A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Monday, 15 September 2014

Hooptedoodle #148 - Let's All Scream & Run Round in Circles


So here we are, on the threshhold of a potential watershed in history, and – you know what? – I’m bored rigid.

On Thursday, as you may be aware, we will all be trotting along to polling stations here to vote YES or NO in the Referendum to decide whether Scotland is to leave the United Kingdom. At the very least, you would expect this to be a time which is tense with excitement, when we are all giddy with the possibilities and the sense of being in on a moment of real history. Certainly a lot of people are making a great deal of noise about it, but mostly I find myself wondering if there are any grown-ups at home.

I refuse to contribute to the mighty pile of nonsense which is already out there on the subject. My private feelings on the matter are not unknown, but that is not the issue. The machinery of democracy has, yet again, collapsed into the ritual of reciprocal abuse, face pulling and hysteria which makes a sick joke of the whole concept. Broadly speaking, those who intend to vote YES are driven by received cultural and (supposedly) patriotic motives, and by an understandable dislike of the Westminster government and all it has come to stand for (does Mr Cameron actually understand that every time he opens his mouth there is another swing to YES?); those who are in the NO camp are mostly driven by fear of the overwhelming number of unknowns – whatever their feelings about the ultimate logic or desirability of independence.

I am depressed by the difficulty of trying to find some facts – everyone has an axe to grind. Everyone is campaigning, especially the bastard press, and everything is a lie. Anyone who produces an opposing view – to either side – is being negative, or is using bullying tactics. If I walk around my house with a notepad, and scribble down a list of all the services we rely on, all the things we need, and try to attach some helpful notes for myself about how it would work in an independent Scotland, the notes would almost all say “don’t know”, and it isn’t because I haven’t tried to find out. In the long term, who will deliver the mail? who will pay the pensions? what currency will we use? who says so? what authority do they have to say this? how will education, health all be financed? The Telegraph is not a paper I have any time for at all, but recently they sketched out, in some detail, how the budgetary control of an independent Scotland might stack up, and it does not make for entertaining reading – they mention the likelihood of the highest personal taxes in Europe, plus crippling rates of Corporation Tax and VAT which would drive away businesses and employers; of course, this is all the sort of thing we would expect the Telegraph to say, and the correct response is to sit down with the aforementioned notepad and sketch out a counter-argument for each point – I have to say I am struggling to do this. I don’t have the wisdom or the knowledge to do much of it anyway, but more importantly I have no reliable facts on which  to base a rival case. As it happens, we might dispute whether the Telegraph does, either – we all just don’t know.

We do not know. I repeat. Swerving the eye-watering issue of currency (how can you swerve that?), what happens to the Scottish finance industry, which is a key element in the case for economic viability? There are strong rumours about their all moving their head offices out of Scotland (and, as I understand it, RBS’s customer base is about 90% English, so this is not a simple matter – and let’s not mention who currently owns that bank), so there is much shrieking about that, too. There is also a visible trend of customers already taking their savings elsewhere, just in case. In a sensible world, all these banks – and all other businesses with a significant presence in Scotland - would have issued a definitive statement of intent to their customers months ago, saying what the possible future might look like. Of course, they have not, so all we have is the shrieking. We do not know.

People are saying to us, “Go on – jump out of the window – it will be great – we will think of something fantastic to catch you before you hit the ground, though of course we don’t know exactly how it will work or what it will be.”

Hmmm. Obviously, since democracy is what we love and embrace (apparently), we will all have to live with the consequences of Thursday’s vote, and the two sides will have to get over their current name-calling and get on with making things work. At the moment, that doesn’t look like a great prospect.

I realise there may be a whiff of undesirable negativity in what I have written here, for which I can offer nothing but my humble apologies. We are in a situation where it is estimated that, with 3 days left until polling day, something like 17% of the registered electorate still don’t know which way they will vote – and this is not them being coy or secretive about it, this is an estimate of the number who state that they intend to vote but that they still have not finally made up their mind. How could they? In all truth, none of us knows enough to make a rational decision.

Choice is a NO result, with a return to the same old bloody Westminster hypocrisy and with some increases in the amount of devolution (which, if he is even slightly sane, must be the result Salmond is praying for), or a YES, with a local explosion of euphoria and precious little direction or hard fact to build a working future on – not in the time available, certainly. To me, it’s a bit of  a NO-brainer.

