Tag Archives: Scottish independence referendum

Writing About Brexit: Scottish independence now?

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 22nd January 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

The democratic case for a second Scottish referendum on independence is pretty clear.

In November 2014, 55.5% of those in Scotland who voted – a shade under 47% of the total electorate, given an 84.5% turnout – voted for Scotland to Remain in the UK. This following a campaign by Labour, the Tories, & the LibDems, which pushed very strongly by both direct and indirect campaigning, that if Scotland became independent, Scotland would no longer be a member of the EU.
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Writing About Indyref2020 and Brexit

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 20th December 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

I did not listen to the live debate in the House of Commons today. The Withdrawal Agreement bill passed second reading 358 votes to 234 – a majority substantially larger than the 80-vote government majority.

In part this is because I genuinely didn’t feel I can face it – after all, we already knew how it ends, wiith a majority of 80 Tory MPs. I am going to follow what has happened in other ways (there’s always Hansard) and write it up at some point before we return to the Withdrawal Agreement debate in January.

Yesterday I skipped listening to the indyref2020 debate in the Scottish Parliament to listen to the Queen’s Speech instead. The result in Holyrood was as predictable as today’s debate will be in Westminster: the SNP and the Greens together have a majority for the independence referendum, and they outvoted the Labour, Tory, and LibDem MSPs against it.

There is a good Twitter thread about the debate by Sara Sheridan, a Scottish writer.

All that remains is for Boris Johnson to grant a Section 30 order, or – if things get sufficiently extreme – for Nicola Sturgeon to go ahead without one.

“Sufficiently extreme” is my speculation, and I’m thinking on the lines of major food and drugs shortages following no-deal or very hard Brexit: no-deal Brexit is now unlikely, and hard Brexit isn’t going to happen til 31st December 2020. The Scottsh Parliamentary elections will take place in May 2021, and if SNP and Green again have a majority, there isn’t really a democratic reason to reject a second indyref.

One coherent argument against indyref2 – or against EUref2, which won’t now happen – is that Boris Johnson will simply summon his team of dishonest-social-media-makers and run a hidden campaign urging people not to vote.

To be clear:

In my opinion, regardless of whether a referendum is legislated to be legally binding, it gains moral authority in itself and in international law if turnout is equivalent to or higher than your average general election, and the result shows a very clear majority for independence – and especially if the result shows the majority of the electorate voted for independence. We had that kind of overwhelming result when Scotland voted to re-establish our Parliament with tax-raising powers: and the 2014 referendum got a strikingly-high turnout (much higher than the turnout for the 2016 referendum).

So Boris Johnson’s simplest method of destroying the validity of a Scottish referendum would be running online campaigns under the table convincing people not to vote, and then pointing at the low turn out as a reason not to honour the referendum result.

This might work.

Or it might not.

Because it *doesn’t* work against grassroots campaigns where people know something isn’t so and can say so loud and clear.

You’ve probably never heard of Marky Booth. At least, I never had. He is, self-described, a young student – early 20s – who graduated Edinburgh University with a First in Politics and International Relations and was a research asisstant for the SNP. He was active in the Scottish independence youth movement when at university and mentions going to Young Scots for Independence karaoke nights. While living in Wales he did some research work for Wings Over Scotland and ran a site called independence dot ws which he then handed over to someone else called Michael Wright to run for him. Independence dot ws has a gofundme link asking for donations. Marky Booth was unexpectedly anti-trans and anti “the woke brigade” in the independence movement – I mean unexpectedly for a supposed-21-year-old, since the rejection of LGBT rights and equality is a very, very generational thing.

Archibald Cameron, who blogs as The Mammoth Whale, discovered that none of this was true, and he did it by asking. No one in the Edinburgh SNP branch or elsewhere remembers or is able to find any trace of a research assistant named Marky Booth. No one recognises the photos. No one in the Edinburgh independence youth movements remembers Marky Booth: no one who went to the YSI karaoke nights ever met him. The photos with a background all look American. There is no degree in Politics and International Relations offered at Edinburgh University. His photo of his fiance’s hand with a ring on it is a stock photo and when asked to provide a timestamped photo of himself he said he was ill, said he had checked into hospital, said he’d made a suicide attempt, and then deleted his account.

