What Happens To Conservative Voters In The Event Of A Yes Win?

Earlier today I was in a Twitter conversation with a No voter, and something they said gave me the idea for this article. I was asked about what happens to the 420,000 Tory voters in Scotland if we go independent. I’d never given that any thought before. I recently discovered that Scotland’s voting population is around 4.1m. The Tories make up around 1/10th of that total. There’s symmetry with that figure. Scotland is around 1/10th of the population size of the UK.

My argument around democracy is summed up by the statement that England always gets the government that England votes for, while Scotland also always gets the government that England votes for. The counterpoint to that, is that it’s a UK election, and the UK gets the government it votes for. Scotland could vote Labour in every single constituency, if England wants a Tory government, we’re vastly outnumbered, and we get a Tory government.

As things stand, the Tories have pockets of support in Scotland. They have a larger share of the vote that I knew, but even then, they’re still a minority party in Scotland. Small ‘c’ conservatives have the fact that Westminster controls many of the powers concerning Scotland, and the budget for the devolved powers. They also have the fact that Labour are campaigning to their small ‘c’ conservative counterparts in English marginals. Either way, the upstream pipe is very conservative friendly. An SNP government in Holyrood is limited in how much it can differentiate Scotland. Independence changes all of that.

Imagine you’re someone who believes in small government, that taxes should be as low as possible, and that the markets are best suited to inject value for money into public services. Right now, your ideology is coming from Westminster, regardless of what Holyrood do. You’re a minority in Scotland, but your views are represented in places Holyrood can’t damage. If Scotland goes independent that upstream is disconnected. You’re on your own as a minority trying to swim against the tide to get your views represented.

There are of course many little areas where you could get some traction in legislation, but plenty of big ones where you have no hope. Not only are the vast majority of Scots passionate about keeping the NHS as a public service, owned by the public and ran for those who need it, the Yes Scotland plans are to enshrine that into the constitution. You have zero chance of building any campaign to privatise it, and even if you can win people round, it’s protected so you can’t do anything. The sentiment around keeping the NHS publicly owned, paid by the taxpayer and run for the benefit of the people is also extended to the whole social safety net.

Trident is another area of almost universal agreement among the people of Scotland. This is represented by many of our MSPs. A firm part of the Yes Scotland plans are that Trident is removed from Scotland’s waters and budgets, and the base refitted as a regular base. This is a one shot deal. After it’s gone and the base refitted, that submarine has literally sailed. You don’t have a chance of reversing it, or building a new replacement for Trident. Arguably, these are the only two areas where the people from all political hues are almost unanimous, both of which will go in a very left of centre way, and both are irreversible.

In some very key areas, Scotland will move very distinctly a few steps to the left. The majority of the politicians and voting public are behind that. As a minority group with no upstream, where do right of centre people go? Is Scotland going to be a place they can live in? I suspect some of them will see a Yes win as the end of an era, and prefer to move to rUK, while others will tough it out and try to win the minor battles.

I’ve never voted SNP, but I think that’s because I never actually looked at them. I came to political awareness at the end of the Thatcher era, where anything other than a Labour or Tory vote was a wasted vote; at least to my naive mind, in hoping to pick a winning party. After devolution I should have looked at them. I didn’t. That was my mistake. I keep hearing that the SNP are a right wing party. Their policies towards the poor and vulnerable are very left wing. Perhaps they’re more right wing in other areas, like big business friendly, I don’t know. Maybe right of centre people have something to stay for, with the SNP or Labour as winners of little battles.

Yes Scotland TV Advert: A Missed Opportunity?

Having just watched the latest Yes Scotland TV advert, I was drawn by two things, the first I expected, the other I did not. Having been part of the Yes movement for a few months, I’ve seen a tidal wave of positivity for the future. This was the focus of the advert, the desire for independence on a personal level, upscaled to that of your country. The part I didn’t expect, was that the Yes movement is a multi cultural movement. There are people who were born in Scotland, side by side with people born outside Scotland and who call Scotland their home. There are people with all sorts of accents, from all backgrounds and all skin colours; yet almost everyone in this advert is white with a Scottish accent.

I think what heightens that sense is the constant barrage from people who haven’t been to Scotland, and only know Scotland through the mainstream media who try to portray the SNP and the wider Yes movement as some racist, anti-English thing. Those of us who live here and experience it first hand know that’s complete rubbish. It’s just more of a missed opportunity than a criticism. It’d have been more powerful if that diversity had been shown in the advert. If they’re planning another one, I hope they take that into account.

