament, supports the creation of self-sufficient regional assemblies within England – an idea which has been tried before but unfortunately failed to gain much traction with English voters. The Conservative party, predictably, likes the idea of an English parliament. And equally predictably, large local authorities such as Yorkshire and cities such as Manchester want to run their own affairs. This is a political minefield and certainly not something that can be addressed before the 2015 general election.

Via Frances Coppola’s neat summary, so much for the continuing effects of the Scottish vote.

Let’s now return to Scotland to dig into a less-visible story, by way of a thing called the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which you can read about here:

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) is the Scottish Government’s official tool for identifying those places in Scotland suffering from deprivation. It incorporates several different aspects of deprivation, combining them into a single index. It divides Scotland into 6,505 small areas, called datazones, each containing around 350 households. The Index provides a relative ranking for each datazone, from 1 (most deprived) to 6,505 (least deprived). By identifying small areas where there are concentrations of multiple deprivation, the SIMD can be used to target policies and resources at the places with greatest need.

Helpfully, the SIMD people bulk those 6,505 small areas back up into the 33 council areas of Scotland. I combined the resulting data with the Independence Vote returns by council area, and performed a very simple Euclidean-distance-based cluster analysis. The clusters are pretty darned obvious without machine help, in fact. The result is this chart, which you can click to make more legible, with the two clusters of council areas identified in different colours:

Scotland Clusters

The blue dots represent the wonderful Scotland that visitors get to see easily. The other dots represent not-so-wonderful places. Here’s the full list of council areas in the not-so-wonderful cluster:


Council Area Turnout Yes (%) No (%) Yes No Social Deprivation Index
East Ayrshire 84.5 47 53 39,762 44,442 20.8
Clackmannanshire 88.6 46 54 16,350 19,036 21.9
Renfrewshire 87.3 47 53 55,466 62,067 22.4
North Lanarkshire 84.4 51 49 115,783 110,922 23.9
North Ayrshire 84.4 49 51 47,072 49,016 25.7
West Dunbartonshire 87.9 54 46 33,720 28,776 26.3
Dundee 78.8 57 43 53,620 39,880 30.7
Inverclyde 87.4 50 50 27,243 27,329 40.0
Glasgow 75 54 47 194,779 169,347 41.6

That’s 1.13 million Scots, a quarter of the voters, who live in or near the not-so-wonderful side of Scotland. Not-so-wonderful? Here’s a glimpse of the very bottom of the barrel:

There are ghosts sitting in the Cottage bar in Glasgow’s Calton area. The locals call them the missing generation, the men who died before their time. Sometimes the drinkers dip their heads or lift their pints to them. They may not see them but all the drinkers know they are there. Jimmy, Swifty, Davy and many more.

For here in this multi-deprived inner city area, the average life expectancy of a male is just 53.9 years. In Iraq, after 10 years of sanctions, a war and a continuing conflict, suicide bombs and insurgency, the average man has a good chance of making it into his 60s; the life expectancy of a male there is 67.49. In Iran it is 69.96, in North Korea, 71.37 and in the Gaza Strip it is 70.5.

Statistics recently revealed that the Calton ward has not just the lowest life expectancy in the United Kingdom and Europe but of many areas of the world. A child born in the Calton – locals always prefix a “the” to Calton – arrives into an environment saturated by drink, drugs, smoking and poor diet. A baby girl has more of a chance of survival – her life expectancy at birth is 74.8.

In the Calton, according to statistics compiled by NHS Health Scotland, 26% of the population say their health is not good and 52% smoke, compared with 25% of Scotland’s average population. Alcohol abuse admissions to hospital are way above the national average. Also eating away at Calton’s life expectancy are cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, drug overdose and suicide. For here, deprivation bites into almost every home: 44% are on incapacity benefit, 37% live in a workless household and 30% of homes are occupied by a lone parent.

Where there’s a scandal, an opportunist can’t be far away:

Such startling figures were this week seized upon by the Conservative leader, David Cameron, at the launch of his party’s social justice policy. He attacked the chancellor, saying: “We desperately need new thinking if we’re to tackle the problems of multiple deprivation … We must realise that Gordon Brown’s ever-growing state cannot win the war on poverty on its own.

There’s a much bigger mashup of the SIMD here, with Google Maps, that includes a history of the SIMD level in each datazone since 2004. From that you can see that little has changed in the Deprivation Archipelago since 21st January 2006, the date of the future Prime Minister’s attack on Brown’s “ever-growing state”. David Cameron’s alternative has had no visible effect on the SIMD. I daresay life expectancy has got worse in the Gaza Strip lately: perhaps it has even sunk to Calton levels.

The Guardian’s most recent coverage of this issue was a year ago, so even the liberal rags aren’t that interested; but then, I suppose there are only so many times you can write this story:

A bigger scandal than Bill Walker’s behaviour was revealed last week and hardly a voice was raised in protest. According to the Office for National Statistics, Glasgow possesses the highest number of workless households in the UK.