56 comments:

  1. I do wish Scotland well (being Scottish on my mother's side) and I hope the vote is overwhelming - one way or the other (which I doubt it will be) , a hopeful bi-product of this issue could be a shake up of British politics (which we badly need) , interestingly don't think anybody has mentioned the 'Darien Scheme' of the 1690's which caused the union of the two ,countries . Cheers Tony

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    1. I've been giving some serious thought to going to the Moon or somewhere for a week, and come back when it's over. Or London, maybe.

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    2. ...sorry - of course, that should have read "Dunoon".

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    3. Your not the only one.. Step Ma and Father (living in Fife) have buggered off to Cyprus for 2 weeks in the hope it will all be over by the time they get back... talking to them the other day they said the atmosphere was turning positively nasty...

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    4. It isn't great - I've temporarily stopped visiting the local folk music club, since it tends to attract nationalists, and things are definitely getting edgy. Yesterday I was in Haddington (our county town, by the way - if anyone hasn't heard of it, East Lothan once used to be Haddingtonshire, so there you go - this blog is not without educational merit...) and decided to drop in on an old mate, who runs a picture framing business in Church Street. His shop is gone - he must have sold up - and is now occupied by the local campaign offices of the NO lot. They were very pleasant, but they were all - to a woman - well dressed people with plummy, private school accents - the sort of people who just can't help putting themselves forward for committees in small towns. I'd hate to come across as an inverted snob, but I don't think that helps much - if anyone from the council estates in Haddington is wondering whether to vote NO, and he drops in on that lot, he will run a mile; he will think he's found the last few Conservative Party members in Scotland. There is a risk this is polarising along the wrong dividing lines.

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  2. Having grown up in Quebec and survived several Separation referendums while living in the part of the country that would have been separated from the bulk of the rest o the country, physically as well as in either senses, I have great sympathy.

    An important question was raised on the radio here about your current situation, if there is a Yes vote, will England need to remove the St Andrew's Cross from the Union flag? and will Liz become Elizabeth 1st of Scotland? Would she have to be asked?

    My best wishes for a soft landing whatever the vote.

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    1. Thanks Ross - if it's YES (aaaargh) then I think the Queen is Queen of Scotland in the same sense as she's Queen of Canada - i.e. Scotland would be a Commonwealth member - I don't know this for certain, naturally...

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    2. The Union flag was designed on the request of James I/IV for the Union of the Crowns, so doesn't need to change officially (although it likely will). Although the Union flag then and the one used now are slightly different (as all wargamers of the era would know of course! ;p)

      Lizzy is already Elizabeth the I of Scotland, she only rarely gets called it, and even then it's by those trying to make a point.

      (A Scot living in Qc, who would vote yes f he could, for the record).

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  3. I have no dog in this fight, so to speak, being here in the U.S., but I found your description of the over-all political process depressingly familiar. There is not a lot of rational thought being expressed these days. One side has become so doctrinaire and extreme that there is no basis for any sort of compromise. Each side basically speaks to its own supporters now, with no attempt to change anyone's mind, and any good ideas that do come along die of neglect. This actually very much resembles the political situation just before our Civil War..Now that IS depressing. It is said that misery loves company, but I don't think in this case.

    Sadly,

    Chris

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    1. Seems to me that the Nationalist case is a bit creaky, but it is at least well rehearsed. The UK government - all the parties, so I guess its the parliament - have absolutely failed to take this seriously until very late in the day. Major shock to find that a YES vote is a possibility, and a lot of very undignified panicking - this is the screaming and running in circles mentioned in my post heading.

      This is a funny one, too, in that it might take a small incident to swing a lot of marginal voters late in the day - and there's a lot of them...