The Threat Of Independence

We keep hearing from Better Together about guarantees in Westminster of X, Y or Z. Our grant to pay for our NHS is guaranteed, so to suggest staying in the Union puts it in any danger is ridiculous is just one example. Those guarantees are worthless in the long term. They are guaranteed for that election cycle only. They are guaranteed until the winner of the next General Election starts their first day in the job. Even if the Tories win with David Cameron as their leader, it’s the start of a new term. He is not beholden to any promises from the previous term. If it’s Ed Miliband who wins, he’s not beholden to guarantees David Cameron made. They could of course extend those guarantees voluntarily, but why would they? They simply tie the hands of that Westminster government.

Better Together point to various years of funding, to explain that Scotland hasn’t done too badly. We’ve had plenty of money allocated to us for different things, why would that change if we vote No? The thing is, there’s one vital part of the equation missing after we vote No; the threat of independence. While we’re part of the Union, Westminster have to pull their punches when dealing with us. They have to restrain themselves, even if their every instinct is to put us back in our place. For decades now the threat of independence has given us more and more; the biggest of those prizes was a parliament of our own and devolution. We were meant to be content with that but we weren’t. It gave the SNP a platform to create Scotland as a different and more socially democratic country than rUK. It gave the SNP the power to demand more and more. That only happens when they have the threat of independence hanging over them.

The Labour members of Better Together like to use the “Labour will get elected and do X” as their get out. It’s looking increasingly unlikely in the short term, but even if they did. What about it? This Labour party are just as right wing as the Tories that Scotland has rejected. That’s no respite. Even if they were a genuine respite, this is short term thinking. Within a decade at most, Labour will be voted out of Westminster and we’ll have another Tory government. A No vote guarantees that we’ll get a Tory government around half of the time, with respite coming from a lesser Tory government the other half.

All of the guarantees are valid until 2015. What about 2020? 2025? 2030? 2035? Ask any rUK chancellor details about their budget the day before they announce it, and they won’t tell you. How can Better Together guarantee funding indefinitely? They can’t. They can only guarantee it in the short term. This referendum is for life, not just the next few years. Only independence guarantees our funding.

Imagine what happens if Westminster decide that we’ve diversified too far and make them look bad. They cut back on our grants to various places and remove some of our devolved powers back to Westminster. That sends large swathes of the population, at least temporarily to the SNP. The SNP come into Holyrood with a pissed off population and a mandate for independence. If this happens while Holyrood are able to ask the people, they will. The starting point is around 50%. By the time the ballot comes, it’s an easy 75% in favour of Yes. Not only that, but the UK parties kill any chance that their Scottish regional departments will ever see government in Holyrood. They lose Scotland, and influence in Scotland.

The outcome is permanent. All of the Westminster parties have their own ideas on what powers they’re offering Scotland if we vote No. They all have one policy in common. The ability for Holyrood to call another independence referendum is removed. If we don’t take this chance to escape, that door is slammed shut. The threat of us escaping no longer exists. Why would Westminster still treat us as fair as Better Together say we have been treated up to this point? We’ve given up our only protection. They can decimate Scotland. There’s nothing we can do about it. In that same scenario as described above, Holyrood can’t do anything. So what if they lose Scotland to the SNP. Holyrood is impotent and we’re stuck with whatever we get.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Westminster have played the narrative that Scotland is being subsidised by the UK. In reality it’s the other way around. The public have been fed the idea that they are paying Scotland far too much, to subsidise things like free prescriptions in Scotland. There’s a large political mood for Scotland to be brought into line with other policies from rUK, by slashing our grants. Remember that the UK General Election is decided by Labour and the Tories concentrating all of their firepower into tempting voters in around one hundred marginals in England. The Westminster first past the post system means they can, and do ignore the rest of the country. Both parties will be looking to punish Scotland more, to appeal to those people.

Aside from parties, Westminster only allowed the referendum to take place at all because they thought it’d be a no brainer. They assumed it was a massive own goal by the SNP, that the people of Scotland would reject it, specially when Devo Max was left off the ballot paper at the insistence of the Westminster parties. From day one, momentum has been with Yes. It’s went from around 35% to almost 50% in just a couple of years. It forced Westminster to actually fight for a win where they thought they didn’t have to. They won’t just drift off happily without wanting to exact some revenge.

The Myth Of Being The World’s Policemen

There’s a difference in the world view among Yes and No supporters worth exploring. Yes supporters tend to see Scotland as being perfectly happy within it’s own borders, that we should become one nation of many contributing to diplomatic solutions. No supporters tend to see the UK as one of the world’s policemen, interfering in any country we see fit, to help destroy terrorists or help the oppressed. It’s a noble thing to do, to help others in need, and our duty as a superior country to do it. In the case of colonies, they see it almost as a parental duty.

When you stop to think that through, you’ll see it’s bogus. If we were acting as the world’s policemen for noble reasons, we’d get involved in every humanitarian situation that springs up. We don’t. We only ever get involved when those people are sitting on lots of oil, or it’s some strategic spot and some group we’ve helped to power in the past. We never intervene to achieve an outcome that the locals want. We always intervene to get an outcome that we want. That’s just trying to wrap Imperialism in some noble sounding sentiment.