Some of this could have been done anywhere by anyone. But what’s telling – and particularly Scottish – is that the community Marky Booth claimed to belong to was available for questioning and didn’t know him. This would apply to any well-connected community, of course. (To my fannish friends. think if someone out of nowhere suddenly claimed to be a BNF/SMOF who’d been to all the Worldcons and done lots of work for fandom: if they did, there would be so many fans around who really *had* gone to those Worldcons and knew people who knew people and would be able to say, definitely: Nope, we never heard of you.) But the point is: Scotland is a small country. Edinburgh, as we Edinburghers are fond of complaining to each other, is a remarkably small city. People know people who know people who know people.

Last time – in 2014 – the campaign for and against independence was very much a town-hall meeting, face-to-face argument campaign. It took place online too – Stuart Campbell, of the late Wings Over Scotland account, made a career out of it. But Stuart Campbell, greatly though I dislike him, was upfront and clear about who he was and where he was living.

Marky Booth may be “really” a man in his forties called Michael Wright who lives in Aberdeen. If we ever find out, it will be because of the gofundme account: which was indubitably set up by a Michael Wright. When you ask for money under a false identity, the police may be interested enough to investigate.

I am more hopeful that, when indyref2 happens, we will be able to see off the bots and the fake news than I am that Labour and the media are prepared for Boris Johnson running yet another lying Facebook campaign when he decides to call the next general election. So long as Labour is tearing itself apart over whether it was Corbyn or Brexit that lost them all of those voters, they’re not going to have a campaign strategy to counterattack the lying social media.

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A year ago today…

keep-calm-and-voteI voted No.

Am I sorry, ashamed, apologetic that I voted No?

Never in this life.

I don’t think anyone should feel apologetic or ashamed or sorry for how they voted in the referendum: we came together in the largest turnout since the 1950s, after two years of intense debate. Each of us voted, and. as agreed, we abide by the majority. Everyone who voted in the referendum voted rightly, whether it was Yes or No.

If I’d known on 18th September 2014 what I know now on 18th September 2015, would I have voted differently?
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What shall we do today?

Keep Calm and Vote1. Vote.

97% of those eligible to vote have registered, including many first-time voters. In principle, there could be 4.28 million votes cast today. Anything above 3,424,000 votes cast is record-breaking: that’s over 80%, highest turnout in Scotland in five decades.

Vote Yes: vote No: if you can’t make up your mind go to your polling station and write “Undecided” or “Team Scotland” or “A plague on both your houses” on your ballot. But go to the booth, stare at your ballot, see if you can’t make up your mind for one or the other: and if you can, then make your vote, and no repining.

If you want your vote counted, best to use the pencil provided in the voting booth to make a clear X in the box next to your choice. (Yes, you can use a pen if you want, but the Electoral Commission provides pencils because they make a thick black line that is very difficult to erase and won’t run or blur if the ballot paper gets wet.)
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Unrepresented by media

Scotland's FutureLike most bloggers, I started because I felt I had something to say that wasn’t being said in the mainstream media.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist: I respect and admire his writing in general.

But with regard to Scottish independence? I wish he’d shut up.

There’s nothing personal about this. I wish all of the politicians, columnists, and other People Paid To Have An Opinion would get their know-nothing nebs out of our referendum.

Should Scotland be an independent country?
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Looking ahead to May 2015

Everyone in Scotland is so focussed on the referendum that they’re forgetting the European elections on 22nd May. (And that’s worrying, because low turnout is how parties like UKIP get in.)