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  4. I wasnt going to reply to this, but I shall.
    I live in the North East of England, a rural wasteland, no real jobs, no voice and could cry as I see the current government run up the backside of Salmond. Does he realise what damage he is doing to this small island? Does he care?
    You hear talk of those in Westminster only being concerned with London. Well it seems that Scotland have done okay out of this lack of listening. However here in the North East we might as well be on the moon.We dont even have a bloody motorway linking us up to the rest of the United Kingdom, but thats okay because the donkeys up here will still vote Labour, and the powers that be know that they can never win any seats up here, so just leave the area well alone. Witnessing the bollocks North of the border, if you all actually vote Yes, I predict within two years you will be fighting amongst yourselves, blaming each other for the mess that Salmond has conned the wanabe Bravehearts in voting for. And no I am not a troll,

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    1. Hmmm. As I understand it, Salmond originally wanted a 3-way referendum, offering (a) Fully Independent, (b) still part of the UK, but increased level of devolution (what has become known as Dev-Max) or (c) stay part of UK, as is. Also, as i understand it, Cameron rejected the (b) option since he thought the Scots might go for that one, whereas there was no way at all they would go for (a), so we have a two-option referendum, (a) and (c) only, and since (a) is looking a lot less of a long shot now, Westminster are falling over themselves to offer to make a win for (c) into (b), which is the one Salmond wanted in the first place. If the result is an (a), the SNP's bluff is called - they have to face up to organising the impossible; if the result is (c), which Cameron and Co will upgrade to (b) (since he has no toffees to hand out), then Salmond will, paradoxically, have achieved what he set out after.

      If it turns out YES, then I will be very worried indeed about how we pay for everything; if it turns out to be NO, then we can carry on being like you. I'm no fan of Salmond - at all - not even a little bit - but I can't really see what damage he has done to the small island, unless you have a different small island in mind. What he may have done is stimulate a more general appetite for greater local self-sufficiency - it might be that Durham and Northumberland can get more autonomy in future, though you don't have the convenience of a national border to hide behind.

      If it's YES here and we are fighting each other in two years, then you may remind me that you told me so, no problem. There will be a lot of morons voting (either way) for some strange, often fictional or misunderstood or outdated, reasons, but it's very hard to avoid that same impression about Westminster elections. When the Tories make their coalition deal with UKIP to get a majority at the next election, will there be some fighting in the Provinces some time after that, maybe?

      And I am not a troll, either.

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    2. Now I re-read your comment, I gather you were sounding off about the general topic of the referendum rather than about my humble post, so my attempt at an explanation is redundant and rather wasted - sorry about that.

      One point, though - there is no question at all of "you all voting yes"; I sincerely hope it's no, but even if it is yes, it will be a damn close call.

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    3. Another way to look at it is, that in two years time, Wales NI and especially the North of England will see the democratic reforms in place in Scotland, and want more representation for themselves, as, like you say, they are even more underrepresented in Westminster than Scotland is. But as with al these things, we cannot be certain, however, I prefer a hopeful outlook rather than a fearful one.

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    4. Derek - amen to going for a hopeful outlook, but if we get a YES result, perhaps you could send us a few dollars to help with the budget - we are certainly going to need them!

      Cheers - Tony

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    5. Sure, I can send you some Canadian Dollars, afterall, what is Canada if not a successful country, rich in oil, built in a large part by Scots, who gained freedom from the UK through peaceful and democratic means! ;) Maybe a model to be followed there...

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  5. I have to echo (from within Québec!) Ross M's comments. It is hard for a referendum process like this to end in anything else than entrenched division as people are being forced (prematurely) to settle on one side or another of a simplistic question. Normally, half will be disappointed by the result and the other half feels robbed. No one wants to acknowledge the baby as theirs.

    The problem here in Québec was compounded by the use of deliberately ambiguous referendum questions that invited some still seeking compromise to feel that one side or the other agrees with them when in fact neither position really had space or energy for that. It is push and shove and acrimony over wilted hopes afterwards. I suspect this kind of referendum can only serve to ratify a detailed proposal, it cannot in itself do much to give a clear sense of direction.

    Good luck to all over there!

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    1. Thank you! Our referendum is complete unambiguous - you vote for YES or NO - that's it (I think there was a question there, at the back...?). The problem is that when someone asks you which you want, you then need to spend the next month clarifying exactly what the implications of each are, and of course, the detailed answers are usually "we don't know", although the answer is sometimes "what's your problem, pal?".

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  6. I had the same question as Ross, namely if the Yes vote has it, does Scotland remain in the Commonwealth? I suppose it would, in the interim, until the second order question of whether it should be a Republic is settled. One of the interesting differences between Scotland and Quebec's several Referendums is that the voting age there is 16 for the Ref. but it will be interesting to see the turnout rate for that demographic and how it splits. I suspect, as in Canada, that pragmatism and caution will win the day, but if it goes Yes, I suspect there will be a lot of Morning After pragmatism to ensure that life goes on with a minimum of shock.
    Question: Would an independent Scotland join the EU and if so, would it adopt the Euro? Would it want to join NATO?