The self aggrandising sentiment behind that self appointed world policemen title is incredible. Look at the government we have in the UK. Look at the UK establishment, Labour, Tories, LibDems, Lords and Monarchy. Its a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. They don’t even rule the UK in the interests of the people, and they do that without a military occupation muddying the waters.

So many of the world’s intractable problems come from the Imperial powers and their self serving decisions. Most of their power has decayed, but their thirst for control is unabated. They’ve bought into the mentality that they’re doing countries a favour by constantly meddling. Imagine how many long term conflicts would have a chance of fixing themselves if countries like the UK stopped thinking of themselves as the world policemen and just left?

If we weren’t hell bent on meddling for our own aims in other’s countries, they wouldn’t be as determined to train as terrorists to come to the UK to get revenge. Ask yourself what you’d do, if a foreign country from halfway around the world sent it’s troops into your country on the pretext of a humanitarian mission, and spend it’s occupying time and energy annexing your assets and propping up some dictator you and your people can’t stand? You watch the world news, and see that country’s media proudly discussing how they’re helping spread democracy, all the while you’re under occupation, and things like a wedding party being droned is just written of as accidental collateral damage.

From Westminster’s point of view, Scotland would be great if it weren’t for the Scots. They want to ensure an intervention that suits their needs, regardless of how it affects us. Put simply, they need our gas and oil. It doesn’t matter to them whether we have to suffer Westminster Tory governments, or the austerity they bring. It doesn’t matter if we’re in the blast radius of Trident, or that an increasing number of us rely on foodbanks. What we want is irrelevant. We are a lucrative revenue generating property.

It’s the difference between whether you believe the media cheerleaders of these policies, to think we’re a force for good in the world, or whether you look at the reality. The only people who think we are a force for good are those who gain from it. It helps them sleep at night, knowing the damage their greed wreaks around the planet. If the media showed the reality from our victim’s perspective, the public would not approve. Not only is this a problem morally, it’s costing us a fortune. Imagine if our military weren’t stationed in lots of countries acting as the world’s police.

When the US President gives his very weak backing to the Union, he’s not doing it because he gives a hoot about the people of Scotland. He’s doing it from the US’s own interests. The UK are partners in this world police beat with them. If Scotland goes independent, rUK loses Scotland’s oil and gas revenue to help fund their part of that beat.

It’s not only the UK with a disconnect. Look at how our media see Russia. They meddle, just as we do. Their political elites think just as ours do, that we’re the world’s policemen doing others a favour by helping out. They just have a different beat than we do. Look carefully at the media reporting of the damage they’re doing, undermining democracy, creating instability etc. Don’t delude yourself, we do the same stuff. We pretend we’re the good guy too.

Jar Jar Murphy

As a lifelong Star Wars fan, particularly the novels, I’ve built up an astonishing understanding of that universe; all of which amounts to nothing more than pub quiz value. As I was watching Jim Murphy being interviewed on Scotland Tonight, I suddenly made a connection between him and Jar Jar Binks. In Attack Of The Clones, the Supreme Chancellor gets his mandate to go to war, by convincing Jar Jar to use his position as a stand in Senator to call for “emergency powers” for the Supreme Chancellor. This is totally unspecified. What emergency powers? Not only that, but in the uproar, the Senate morphs into chants of “vote now”. In one scene Jar Jar proposes unspecified new powers, they vote, and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine commits the Republic to war.

Better Together have been trying the line that there are already extra powers agreed by all three Westminster parties. These will kick in after we vote No. No matter which party wins the General Election in 2015, those powers are guaranteed. In the same interview Jim Murphy said that Yes Scotland had to provide a plan B on the currency. It’s important to know what we’ll be spending before we vote in September. I’ve already said why I believe Yes Scotland’s claims, but we’ll set that side as it’s not relevant to this article.

When asked about “if there’s a Tory government in 2015 in Westminster, will he back a vote to bring more powers to Scotland”? He refused to even consider a plan B for that. He’s only working on the assumption of a Labour government in 2015 in Westminster. So “would he back a vote to bring more powers to Scotland from a Labour government in Westminster?” Well, no. That’s down to the six hundred or so MPs, and what they decide those powers are going to be. He wasn’t going to be tied down to backing a bill before it’s even been discussed or agreed on. That’s fine as far as it goes, however, what happened to those guaranteed powers that Better Together have assured us are agreed between the parties and will come regardless?

He’s down to individual parties and what they want to offer. So what about the Labour side of this plan? Well, that’s something to be announced when Labour announce their 2015 General Election campaign. So their plans won’t even be announced until next year. What was that about the people needing to know before they vote in September again Jim?