This means that in parts of the city, children will reach adulthood never having seen a wage slip in the house or witnessed any member of their family head off to work at night or in the morning. In some of these neighbourhoods, almost nine out of 10 male adults are receiving benefits, and life expectancy can be up almost 20 years lower than in the city’s leafier arrondissements barely two miles away.

The reason they die much younger is attributed to the “Glasgow effect”, a handy phrase that is now often deployed to absolve the rest of us from any responsibility for such an iniquity.

The Glasgow effect hints that there is nothing much that can be done; it is just one of those social curiosities that come with living in this city. For it seems that life expectancy in UK cities with similar social indicators and patterns of deprivation is higher than in Glasgow. Thus the knife slayings, the heart disease, the cancer rates and the depression that create the Glasgow effect can be neatly boxed up and left for the next academic seeking to complete a doctoral thesis on the subject.

Well, it looks as if those morbidly-sick, concerned and patriotic folk turned out in numbers, voting with the same passion evident everywhere else, but predominantly for independence and Salmond, who, they thought, on little evidence but much hope, might make a difference. The turnout figures say they haven’t given up: rather, it appears that the rest of the UK that has given up on them. What a shame and a disgrace it is, to Scots and Britons alike, that people still live like that, with no end in sight.

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  1. Rosario

    Interesting, the 65+ crowd is the last of the Scots to see a strong social welfare system that wasn’t burning all around them. I wonder if that is why they have nostalgia for the old order? Or maybe a fear of losing their remaining pensions? It seems the younger people (excepting for the 18-24 blip of the college/”intro to adultism years”) are very disillusioned with the neoliberal deliverables. I can’t see how this could possibly be ironed out. Maybe another referendum in a few years?

    1. Yves Smith

      It may get back to Frances Coppola’s point about the bribes, that a “No” vote was not a vote for the status quo. That age group may have thought the late-in-the-game concessions (particularly re NHS) were less bad than risking 5-10 years of economic disruption, when they might not live long enough to see the sunlit pastures beyond. But this is a guess from the wrong side of the Atlantic, so I’d be curious to get readings from people who were closer to the action.

      1. different clue

        If “no money = you die” in Scotland the same as here, are the old people to be blamed for voting to avoid the threat of their meager retirement-survival money turning into no money at all?

      2. Geoffrey Barraclough

        There were no concessions regarding the NHS as health is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

        1. Yves Smith

          Please explain this commentary from the BBC, emphasis mine:

          The SNP are “perpetrating a lie” about protecting the NHS with independence, Gordon Brown has said.

          The former prime minister said Holyrood already has the power to keep the health service in public hands.

          He said the SNP should make way for a Labour government in Scotland if they continued to say they were “powerless”.

          Health Secretary Alex Neil criticised Mr Brown’s remarks and said the NHS would be best protected once Scotland had full control of its finances.

          Mr Brown was speaking at a campaign event in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire.

          During the event, he sought to attack the SNP’s argument on health services.

          He also welcomed a vow by the three Westminster leaders to enhance Holyrood’s powers in the event of a “No” vote.

          1. Anon

            The sentence you highlighted doesn’t mention the NHS. Gordon brown can attack the SNP position on the NHS while still being in favour of enhancing other devolved powers.

          2. paul

            The conservative coalition (and I unclude labour in this grouping) are privatising the NHS in england, as Allyson Pollock put it:
            : “Although people find this extraordinary and can’t believe it, the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 has abolished the NHS in England as a universal service. The NHS is reduced to a funding stream and a logo; increasingly all the services are going to be contracted in the marketplace.

            “It abolished the duty on the Secretary of State for Health to secure and provide comprehensive healthcare; that is a duty that still holds in Scotland, but doesn’t hold in England. If the basis for a national health service has changed so markedly in England – if there is no duty to secure and provide universal healthcare – then what will happen is (public) funding can be withdrawn, and private funding will take its place. If you are closing services and reducing them, people only have two choices – to go without care or pay privately.”

            Pollock criticised politicians in Scotland for not taking more of a stance in opposing the act when it was going through Westminster. She added: “Scotland is very vulnerable because of what is happening in England – and any reductions in funding for England will translate through the Barnett formula to Scotland.”

            This and the TTIP mean hard times for the NHS in Scotland.

            1. paul

              Note that Gordon Brown (who I have to admit,when in office, was pretty good for the elderly and disabled if shit for the young and unemployed) did not feel roused to get out of his scratcher and do any stirring speeches against the destructive, vindictive austerity and looting going on for the last 4 years in Westminster.