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    1. Scotland in the Commonwealth - yes, I think so, but anything is possible(!) - don't ask me, I only live here!

      The old age pensioners will mostly vote NO, because they are worried about their pensions. My guess is that the 16 year olds will vote YES, because their pals at school say it's cool, and they might be interested in old age pensioners being sent to the gas chamber in an independent Scotland.

      If it turns out YES, there will be an elastic hang-over period (I typed handover, but the iMac knows better) while we wait for someone to come up with a lot of good ideas.

      Europe - yes, Scotland (independent or not) is enthusiastic about staying in Europe, and thus remaining of greater interest to the rest of the trading world - growing hostility to Europe in West Sussex and suchlike is a contributor to the anti-Westminster groundswell here. The Euro - a very good question. No-one will let anyone use their currency unless they have some control over how it is used and how that country conducts its fiscal management. It seems you don't get to use the Pound Sterling unless you are answerable to the UK government, and similarly you don't get to use the Euro unless the EU is happy with your financial housekeeping. There is some mockery directed at Salmond, in that moving to the Euro, if it were possible, might result in replacing Westminster bureaucratic control with a Brussels one - imagine that - ha ha ha ha etc. It has to be said that there are a number of us who might just settle for that if it kept us in Europe.

      I digress. If it's a yes result then I shall not be at all happy, but we'll have to get on with it. No-one is threatening to take away my UK passport immediately, anyway...

      By the way, for the benefit for anyone reading this, bear in mind that I am an Englishman by birth, though my wife and my kids are all Scottish, and I live about 35 miles from the English border - you will not see a lot of tartan around here, nor hear Gaelic or the bagpipes very much. Assuming that there is a single Scotland is a common English mistake which is every bit as daft as the Scottish misconception that all Englishmen come from Surrey and vote Tory.

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  7. There's something wrong. This is the only discussion I've read so far about the Referendum which isn't flooded with vitriol. As an Englishman who has no say at all in the issue, I find this refreshing. We English (and Welsh and Irish) have been bombarded with utter bilge masquerading as political debate by people who don't seem to have any real idea what is actually at stake or what the possible outcomes are likely to be, so God help the people who're going to have to vote.
    I can't find anything you've said that I disagree with, but I wonder how many 'Yes' voters are confusing the actual issue with simply voting against a Tory government - yes, I know it's supposed to be an alliance, but come on!. If there's a 'No' vote, it will only delay the issue for a few more years. The SNP won't just walk away and forget it. Alex Salmond will spend the next ten years screaming "We woz robbed!" and (if he survives) plotting his next campaign. Either way, I hope it will make the rest of Britain wake up to the meaning of democrracy and stop the current political indifference. What can you say about a nation in which the silent majority is actually the apathetic majority?
    My father always used to repeat the old saying "You get the government you deserve."

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    1. Hi Gary - first I have to say i have had a number of only-half-joking emails from friends in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and even Clwyd requesting that, if Scotland votes YES, can they please come and join us!

      I emphasise that I am very much hoping it will be NO - a no vote secures us the best of both worlds, with some new benefits in the Dev-Max offer. There is an astonishing amount of volatility in the predictive polls - partly this is because the polls are badly conducted, partly it is because the reporting is dishonest, but there are some hefty swings from day to day. A couple of days ago, Jim Sillars, a veteran Nationalist, suddenly threw a screaming fit and said that an independent Scotland would nationalise BP and teach the bankers all sorts of dreadful lessons - he may have felt better as a result, but i don't think he enjoyed it for long; I suspect his backside was soundly kicked, so today he has stated that he was only joking, and his statement was calculated to gain attention from a hostile press. His statement also attracted the attention of a lot of very scared floating voters, I can assure you, and the NO graph lifted a bit yesterday as a result.

      I believe Salmond will be relieved and pleased if he loses by not-very-much - he is off the hook for Mission Impossible, he remains in a job and he has vindicated the push for more devolution. A fully independent Scotland looks potentially more like the Greek model than the Norwegian to me - the EU will not be rushing to embrace us.