Jim Murphy has done the equivalent of Jar Jar Binks. He’s advocating more unspecified powers, and expecting people to vote blind. Jar Jar Binks is widely seen as an embarrassment among the Star Wars audience, so maybe Jim has more in common than just that. In fairness to Jim Murphy, he’s just one of the Better Together people who are trying this trick, and hoping people don’t notice. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Scottish Labour have retreated into their own little world, where they think they’re still a credible and respectable party, and that anyone pointing out logical flaws is just a nationalist out to get them.

Show Your Workings

Many years ago when I was in school, I remember sitting a maths exam. At the top of the paper it said ‘show your workings’. That way if you got the answer wrong, the people marking it could see if you understood how to get the answer, and just got one part of the calculation wrong. If so, you’d still get marks for it. This principle doesn’t just apply to maths exams. You can apply it to politics, and the Scottish Independence Referendum in particular.

I’ve seen a lot of Better Together people just repeating conclusions and claims, without showing their workings. To give you an example of what I mean, I’ll make the claim that “we need independence to protect the NHS from the ever creeping privatisation we see in England”. The NHS is a devolved power already, so why would the NHS be under threat if we reject independence? It’s meaningless on its own. It’s just a statement. To give it weight, I need to show my workings of how I got to that conclusion.

With devolution, we have the power to decide where to spend the money we get in some areas like the NHS, what we don’t have, is the ability to decide how much money that is. Every year the UK Chancellor does the UK budget. He or she decides what to spend money on, what to increase spending on, what to decrease spending on, and what to keep level with inflation. All of that is political by the party in power to help their own ideology.

A significant number of Westminster MPs have investments in private health firms, so it’s in their own personal interests if those firms expand with new contracts. While they’re competing with a publicly owned NHS run for the benefit of the people who rely on the service, their market is limited. If the NHS is run into the ground, so that the only medical options people have are private, it’s a simple monopoly situation. You don’t have to try to keep your customers happy or provide good value if you have no competition. Where are they going to go?

The SNP government in Holyrood has taken a stand to protect the NHS. They’ve even included it in the new Scottish Constitution, so that a Labour govt in Holyrood couldn’t undo that protection. Not only does this stance limit these companies ability to expand into Scotland, it provides a thriving alternative model that the people in rUK can see. It makes them ask the question “why can’t we do that too?” That’s very uncomfortable when you’re trying to sell the idea that the only way to do healthcare is privatisation. It’s in Westminster’s interest that the Scottish NHS fails.

How could Westminster make the Scottish NHS fail? It’s a devolved power. We can choose not to spend that money on private firms. All true, but we don’t have control over how much money we get. Imagine the budget gets slashed in half next year. We can’t provide the same amount of services the way they are now. We have no choice but to cut. That would deny those services to the people who are relying on them, in addition to lots of job loses. The alternative is that we’re forced to turn to private firms to run some services. That way people would still be treated, they’d just be treated by private firms instead of the NHS. What happens if the budget is slashed in half the year after? All we can do is rely on going back to Westminster with caps in hand, sucking up to the right people and begging for more of our money back to run our NHS.

This is my workings for the claim “we need independence to protect the NHS from the ever creeping privatisation we see in England”. You may agree or disagree with any part of that, but I’m showing you how I got to that conclusion. When you’re talking to people from both Yes and No camps, look to see their workings.

I’ve found that Better Together are very deficient in this area. They come to some conclusion that doesn’t add up when you explore how they got to that conclusion. They rely on some pretty wild assumptions, or very twisted interpretation of some quotes that don’t stand up to scrutiny. They often just repeat them without ever being asked how they get to that conclusion. It’s like they haven’t actually thought about it, and are little more than parrots repeating slogans.

This is a moment in Scotland’s history. It’s important that people think about what Scotland could become. Yes people have all given these things a great deal of thought. They can show their workings for any of their conclusions, and they’re happy to do so. It’s just up to you to listen.

Ask What You Already Know, To Find Out What You Don’t Know

Many years ago I used to work in a store selling electrical goods. The product lines would change all the time, with new models and ranges replacing old ones. Sometimes the models would change to a new specification and the only difference would be a letter or number tucked away on the box. As a salesperson, there’s limits on how well you can understand any one model. Unless it was a TV or a Hi-Fi, it would sit on display without ever being plugged in. Even when it was plugged in, you’d only ever demo the basic functions when speaking to a customer. You learn functions, instead of products. You also know that you can improvise around explaining those functions because the customer likely doesn’t know any better, and they’re trying to keep an eye on the big picture, that the little details will just pass over them.

Not only was it a question of having too many new products, it’s also about time spent on learning compared to sales lost with misinformation. It’s just not worth your time or hassle to try to scratch the surface of any particular product, specially as a minimum wage worker and customers are in the store to earn commission from.