          3. larry

            Yves, Brown is simply saying that Salmond was lying. Salmond’s economic program was so full of holes you could drive a truck through it. A map early in the morning showed that the SNP territory voted No. I took that as a no confidence vote in Salmond and his program. Brown has also said that as one of the signatories to the agreement to greater devolution, he would make sure that the agreement would be adhered to and implemented. He gave a rousing speech the day before the referendum. His best ever. He is now seen, rightly or wrongly, as having influenced at least some waverers to vote No.

            The enhanced powers mentioned are the greater powers that Scotland would be given by Westminster in addition to those they already have. One of them is the ability to control their own finances in a more localized way. It is known as DevoMax. Some counties in England have now voiced an interest in more devolution. One of the powers they want is the ability to tax. What sort of taxes they have in mind is not yet clear. The agreement that the three party leaders and Brown signed concerning the nature of the further devolution has yet to be worked out in detail. This is supposed to come in January.

            One issue that is now testing everyone is the so-called Mid-Lothian question. Or the English question. It concerns the distribution of voting powers within Westminster. Should only English MPs vote on issues that affect only England? As you might expect, Labour, and Brown, are vigorously opposed to this. In Brown’s great speech, he alluded to this. That a federal government applies to all while local issues are handled by local assemblies. The question is what might “local” mean. Another issue is the status of the House of Lords, raised once again.

            Cameron, along with Gove, has already put barriers in the way of a proper constitutional “convention” and is muddying the waters around the so-called English question. While the Tories are hated in Scotland for the obvious reasons, the Labour Party isn’t in good odor either. And they depend, sometimes to a significant extent, on Scottish Labour MPs to assist them to pass or block legislation in Westminster. And, of course, Cameron wants to put a stop to this.

            Didn’t mean for this to be so long. Paul has already set out the problems concerning the privatization of the NHS, which are enhanced by the TTIP treaty that Obama wants everyone to sign up to.

            1. paul

              The ‘west lothian question’ ,why should scottish mps vote on english has been a great comfort to the unionist establishment.
              Threough the barnett formula, decisions about english spending gevern the block grant to scotland.
              As we have decided to be part of the UK, our mps have every right to determine this.
              Devo/Devo max, its all just local governemnt.
              National governments have the power to spend in their own currency, local ones do not.
              I was a critic of the SNP currency approach from the start, but I understood independence was the only way to acheive it.
              I’ve met quite a few of the academic and administration economists her over the years and always came away with admiration for their complete, wilful ignorance of anything past the catechism of conventional economics.
              Why could I not enlighten them?
              Because I’m just a curious punter, and they’re experts.

      3. EmilianoZ

        Francis Coppola should stick to making movies. What are his creds for commenting on politics/economy? Last time I checked he went to the UCLA film school.

    2. paul

      The staggering thing is that 70% of health spending is on the over 65’s, the vast majority of benefits go to them and this is what the forces of no are implacably set on destroying.

      1. different clue

        My reply is not strictly germane to the uniquely Scottish-question context of the comment. But in broader general I suspect this figure about the over-65s consuming most of the health care and costing most of the money is designed in general to get the under-65s to hate the over-65s and passively or actively seek their mass death. My response is that the over-65s use most of the healthcare because most sicknesses and body-breakdowns begin setting in at and after 65. So the under-65ers should just make sure to live to age 65 and then it will be their turn to use most of the health care, just as it was their predecessors’ turn to use most of it once those predecessors turned 65.

        1. paull

          I do not argue with that at all. Humans generally start to fall to bits about 50, of course health care is mainly devoted to the under 5’s and the over 65’s.
          Universal healthcare is an amazingly effective way of dealing with this.
          The intergenerational resentment story is yet another divide and rule strategy, one which has yet to gain any traction here as far as I can see.

  2. John

    The Scots have invigorated our Belgian nationalists…. a bit. They are all over the news, even the extremists (racists) are stating how they were impressed with the overall process. Like the Scots, an issue that may cause some to get cold feet is the pension system. Older voters could get spooked and torpedo the whole thing. But don’t count on much anytime soon. The nationalists appear to like the underdog role rather than taking a leadership position. They won a majority in the last election but are refusing to put a person forward as prime minister — we are without a functional national government since May. Dysfunctional.

  3. John Hope

    Scotland, like Wales and like England is a post-industrial country. No politician in the west wants to take this on board because it signifies the end of that hallowed shibboleth ‘ economic growth ‘ so instead they look for ANY sign, no matter how illusory to show that their economies are on the mend. So in those pockets of ‘ deprivation ‘ ( a weasel word for poverty ) of course there are plenty of households where not a single member is working because the jobs just don’t exist and without the jobs the old working class solidarity has broken down and those who could get out having got out what you have left is exactly what the author describes. It is not a mystery and is not complicated. Now that the referendum is over it remains to be seen whether further devolved government throughout the UK will be promised, but not delivered because delivery means financial support, or to use a piece of economic jargon – a Keynesian approach – which given the political mania to aid and abet the financialisation of what remains of the UK economy ( legalised looting by big corporations ) seems unlikely at best. But who knows an 84% turnout is a very frightening thing for Westminster politicians and with UKIP chattering away on the sidelines and a General Election only seven months away it’s anybody’s guess as to what might happen next.