      Silent majority - admittedly, there are only two "parties" to vote for on the referendum ballot paper, but it is certain that the votes cast by the LOSING side will represent a far, far higher proportion of the Scottish electorate than the proportion of UK electors who voted for Conservative and Lib-Dem combined in 2010, so we have to be a bit careful about this much-treasured Western democracy stuff that we try to flog to the Syrians and similar. What happens if we throw an election and nobody comes? Could everyone lose their deposits at the same time? What could we replace the electoral system with? Could we just get our instructions from the editorial page of Hello! magazine?

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  8. As a Kiwi living in Catalonia, it's actually very interesting reading all this. there have been very many comparisons made between Scotland and Catalonia, most of it as you have so nicely pinted out, of little substance here as well. i didn't know that the 3 way referendum was rejected. the same idea is planned here, although of course here the Spanish government is taking the slightly more Dark Ages approach of not even contemplating allowing people to vote. I guess it's something for Scots to be happy about, being allowed to vote does have a nice ring to it!

    On a kiwi note, if the union Jack changes does that mean all the flags of new Zealand Australia, Bermuda, ontario Cook Islands etc etc have to change as well!? Might be time to get nto the flag designing business :)

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    1. There will certainly be a remarkable turnout here, if the predictions are correct.

      The flag question is potentially mindblowing - independence would certainly require a new Union flag (the Wee Union?), but the various Commonwealth flags are a moot point - maybe all these flags could use a makeover now anyway, but people get touchy about changing something so integral to a nation's identity. This may seem daft considering the overall importance of what is going on here, but I worry a lot about waste. Independence, if it comes, will be accompanied by a whole tidal wave of changes to department names and the titles of tin-pot bureaucrats generally. In a new country which is going to struggle to balance the expenditure anyway, just the prospect of paying for all the nice new notice boards, signs on officials' doors and smart new notepaper makes me shudder. The stupidity of this kind of stuff when UK Regionalisation came (and went? - I never quite know where we are up to with this) was as nothing to what we might see now in the way of Grandiose titles (and lunches to launch them).

      Flag designers and corporate image/marketing consultants - buy your shares in them now.

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  9. Despite all the flummery about the poond why has no one simply pointed out that Scotland won't actually be independent if Alec Salmond gets his way and gets to keep Sterling? How independent is Ireland when the average Bundestag backbench member gets to scrutinise the Irish budget in more detail than the average Irish minister?

    The mean side of me would love to see Alec Salmond have to explain to an angry nation why all of the promised policies that will bring about a fairer society have been vetoed by those b******s in London!


    * Although according to an expert on the wireless this evening, the vote isn't binding, so Scotland won't automatically become independent!

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    1. Hi Chris - the Sterling question has become a squaring-up point - Salmond, I think, had just assumed that Sterling would remain (which was just as silly as Westminster assuming the Referendum was just a minor excuse for a street party), but the economic and legal position is obviously not promising for his getting to keep it. More importantly, the posturing machine has been cranked up to a level where backing down by either side would require an unacceptable loss of face.

      With luck, we'll get a NO and the situation doesn't arise.

      The "expert on the wireless" sounds like an oxymoron, but I think a YES would only trigger the start of serious discussion to get the thing moving. The SNP reckon that YES sets a definite date for independence (whenever it is - can't remember), but I don't think that is true.

      Things will be much calmer, cheaper and more sensible if we just convince the switherers to vote NO and have done with it, and we can all get on with something more useful. According to the official spiel, a YES is irreversible - no going back (discuss...) - but it's obvious that NO gives scope for a more sensible, better planned re-run sometime in the future.

      If we are going to cut the red wire one day, let's make sure we are sober at the time.

      Cheers - Tony

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    2. We may surprise everyone and come up with a whole new currency - there will probably be a prize competition in the Sunday Post for a name. Though Dollar is in Scotland, we probably won't get to use that one - the Bawbee or the Irn Bru have been suggested.

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  10. Oh 2 further questions:

    If you're English, Welsh or Northern Irish living in Scotland will you get to keep your UK citizenship? Similarly will all Scots including those living elsewhere in the UK will you get their UK passports taken off them?