You’re also the last person to ask for honest advice about the products. Sales people are on commission. They want to sell you what’s best for them. They always have sales targets. Those targets will be used in performance reviews, and could be the difference between an end of year bonus, and the sack. Sometimes they’ll give you misinformation because they’ve been misinformed. Stores sometimes offer their staff training on a subject, but it’s never written objectively for the customers benefit. It’s written to help sell more product. Sometimes they’ll do it because they don’t want to appear to have a lack of knowledge by asking someone else. Sometimes they want to steer you towards a product with an additional bonus commission, even if it’s not suitable for you. The bottom line is that they want to sell you a product, even if another store has a more suitable product for you.

Why does this have anything to do with the Scottish Independence Referendum I hear you ask. My time doing this gave me the insight of a salesperson. I took that away with me. I’m now painfully aware of that when I go into a store as a customer. I have no idea if I’m dealing with a salesperson who has general knowledge about all the products, but amounts to no more use than me comparing the price tickets and specs for myself, or whether I can actually ask questions and get honest answers. I’ve found a good way to test them.

I ask them questions I already know the answers to. If they give the answers I already know to be correct, or they excuse themselves to go ask another member of staff, then return with the correct answers, it tells me that I can ask them questions I don’t already know the answers to, and that I’m likely to get honest answers. If they give me answers I know to be wrong, I can push them to explain further. That gives a hint to whether they’re just improvising, or whether they’re mistaken but believe themselves to be telling the truth. The former means I end the conversation and walk out. The latter I can choose whether to give them another chance with a new question, push back, exposing myself as someone who does know the subject at hand, or walk out.

Keep the fact that you’re testing them to yourself. It’s up to you whether you push back or not. In public, they’re playing to the peanut gallery. By exposing the fact that you know they’ve lied, it could influence others nearby.

For people who are undecided in the referendum, try visiting a Yes Scotland and Better Together stalls in your area, visit both of their shops, or attend a debate. Ask questions you already know the answers to. Ask both sides. There is a lot of conflicting claims on the internet, so how do you know your answers are correct? That’s tricky. A more fool proof test is on voting records. All of that is a matter of public record. It’s also a binary yes or no. There’s no interpretation.

You don’t know why an MSP voted for or against a specific bill, only which way they voted. By checking their voting records on bills around the same genre you can see a pattern. You can also dig into transcripts to see what they’ve said during the negotiations for that bill. Look at what they’ve been arguing for or against. Look at who’s proposing it, or opposing it and why. All of that begins with the binary yes or no vote on each bill.

Try picking out a few of the contentious issues like the Iraq war, or the bedroom tax. Look at who voted for and against those. Pay attention to the SNP voting records as a party, and Alex Salmond’s in particular. He’s been an MP for four decades now, so his voting record goes back to the Thatcher era. Better Together have personalised their campaign around him, so it’s his record they’re trying to use. Now go ask both sides about it. Prepare your smartphone with screengrabs of voting records so you can fact check the claims on the spot. If one side tries to play on your ignorance by claiming a yes on a vote where they actually voted no, what else are they misleading you on? Can you trust them to be honest about anything?

For the past three weeks I’ve joined the Yes Scotland stand in my area. For the last two of those, there’s been a Better Together stand down the street. I’ve heard over and over from people who have been to the Better Together stand, and been told the SNP voted for the Iraq war among other things. If you don’t know the truth of those claims, you don’t know they’re flat out lying to you. If you do know, you can make that judgement.

I haven’t seen any Yes debate tactics around voting records. I’m standing with people who talk about issues and conclusions, by explaining how they come to those conclusions. You can only do that if you’ve examined the case and found it logically solid. If you haven’t examined your case, or it’s found wanting, you can’t use that to win people over. All you’re left with is trying to demonise the other side, by claiming they’re responsible for all the negative issues that people care about, and that they stand against all the positive things people want. The easiest way to do that, is claim wrongly that the SNP voted in ways they didn’t.

Arm yourselves with binary facts, and question both sides. It’s your country, your future and your vote counts.

Why I Believe Yes Scotland On The Currency Union

The Better Together campaign think they’ve found a few fatal flaws in the Yes Scotland plans for independence, and have been concentrating their firepower on those specific areas; the biggest one being the currency union. I’m not an economist, but I do have a very big picture understanding of the logic behind it. I’ll tell you why I believe Yes Scotland’s claims are accurate.

I should start by explaining what I mean by ‘fatal flaw’. The plans for breaking away from a long term and deeply rooted arrangement are going to be incredibly detailed. It’s all going to come down to negotiations between the SNP led Yes Scotland team, and Westminster. There is no way to foresee the results of those negotiations in advance. All you can do is take every item one at a time in every sector, and figure out a best result, a likely result, and a worst case result. Think of it like exam results.

A) We get the result that we wanted.
B) We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we got the one we expected.
C) We didn’t get the result we expected or wanted, but it’s something we can live with.