    1. Ed

      This is an interesting point. I think the main factors driving “deindustrialization” and “deprivation” is the world hitting real resource limitations, which are hitting the most or older industrialized countries first. I also think what is now called “neoliberalism” is just the elites giving up on managing economies to generate a real rate of return and turning to looting.

      In the context of Scottish independence, the question is whether you can soften the effect of these better by being part of a big state or a small one. With a big state you get economies of scale, and the prospect that your local elites, like in Russia and Brazil, are strong enough to tel the Anglo-American elites to jump in a lake and survive. With a small state, you don’t have to pour resources into things like aircraft carriers and a lower politician to voter ratio, but a stronger prospect of being governed by hick pols who get bribed and blackmailed easier.

      A big country like the UK which has aircraft carriers, but the elites are closely embedded with the anglo-american elite by definition, seems like the worst of both worlds. However, the small republic across the Irish Channel has been completely under the thumb of the same, which doesn’t say much good for the prospects of a genuinely independent Scotland.

  4. dSquib

    Most irritating aspect of coverage was emphasis placed on districts home to towns or villages of historical battles, assuming that if Yes sentiment isn’t high there it won’t be elsewhere. The spirits of fallen warriors from the 14th century don’t hang around there, infecting each new generation with independent leanings. It was always about the cities and the working class there and it seems they lost it in Aberdeen most heavily and areas outside Glasgow didn’t do so well.

    On the personal politics level, the conundrum of the No campaign is going overboard in, we’ll call it Britsplaining, saying that not only is the Union desirable but independence is so undesirable. There cannot be a lack of No voters still annoyed by the sight of English public figures dismayed at the suggestion of even the possibility of Scots ruling themselves. I think the awfulness of the Better Together campaign will leave lingering resentments ultimately. There can’t be a lack of No voters who hate Salmond but see that the Westminster establishment’s sneering treatment of him is not just directed at him but at uppity Scots.

    1. Jim Haygood

      One of the most ludicrous claims from the No camp — heard on a New York radio station the day before the vote — was ‘experts say that the price of Scotch whiskey could soar if Scotland goes independent.’

      Evidently, hyperbole works. The quandary is whether secessionists must resort to the Big Lie propaganda of the ruling establishment to get shot of them. Prevarication is preferable to violence, one supposes.

  5. BillK

    The older generation voted No because (like in all the developed countries) they have enjoyed the good times. They have a pension, mortgage-free house, and a comfortable retirement. The young have little prospect of a similar lifestyle. Few jobs (and mostly low-paid jobs), high house prices mean lifetime mortgages, the pension age is being extended so that retirement is moving further away, the financial situation is so unstable that investments and pension schemes may well collapse before the young reach retirement, and so on.
    It is a wake-up call when 45% of the people have such poor prospects that they vote to scrap the present system.

    1. Yves Smith

      Did you manage to miss Richard’s analysis?

      The life expectancy of men in poor areas is only 54 years. That is of people born NOW. That is as bad as Russia in the worst recent period, after the USSR fell and the Western looters and oligarchs in the making moved in.

      So basically the people in the poor areas don’t even live to be old. Or to put it another way, the older population lives disproportionately in the better-off areas that voted to stay with the UK.

      1. BillK

        When the national pension scheme was invented, the retirement age of 65 was chosen because at that time few working class people lived much longer than that. Only the better-off people (the upper classes) were ever intended to benefit from the government pension scheme. But it was a good carrot to dangle in front of the workers and get their votes.
        Now that people are living longer, (even in Scotland!), the expense of paying pensions to an ageing population is forcing governments to move the pension age further and further away. Inflation will also be eating away at the value of pensions.
        The poor and the young have little to gain from the present system. And this prospect is gradually dawning on them.

      2. The Dork of Cork

        Classic clip from the early 90s…..

        Again the English like to make fun of these lads but if you read Ernst Jünger’s account of the first world war the one group the Germans feared amongest all was the people seen above.
        Their effectiveness was most likely as a result of a ability to switch off from their impending death.
        (A keen awareness that they are going to die soon anyhow)
        The tradition in Glasgow is to top oneself via direct or indirect means so as to prevent them from stealing your lifeforce.
        The Banks dislike this because as banking assets during peacetime they are almost worthless.

        1. JohnnyGL

          It’s not to hard to find Western fingerprints all over the post-USSR disaster. Start with Jeffrey Sachs and the rest of the IMF/World Bank’s bad advice, then move on to all the flight capital buried in London real estate. Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea FC, one of the biggest/richest football clubs in the world. They were just an ordinary team before his money was lavishly sprayed The whole project was built on flight capital out of Russia.