Charlie Bloom on BBC Question Time challenging Nigel Farage

Illustrating this forgetfulness about the European elections, last night on Have I Got News For You an English comedian made a joke about “Methadone elections” and Susan Calman took audible offence because she’d forgotten about the EuroElections and thought he meant the independence referendum was methadone: but the English comedian had forgotten about the Scottish referendum – he was making a joke about the methadone of the European Parliament elections compared to the heroin smack of a General Election.
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Arguing the wrong debate

The currency debate is a pure waste of time.

Keep Calm and Waste TimeThe SNP’s line if Scotland votes Yes has for several years been that Scotland will continue to use rUK’s pound. This is a good campaign strategy as far as it goes, since it means people don’t have to think about the logistics of setting up a Mint in Scotland to produce our own coins and a national supply of banknotes: it means people don’t have to think about changing currencies if they go to England/Wales post-independence: it means people don’t have to think about monetary change as a symbol of the huge changes of independence.

So, good campaign strategy, but it’s a completely rubbish way of deciding on a currency for Scotland post-independence.

To counter this SNP campaign strategy, the UK government/Better Together campaign have announced they will not “permit” Scotland to make use of the pound post-independence, and to counter that… but never mind. The whole thing gets indescribably messy, with both sides grandstanding more and more, and the whole thing is an utter waste of time.
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What should the LibDems do after May 2015?

Nick Clegg tuition fees 2010The next General Election for the UK will be on 7th May 2015. In Scotland, we’re all looking at 18th September 2014, but for the Westminster parties, the general election campaigning has already begun.

At the 2010 general election, the results were Conservatives 307, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57: the LibDems dashed into a coalition with the Tories, and the hugely unpleasant mess that followed is still miring us up.

It’s fair to say that without the LibDem decision to join the Tory party and keep them in government (despite Tories not having won an election since 1992) – there likely would not have been a majority-SNP government in Holyrood: conceivably, if enough Scots had voted LibDem in 2011, there might not be an independence referendum this year.
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Words are worthless

A Model Constitution for Scotland, Elliot BulmerI have a talent for putting words together effectively and clearly. This talent has been honed by many years of work. I enjoy doing it. And I’m fortunate enough that I have for many years been able to earn my living by doing it, though almost invariably when I’m paid to write my name did not go on my writing – it belongs to my employer: it’s been a rule of thumb for most of my working life that I can either get credited or get money, rarely both.

I regard this as unfortunate, not as a moral value. I like getting paid for doing work, and I like getting the credit for doing good work. I have argued in this blog multiple times for multiple reasons that people have a right to get paid. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy your work, or how good you are at it: if someone else intends to profit from your work, you have a right to get paid for it.

Article 23.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

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Newsnight: there was no meltdown

Lallans Peat Worrier, an SNP blogger at an Oxford college, writes:

At some point in our lives, most of us should have encountered a moment when we were surrounded by people for whom some cherished conviction of our own was absolutely anathema. Whether representative of the wider population or not, this “common sense in the room” can be intoxicating. For an extreme instance, watch Scottish Questions at Westminster, which is now devoted to pouring vial after vial of scorn over SNP heads. In the great baying mob of MPs, the isolated Nationalist delegation’s voices are thin, reedy and invariably drowned out in a haughty chorus of gleeful insolence.

The SNP said they’d hold a referendum on independence after they’d won two elections. Salmond said, before the 2011 election, that if the SNP won the referendum would be held in the second half of the Scottish Parliament. The SNP have won two elections, and so have a democratic mandate to hold a referendum on independence, and a right – seeing as they are in government – to say when it shall be held.

That is doubtless very aggravating for Labour, who have a Westminster majority of Scottish MPs, but that’s democracy for you.

I heard that Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Glasgow South West, career Labour politician since 1978, and currently still chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee despite having called the SNP “neo-fascists” and having threatened a fellow MP on the committee with a “doing”, had now had a “meltdown” over exactly this issue on Newsnight Scotland on Tuesday.

So I checked it out while it was still on BBC iPlayer (till 11:29PM Tuesday 14th August, if you want to check it out yourself) but the segment is now on Youtube for all time, or at least till Google get a request to take it down.
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