Across the board, both sides will get a majority of B’s, with some A’s and C’s thrown in. We can work around those C’s. None of these are fatal flaws, they’re just the result of negotiations. In negotiations nobody ever gets all they want. They all have to compromise. Fatal flaws are things that we absolutely need to get an A, and don’t. There is no B or C. Nobody goes into a negotiation with their backup plans on display. It makes sense to try to get your A in every negotiation, then compromise down to a B, with A’s in some other areas as conditions.

If the currency union is a fatal flaw, the date we finally go independent would simply be delayed as we go through the process to create our own currency. Instead of eighteen months, it’s three years. It’s not a big deal. The SNP are not an irresponsible government that they’d declare independence when we have no currency to use. If membership of the EU is a fatal flaw, we’ll have lots of instability. If membership of NATO is a fatal flaw if we remove Trident, well, we’ve jumped. It’s too late.

I don’t believe any of these are fatal flaws in the Yes Scotland plans. I don’t think there are any fatal flaws in the Yes Scotland plans. Here’s why.

The SNP are a professional, experienced political party, just like Labour, just like the Tories, and just like the LibDems. They all have different ideologies and policies, but they all share characteristics. The SNP are seen as the party of independence. Not only have they been the main party pushing for it for decades now, they’re the party currently in government in Holyrood pushing the policy to have a referendum and ask the people. They are the establishment force behind both the Yes Scotland white paper, and the campaign itself. It is of course a cross party, and no party campaign, specially at the grassroots level, but it’s SNP lead. This is a moment in our countries history. The SNP not only got us here, they’re campaigning strongly to get us over the line to independence.

The SNP and Alex Salmond will go down in history as a result of this referendum. If we do vote Yes, the SNP will be dealing with the aftermath. They can’t avoid it. The negotiations will be the responsibility of the SNP. If they get a terrible deal for Scotland, that will be their mark in history. Why would they do that? Independence is the foundation of their plans for Scotland in the decades to come. It’s in their interests to make that as solid as they can. If they’ve made some fatal error in their calculations, like a currency union, that will also be laid at their door. All politicians have a knack of attaching their names to things deemed a success by the public, and detaching their names from things seen as failure by the public. They can’t detach from the negotiations, or the first years in an independent Scotland.

Imagine they have made some fatal flaw in their plans. Imagine the country deteriorates into a failed state very quickly on the back of that assumption. Imagine Better Together are right, and that we’re out of the EU, or can’t use the pound. Do you think that major catastrophic flaw is something the SNP can survive? As a party, they’ve risen from a handful of people, to a credible opposition, to a credible and responsible government. They’ve always wanted extra powers for Scotland. They are in a sort of holding pattern right now, between policies they can implement under devolution, and what they would like to implement if they had full control. They’d be wiped out overnight. Their reputation would be shattered. Donors, activists, voters and supporters would vanish into the mist. That’d hand Scotland to Labour on a plate.

Don’t you think the SNP know that? Don’t you think their experienced career politicians, who are always seeking promotion and more power know that their careers are over if there’s any fatal flaws in the white paper? When it’s just a few people chatting in a pub, they can make statements like “we want independence for Scotland”. By the time they get into opposition in a devolved government, they’re much closer to being able to implement that. That’s when the white paper is really tested on the firing range. They won’t just take the word of a few party higher ups that it’s sound. They want to hammer it from every conceivable angle to ensure it’s sound. They know it may be their only chance to ask the question and put their case, and they know it will be in the firing line from Westminster.

In the event of a No win, the SNP carry on as before, trying to get more powers for Scotland, their Yes Scotland plans never actually tested. In the event of a Yes win, those would be exposed, and the SNP would be politically extinct.

A currency union is the pragmatic solution for both Scotland and rUK. It would however mean the Westminster parties conceding that Yes Scotland were right all along, after they’ve poured considerable firepower into saying Yes Scotland were wrong. It’s a blow to their credibility. It’s also a concession from Labour to the SNP. We’ve seen how petty and obsessed Labour are when it comes to the SNP.

Ed Miliband had said that without a currency union, it’d cost the UK economy billions of pounds. Later that day he said he’d veto a currency union with Scotland. In short, he’s saying that he’d knowingly cost the UK economy a fortune rather than concede a pragmatic and responsible solution. Quite apart from being incredibly irresponsible, it’s also a bluff. Do you think large business are going to sit by and watch Westminster cause them incredible damage? How would that affect donations to Labour from big business? The same goes for the Tories. In many things, you can almost see the puppet strings from big business morph into legislation and policy through compliant politicians.

What Is rUK’s “Plan B”?

We’ve heard Better Together pour concentrated fire into Yes Scotland’s plans for a currency union. “What’s your plan B?” I’d like to turn that around to ask Westminster what their plan B is for rUK if we do vote Yes. It will affect rUK too.