          1. optimader

            Looting hyperbole aside, the “asset theft” was internally driven not externally by “the west”. Wealth certainly was expropriated, but it was organized by Russian criminals.

            This tape winds back to Russians electing a drunk who had his 10 minutes of fame by cheerleading the mass protests against the Coup attempt against Gorbechev by those opposing the Perestroika.
            Instead of progressive reforms in a Country that never had any historical freemarket/democratic experience that had a broken command economy utterly corrupted by the Vory, Mafyia and recently unemployed KGB/military operatives, Yeltsin quickly dismantled Ministries in a vacuum of functioning statutory structure and basically delivered Russian assets to a corrupted oligarchy.
            So again tell me, who in the West “looted” Russia?? The IMF? The IMF is a foot note to the asset theft that occurred in Russia, indeed the IMF made loans and operatives the Yeltsin government at the time stole something like at 1/3 of those funds.

            When the USSR collapsed and a free market economy emerged, organized criminal groups began to take over Russia’s economy, with many ex-KGB soldiers and veterans of the Afghan war offering their skills to the crime bosses.[3] Gangster summit meetings had taken place in hotels and restaurants shortly before the Soviet’s dissolution, so that top vory v zakone could agree on who would rule what, and set plans on how to take over the post-Communist state. It was agreed upon that Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov would be sent to Brighton Beach in 1992, allegedly because he was killing too many people in Russia and also to take control of Russian organized crime in North America.[8] Within a year, he built an international operation that included, but was not limited to, narcotics, money laundering, and prostitution and made ties with the American Mafia and Colombian drug cartels, eventually extending to Miami, Los Angeles, and Boston.[7] Those who went against him were usually killed.

            Fordham International Law Journal [Vol. 19: 1999 1996]

            1. OIFVet

              Come off it. The election of 1996 was a farce, stolen by Yeltsin with the explicit approval of Billy Clinton, because Yeltsin and his oligarchs were doing such a bang-up job of destroying Russia on West’s behalf. Dig back into Mark Ames’ reporting, most of it is archived online. Or re-read the relevant chapters from Naomi Klein if you like.

                1. OIFVet

                  It takes two to tango. That’s a given. So you tell me if you heard any rumblings about Yeltsin’s stolen election, much less a wholesale media campaign and politicos lining up to condemn him a la Putin. Because, and forgive me if my memory is wrong, all I heard was how good for Russia Yeltsin was, what a great champion of democracy and capitalism he was. In reality, democracy in Russia died even before 1996. It died in October 1993, when Yeltsin assumed dictatorial powers in order to pass the “reforms” drafted by his corrupt inner circle under Sachs’ supervision. Not that one will hear or read that in any MSM outlet of course.

                  The fact is, dictatorship and corruption is just fine with the US when it is friendly to its interests or can be made friendly. Yeltsin was just one example of that. Contrast that with the lofty rhetoric about “freedom” and “democracy” from our politicos. If you can’t understand how this hypocrisy not only benefits the US elites but also breeds resentment both abroad and at home (in light of our own realization that “freedom” and “democracy” at home are an illusion) then there really is no point in further discussion.

                  1. optimader

                    And I’m not interested in hijacking a thread.
                    Suffice it to say, I think you suffer from 20/20 hindsight. Yeltsin was a Mafia tool and Zyuganov was a Stalinist -at best the Russians were in a between Scylla and Charybdis choice of either an alcoholic thief (who incidentally was the poster child Party thug who worked his way up the system) or a clown that advocated for the re-Stalinisation of Russia.
                    I’ll submit that democracy never really got off the ground in Russia, not a case of it dying in 1993, and the legacy is that Yeltsin protégée is in charge.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Lesser evilism, eh? No wonder democracy was stillborn. Endorsing Yeltsin tends to sour those who lived under his rule. And the “protege”? Say what you will, but he won’t destroy Russia in the name of private and foreign interests. That makes him popular at home and causes you to turn up your nose in self-righteous indignation. Because democracy and freedom? Let’s get that here in the US first…

                    2. optimader

                      “…Say what you will, but he won’t destroy Russia in the name of private and foreign interests. That makes him popular at home and causes you to turn up your nose in self-righteous indignation…”

                      Look up the word protégée , I am just calling a spade a spade,
                      Putin was chosen by Yeltsin, full stop.
                      You seem to be able to debate a point with yourself so you rally don’t need me. I don’t believe I’ve commented on Putin’s interests, popularity at home nor offered indignation. These are your perceptions.
                      I am perfectly content w/ Russians, and the citizens of any other sovereign nation for that manner, self-determining whatever form of government they choose as long as is does not adversely affect me. Pretty simple playground rules work for me.

                    3. OIFVet

                      “…nor offered indignation” Why offer when one can imply by way of innuendo?

                      “Look up the word protégée” What sort of protege repudiates his mentor in name and in deed? Besides taking on the Yeltsin era oligarchs (and admittedly installing his own), Putin has basically went the other way as far as policies are concerned, criticized Yeltsin by name, and received return fire from Yeltsin’s daughter for it. That’s what makes him popular. Yeltsin, on the other hand, is a four letter word even amongst liberal Russian emigres.

                      “…as long as is does not adversely affect me” Except that it does as long as the government’s policy is regime change in Russia.

              1. Optimader

                You have a very idealized perception of the Soviet Union/russian federation.
                Read russian history about the Vor v zakone, Yeltsin didnt need any help from Clinton

                1. OIFVet

                  Help, no. Approval, or at least reassurance that it won’t be frowned upon, yes. Idealization? Lazy attempt to dismiss an opposing POV. I know what the SU/RF was/is. I also know the Russian culture and psyche far better than you ever could. Like it or not, your exceptionalism-bred views of how a country ought to be run is not necessarily shared by all other countries/cultures. That doesn’t make them inferior to yours nor superior. In the case of Russia, the majority likes doing things the Russian way. Frankly, the US has no moral authority to judge them for that. About time ordinary Americans realize that too.

                  1. optimader

                    ok, I stopped reading here:”..I also know the Russian culture and psyche far better than you ever could. Like it or not, your exceptionalism-bred views…”

        2. diptherio


          After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, most of its members followed the neoliberal advice of the IMF and World Bank – and the Harvard Boys – and simply turned over the most lucrative resources in the public domain (minerals and fuels, real estate, public utilities, hotels, transport systems, etc.) to well-connected individuals and those working through banks. U.S. and other Western interests then helped these individuals move their money out to the West, while selling post-Soviet enterprises and real estate.

          Because economic freedom, donchaknow…

            1. diptherio

              Well, the Scandinavians seem to have a pretty good system, for one…

              Your comment implies that there was no alternative (or at least none superior)…I shouldn’t have to refute that claim on this site.

              1. Optimader

                Scandanavians dont have economic freedom?

                “Your comment implies that there was…”
                Not sure how youre drawing such a conclusion. The point I addressing was that it was russian crimminals that stole russian assets.

        3. Yves Smith

          The definitive article on that, and it also led to Larry Summers losing his seat as Harvard president. I’ve referred to it several times.

          This article was stuffed in every faculty member’s inbox the day the faculty voted him down. Larry technically didn’t have to resign but with the faculty united against him, he was clearly neutered and got the message and resigned.

          That Larry was ousted over his remarks on women is a carefully crafted cover story to hide Harvard’s shameful and hugely destructive conduct.

          The Western role in the looting of Russia is well known. Heard of the eXile, which gave us Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames as serious kneecapping writers? They were all over that beat. That is why they were controversial in Russia, the rot they were describing. If the eXile was a mere potty-mouthed magazine, no one would have cared much. On the eXile:

          1. optimader

            Yes Yves, Even in my sheltered existence I’ve been exposed to eXile(d) , Tabbi I think talented and have generally enjoyed reading , Ames pretty tedious IMO. I’ve even heard of the Institutional Investor and read that article!
            As far as Summer’s, No secret. Summer’s crashed every project he’s inexplicably been given so as I’m aware, that he would fail w/ the Russian Brief, no real surprise here.
            Maybe his success was in being able to talk over people in a condescending manner? But L.S. or not, the notion that he or anyone else was going to spearhead democratic reforms in Russia were delusional. Countries aren’t inoculated with economic/political reforms, that’s an internal process and the Russian chose Yeltsin who was a thug who came up through the Communist ranks, (and he chose Putin). That he delivered Russian assets to the Mafyia Oligarchs and thugs was consistent behavior. How those assets were divided is in the details.
            Heard of The Moscow Times?
            Khodorkovsky Declares Sudden Political Comeback
            • By Ivan Nechepurenko
            • Sep. 21 2014 20:05
            • Last edited 20:06

            1. Yves Smith

              You clearly did not bother to read the Institutional Investor article. It shows how the members of the Harvard effort in Russia were looting. Personally.

              You really don’t want to get it, do you?

              1. optimader

                I did indeed read the article at the time when Summers was bounced, I believe off a kedrosky link at the time. I would suggest you look up the word “loot” , and reframe the scope of the targets a bit narrower than “western” .

                The vast bulk of assets that took flight ex-Russia were under the control of Russians crimminals not “Westerners”.

                Marsh I think frames it correctly as a case of fraud that ultimately was prosecuted, but was barely covered in the media.
                So yeah Harvard sucks, Summers sucks and most of the MSM is superficial, but we know that. A more accurate characterization would be Harvard academics who committed fraud not the implied systemic “western looters” meme, unless dramatic flourish is the objective.