Scotland pays in more than it spends. It’s a net contributor to the UK’s finances. The rUK Chancellors would have to factor in that drop of income, in addition to the smaller overall pot. That affects what you can allocate to where, leading to cuts. The rUK military would not only lose some of it’s funding from that shrinking pot, but Scottish regiments to use as resources. How does that affect their ability to project themselves around the world? It’s less about numbers and more about speciality skills.

All of the Westminster parties are insisting that a currency union with Scotland is out of the question, regardless of the damage they know it will cause to the rUK economy. How does a different currency in Scotland affect people in rUK when they travel to or trade with Scotland? Is there going to be some sort of arrangement whereby both sides waive exchange charges?

Scotland has made it pretty clear where they stand on public ownership of public services being run for the benefit of the public. How does that type of country next door affect those same services in rUK, where they’re increasingly being privatised? If someone from Derby falls ill in Inverness and needs hospital treatment, what happens to them? Vice versa, for someone from Inverness falling ill in Derby? Better Together have already tried the scare story that those arrangements would break if Scotland becomes independent. Every time they do, the hospitals themselves debunk those claims.

The Tory / LibDem coalition have already announced more waves of austerity on the UK, some of that hasn’t kicked in yet. That’s from a budget that assumed it still had Scotland’s subsidy and oil revenues. When that’s revised, how much more brutal does austerity have to be to balance those books?

The only thing that keeps the UK’s credit rating as high as it is, is the future revenues of Scotland’s oil and gas. If Scotland goes independent, rUK lose that credit rating, making borrowing much more expensive. Yes Scotland have stated that without a currency union, Scotland does not take any of it’s debts or assets. How does that factor into the budget?

The UK is currently still in Imperialist mode, running happily alongside the US. What happens to rUK’s status in the world if Scotland removes Trident? Can it be housed in rUK? As I understand it, it’s a specialist thing, and the answer is no. Trident would be removed to a port in the US. Without a nuclear deterrent in rUK, how is rUK’s status with NATO? How does that affect their own view of the world when they no longer have a nuclear missile geographically next door to Europe, and closer to Russia than the US mainland?

If Scotland is out of the EU as Better Together insist would happen, how does that impact a flood of people and businesses flocking over the border to England? What impact does that have on demand for resources, increased traffic congestion, increased demand for everything. If those people are flocking over the border to be in the EU, what happens if the Westminster parties are forced to fight a UKIP led EU referendum and perform as ineptly as Better Together in the Scottish Independence Referendum, resulting in rUK leaving the EU?

There’s a General Election in 2015 in rUK as well as Scotland. From Scotland’s perspective it’s important for the SNP to win so the Yes Scotland negotiation teams don’t get disrupted or derailed. That looks all but certain right now. From rUK’s perspective, it’s important that the Tories and Labour agree on a plan B for rUK. they may change government during the negotiations. The last thing rUK or Scotland need is negotiations drawing to a halt, only to start again with new teams and new priorities. It’s why the Westminster parties came together to refuse the currency union, and to agree vague new powers for Scotland in the event of a No win.

These are only a few of the questions Westminster need to lay out as their plan B. They insist that they don’t have one, and that Scotland will vote No. Is this wise leadership? In the corporate world, they don’t take chances on election night by just getting in tight with one party. They get in tight with all potential winning parties, so that no matter what the electorate choose to do, they’re not caught with their pants down. The gap is getting very close. The momentum has only been one way. The question is whether Yes Scotland has built up enough momentum to get ahead by September 18th or not. On the ground in Scotland it feels inevitable. It feels like we’re on the cusp of independence. It’d be insane for Westminster to assume they don’t need a plan B.

The people of rUK deserve stability just as much as the people of Scotland, in knowing that their government have things thought out. They have contingency plans for everything else. It’s how day to day government works. They’re rarely in a position where an event happens somewhere and they have no plans for how to react. Why the irresponsibility over a referendum result that looks increasingly likely to happen?

Why The Labour Party Needs A Civil War

I should start by adding a personal declaration. I am a member of no party. I am a supporter of no party. I did vote Labour in ’97 on two ideas, first that the Tories had to go, and Blair was the best chance to do that, and the Blair promised a referendum on devolution. I voted LibDem during the Iraq War, as I liked their stance on what I see as an illegal war. I even voted Tory once as a tactical way to damage Blair in the most effective way my single vote could. I am strong on civil liberties, which is a natural LibDem trait. I am also strong on public services; normally a Labour trait. I have never voted SNP, but I’d never really considered them before. I wouldn’t rule it out. In short, I look for how the parties treat the ordinary people who don’t have millions in the bank and who do rely on the social safety net. Now that the declarations are over, we should get on with the article.