    1. proximity1

      “Kill your parents” (circa 1960s & 70s)

      “Buy ‘low,’ Sell ‘high’ ” (circa 1980s & 90s)

      — Jerry Rubin

  6. Geoffrey Barraclough

    A word of caution regarding Ashcroft’s exit poll. The overall sample was large – 2047 – but this included only 17 in the age group 16/17. The conclusion that young people are overwhelmingly pro-independence is not supported by the evidence.

  7. proximity1

    I recently noticed that I’d completely overlooked a certain particular cohort of the “No” camp, foolishly lumping them in an undifferentiated way with these older, stable, and middle-to-upper class “Better Together” voters. I refer to a segment of voters who much resemble fanatical nationalists in many nations and across the centuries. These arch-British nationalists, not to be confused with others whose nationalism is perhaps as intense but limited to Scotland rather than to Britain, are similar to the U.S. Tea Party cohort; if they’d been Germans in the 1930s and 40s, they’d have been among the earliest and most fanatical of Hitler’s followers. And they’d have remained loyal to the bitter end–and after! If they were Italian, they’d have been staunch adherents of Mussolini. Their counterparts are found in Russia today in the most extreme adherents of a Putin cult of personality and its ultra-nationalist Russian aspects. But they are typically young rather than the elderly who lived under Soviet rule and are nostalgic for it. Though Putin has on occasion spoken favorably in public about numerous former Soviet republics as being still a necessary part of Russia’s political soul, these ultras discount that unconsciously and are probably not even attentive enough to have heard about it. In Britain today, they’re found in either the British National Party or UKIP, and, when there is no nationalist political campaign to wage, they are consumed with fervor for their football team–as they are the epitome of football hooligans on an ordinary day. They have no use for the E.U., nor even, for some of them, for NATO–which to them smells of internationalism, which they detest in all its forms. They are almost always poor, though there are rare exceptions. Their political engagement is quite marginal. It applies mainly in such instances as this recent referendum. The rest of the time, they have little or no interest at all in routine politics. Once the sacred nation is thought safe from interior or exterior existential threat, they’re uninterested in the details of other political issues. Predictably, they are fanatical Monarchists, royalists, for whom, to be British means, by definition, to unconditionally support the royal family in all matters. They’d regard anyone who did not as a traitor to Britain. When flags are aloft, being waved, their flag is the Union Jack, always and only, never Scotland’s Saltire or even England’s Cross of St. George. Their internationalist component is nil; they have no particular care for democracy in practice, let alone in principle and would only vote to ensure the perpetuation of a strictly class-driven system–despite the fact that it ill serves them. For that is not important. They don’t aspire to high status or wealth and expect to live their lives in the social station of their birth. Again, with rare exceptions. They regard history as following a course which vindicates the hierarchy of ruler and ruled. They accept their place as ruled because that is the natural order of the world. They’re unscientific–if not, indeed, pre-scientific in their thinking about all things that relate to science. They’re religious, and, in this case, deeply Protestant– Church of Scotland or England and typically anti-Catholic. They’d understand France’s Front National partisans as making entirely good sense. But they wouldn’t care about them beyond that factor since they’re French, after all.

    In the Scotland referendum, Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander–and, of course, the Queen–had no more certain backers than these fanatics. Indeed, if they knew much about any of the above, except the Queen, they’d find very little to like about them or their policies. But that simply doesn’t matter since they don’t know anything nor care about details concerning the elite political class’s aims and how that class shamelessly uses them. They are the quintessential “useful idiots” from the popular phrase.

  8. Ignacio 2

    Has the “Yes” presented a coherent and reasonable economic plan regarding currency, pensions, etc. they would have probably made it, it all was rushed.

    They have a whole generation (maybe less) to plan it, and wait for the resolution and, maybe, implosion of the EU to get there and plan ahead. If The UK gets out of the EU (probably) this will restart the debate, and that’s not the Scottish sentiment. But as we know getting Scotland into the dysfunctional eurozone and the EU would not fix any of its problems neither.

    1. proximity1

      RE: “a coherent and reasonable economic plan regarding currency”–

      Strange– that objection, which was often leveled, with good cause, at the proponents of the Euro–including Barroso and so many others–never slowed them down in their determination to launch it. The critics have largely been vindicated. The structural discontinuities found across the E.U.’s various economies found a paper-cover but remained and festered beneath it. Finally, with a world-wide economic crisis, the house of cards fell apart–though these people remain in denial.

      Why is it that only the Scottish nationalists who have to meet this coherency-in-currency requireemnt? Neo-liberal economics is full of rank nonsense and its partisans don’t feel the slightest inclination to admit this or to apologise for it. Like most people, they’re content to demand their place in power and to improvise as necessary concerning details as to what to do with the power.

      1. Ignacio 2

        Put simply: they don’t have the media control neither political power or the ideological traction the european project had (both amongst the politician apparatchik and a big part of the population, when it was implemented).

        The Scottish independence has to be won (if) “fairly” (ie. democratically, throught the people), as they are not in the top of the power structure (the City of London is in this case) and cannot pull the strings, so they have to at least present a compelling plan to get the population support. Also breaking up is never perceived the same way as a unity project (like the EU was presented, even if in practice it’s anything but it), less in a globalized world of huge regional powers. Yeah it’s not a fair fight, and probably it would be better (for practical matters), if the political trens was redirected and changed in London instead to have to split a political union to counter neoliberal policies, but is how it is right now.

        1. Moneta

          I find it mind boggling when the no camp keeps on telling the yes camp how their nation is a leach on the union and should count their blessings… and no one attacks this line of reasoning. They did the same thing with QC…. if they were so useless, they should be happy to get rid of them! It’s the typical dysfunctional couple argument: “You are useless. Oops…sorry I really meant to say I love you.”

          If the City and England does not want to let the go and fights dirty because that piece gives it synergy, it must mean that Scotland has quite a bit of value. It think that argument can be used.

  9. The Dork of Cork

    I don’t know where thIs grossly false meme comes from.
    I see it everywhere.
    “Europe deeply fears fragmentation”
    It was Europe which pushed regionalism (but in their image) from the 1980s and beyond.

    The reality of separation from this dastardly union is not nice.
    We have the perfect example of this.
    When Ireland joined the larger union in 79 its (albeit rump) domestic economy imploded in the longest and deepest depression in Western Europe at that time.
    Its “recovery” post 88 was nothing more then a credit hyperinflation / capital dump.
    Now Ireland as a country no longer exists.
    Residents living in this jurisdiction get these absurdly named “report cards”
    The objectives of the economy has obviously nothing to do with the people living in it.
    Scottish people are doomed anyhow but they were sort of lucky they escaped the euro hydra.

  10. paul

    I wouldn’t get too carried away with the idea that is being pushed that it was only the poor that voted for yes.
    That is an idea that has enormous appeal to the likes of Lord Ashcroft of Belize.
    It is a convenient way to dismiss the fact that 45% did vote for what they saw as an opportunity to try something a little different.
    It was a totally fear based project.
    I went to funeral on the day of the referendum and the minister slipped into his address that he was sure that the lady who had passed would have been voting no because she loved the queen.(Though it wasn’t the queen that allowed her, an 84 year old with lifelong learning difficulties to live a relatively happy life)
    I imagine many of his colleagues had been feeding their flock with that message for the past year.

  11. Moneta

    This is not going away. If these separatist groups everywhere do not see better work and financial conditions over time, they will get louder.

    After the corruption leading to the credit crisis and the even more amplified corruption to prop up the system, I just don’t see how we get out of this pickle without sacrificing at least a generation.

  12. Moneta

    Many like to blame the elite for their divide and conquer techniques between the young and the old. IMO, most elite are not planning this divide and conquer, it is just happening systemically.

    I would like to point out that this argument is invalidated by this separation movement. This is an instance where creating too much financial discrepancy and discord between the young and the old would lead to the elite shooting themselves in the foot. If this situation persists or worsens, the young under 65 will force a change in the system which will penalize everyone over 1 or 2 decades. And in a best case scenario, this discord could force England to give more power to Scotland.

    With 7 billion people out there, the laws of unintended consequences are out in full force.

  13. Banger

    I always thought Scottish independence would be a good way to put a wrench in the imperialist machine. I never thought this was a realistic option yet 45% seemed to think it was. That was kind of amazing in itself.

    If this spurs a decentralization scheme in the UK and, hopefully, will call for less “defense” spending and less concentration on British intel and covert services to do Washington’s more intense dirty work (they do you know) then that would be great. None of this will likely have an effect on poverty and jobs in the short run but may inspire some creativity rather than this obsession with status quo and feeding oligarchs money.

    1. paul

      There is absolutely no chance of that. Scotland,being discrete and pretty homogeneous, has a long standing independence movement.
      Nothing like that exists in england and its pretty weak in wales.
      In the UK electoral system, first past the post, monolithic party organisation and that deadweight of political patronage, the house of lords, mean that change can never happen.
      scottish independence was the only challenge to that and now it has been seen off, its back to looting and game(great game)shooting.
      They preserved their position through the ruthless levearge of the establishment (formal and informal) and I have no doubt they will feel blessed to proceed as they wish.

  14. KFritz

    Have a look at a geographical representations of the vote. Only Glasgow Metro and Dundee voted Yes.–graphic-9743248.html

    And here’s a lament that none of the British media outlets bothered with exit polling.

  15. ChrisPacific

    For here in this multi-deprived inner city area, the average life expectancy of a male is just 53.9 years.

    Well, that explains why the No vote was so dominant in the oldies bracket: the ones who might have voted Yes are dead.

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