The UK labour party are a completely different party from the pre Blair era party. This is obvious to outsiders like me and increasingly undeniable to insiders too. I’ve talked to countless people who proudly state that they’re Labour, but always add the caveat that they’re ‘old Labour’, that the current iteration of the party is an embarrassment to their values.

These people have been left behind by UK Labour. These people are politically engaged, with values they want their government to embrace, so they seek parties who will deliver those ‘Labour values’ in the layers of society directly affecting them. The intricacies of international diplomacy, or multi billion pound contracts to tax avoiding corporations are all there, but they’re abstract. The day to day things like a publicly owned NHS being sold into private hands to be run for profit are very real to these people.

While all of the main parties court the rich, Labour have abandoned the ordinary man and woman. The SNP have picked them up by focusing priorities in those types of areas. The SNP have won two General Elections and look certain to win a third, by offering ‘Labour values’ for policies affecting the poor and vulnerable.

Traditional Labour people are torn between sticking with the party they’ve always thought of as theirs, and trying to influence those with traditional Labour values back to the top of the party, or abandoning the party they once loved. There is a better option, although it will mean short term pain for long tern gain.

Labour needs a civil war. It needs a battle between those who have abandoned the current party, and those who have abandoned the ideals and values of the party.

Within the Scottish Independence Referendum prism, a large part of the problem Labour have, is that it’s a ‘one nation’ UK party. Scottish Labour are tied to their UK led policies. While UK Labour have moved to the right, voters in Scotland refuse to move with them. In Scotland, the solution might be a standalone Traditional Scottish Labour Party; one that isn’t a regional offshoot of a UK party. Through a wider UK prism, a ‘one nation’ Traditional UK Labour Party could also work.

People all over the UK still have ‘Labour values’. A new party with those values could easily unseat a LOT of Labour MPs within a couple of election cycles. If people want a right wing government, they have UKIP or the Tories, if they want a left wing government, they have nobody.

If a new Traditional Labour Party were to form, and show itself as a professionally run party seeking to oust Labour, how would the Unions react? Would they keep funding a right wing UK Labour? Or would they funnel that support to the new upstart that’s much more aligned to their values? How would that look in Labour heartland constituencies, where Traditional Labour candidates are targeting New Labour candidates on policies and values; who represents your values more? Who do you see as fighting for ‘Labour values’?

UK Labour MPs would not only be fighting for their seats, they’d be doing it while being starved of activists, money and voters. Unions swinging behind a Traditional Labour Party alone would have catastrophic consequences on UK Labour’s finances. As I understand it, they’re close to running on fumes as it is.

UK Labour would of course play the “you’re splitting the Labour vote and handing victory to the Tories” card for all it’s worth, in addition to portraying the new upstart as ‘traitors’. In the short term it would split the vote and hand the election to the Tories. It may even last two election cycles. This is the short term pain part.

Despite being consigned in the short term to a sustained Tory government, we’d have a similar number of Labour MPs in parliament, they’d just be from two different Labour parties. They would still be able to influence legislation to be more in tune with ‘Labour values’, and where UK Labour sided with ‘Tory values’ they’d have less numbers to help sway the vote. They’d be very reluctant to do that however, because they’re facing being ousted by a Traditional Labour candidate. For simple self preservation, they’d have to try to side as much as possible with the Traditional Labour Party.

I’m not sure the UK Labour Party are self aware enough to react to this concept. In Scotland they’ve convinced themselves that they’re still promoting ‘Labour values’ and that the SNP stole their clothes. The SNP may well have acted cynically by spotting an opportunity, but Scottish Labour abandoned those clothes in favour of fancy new expensive suits. All I see is Scottish Labour imploding with their own irrational hatred of the SNP. With that as a guide to predict their response, I’d imagine that they’d just add the new Traditional Labour Party to the list of traitors to pour bile into at every turn. If they do that, specially if it happens nationally, UK Labour will be extinct within a few election cycles, it will be replaced by a Traditional Labour Party more powerful and popular than UK Labour are now, to stand as a proper left wing alternative government with the values of the ordinary man and woman built into their core.

They will energise those former Labour Party people who have given up on politics when it came down to a choice between Tories and lesser Tories. They finally have a party to vote for again. They have hope of change.

Those who think UK Labour are still savable, that they can be turned around towards traditional Labour values, take a close look. They party is too heavily infested by lesser Tories. Those who do try to steer the party onto ‘Labour values’ territory are sidelined. The party can’t be saved. The only option is a new Traditional Labour Party rising to put UK Labour out of business.

Many people who advocate short term damage for the longer term greater good use the phrase ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs’. They’re right. Either we continue on the same path, with both Tory and Labour becoming clones of each other and voters turning off in increasing numbers, or we change things to offer long term hope. Those who want a market and profit driven government, where the private sector is left to run everything already have a party to vote for; the Tories.