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    1. Rules about who gets to be a Scottish Citizen are complex - I know that UK subjects resident in Scotland are eligible, and UK residents outside Scotland who have Scottish parents (or grandparents, I think) also - all may apply. There are obviously rules for Scottish ex-pats living outside the UK, but I can't remember them offhand. I think I'll read the details if i need to after the results come out.

      People who do not take up Scottish citizenship will be allowed to stay here, and dual citizenship is allowed. There is a long and rather irritating document online - again, I'll save the joy of studying that for another time.

      I have a Scottish friend who once moved with his job in the Health Service from Edinburgh to Castlebay in the Isle of Barra (Outer Hebrides), but after 12 years the locals still wouldn't speak to him in the pub so he moved back. Dual citizenship may not be straightforward.

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    2. An extremely excellent discussion, as a Scots/Irish Brummie living in Wales my vote if allowed would be a resounding NO!! When we had the Devolution vote in Wales there were similar sound bites as now going on in Scotland coming mostly from rabid Nationalists, end result was that less then a third of voters turned out and we got Devolution by only a few hundred votes and since then South Wales got most of the benefits and the North got little apart from increased costs to pay for the idiots in the Welsh Assembly
      The Welsh language is now heavily taught in schools hence the poor education in Wales, would Gaelic now become the official language in Scotland? So would business letters, council communications etc be have to produced bilingually, would all road signs also have to changed to bilingual signs?
      As another old saying goes "If'n it ain't broke don't fix it"

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    3. Hi John - thanks for that - valuable input and a reminder of how these things work (or don't, or whatever). I think we'll get a big turnout, but maybe not as high as predicted.

      Gaelic - hmmm - we already have a bit of that - it seems some Scottish Parliament decree has insisted that railway station names appear in two languages - so someone has had to come with Gaelic translations of what in many cases are very English names (bear in mind that the Scottish Borders are much closer to Northumberland in culture and language than they are to the Highlands) - complete waste of time, purely to impress American tourists. Based on the numbers of speakers of various languages in North Berwick, French, German and probably Bengali would all be more logical translations for our railway station.

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    4. "I have a Scottish friend who once moved with his job in the Health Service from Edinburgh to Castlebay in the Isle of Barra (Outer Hebrides), but after 12 years the locals still wouldn't speak to him in the pub so he moved back."
      I find that surprising, because in all those fish out of water Britcoms that American Public Television beams all over North America to Britphiles, it's always non-stop hilarity when the English doctor/lawyer/copper/teacher moves to some remote part of Ireland/Devon/Somerset/Scotland/Random Rural Local and after a short while comes to love the kooky lovable locals and their rustic ways.

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    5. Yes - right. The Wicker Man and similar movies are closer to the mark; on the films you refer to the locals usually eat the guy on reel 2, but no-one stays awake that long.

      No - "Incomers" - lower your eyes and tremble.

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  11. Agreed, the debate has singularly failed to inform (though I'm in England, it could be a significant outcome for us too). Salmond appears to be a loon and the Westminister parties are in such a panic it's laughable.

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    1. Considering the supposed importance of the occasion, it isn't very impressive, is it?

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  12. I find it all very difficult to understand. Some of the accents are very broad.

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    1. Hi Matt - that is a known downside of listening to peasants.

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    2. Wouldn't Scots be a more appropriate choice of language than Gaelic? I did onee see a very olde English/Scots dictionary good for translating Burns.

      Coverage over here is intensifying. The similarity with the Quebec referendi is striking. I do admire your optimism that a No result would be decisive.

      I also note that there is a big Sherrifmuir reenactment scheduled for this weekend. Coincidence?

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  13. One thing I don't understand - if the Scots really wanted independence why didn't they ask the English to vote on it? Also, I don't believe the government has been caught out in the way everyone is saying as I'm sure the Conservatives would love to get rid of all those Scottish Labour MP's so they can have a comfortable majority in the Commons - its the only thing that makes sense of the poor performance of the NO campaign.

    On the plus side if there is a YES vote it will be very cheap for wargamers to assemble a 'Scottish Defence Force' army, even on a 1:1 basis.

    Being half Scottish (but living in England) I could well become a stateless refugee on Friday so this may be my last chance to state any opinions!

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    1. That nice Mr Cameron would never stitch us up. Where else is he going to dump his nuclear waste (oh, sorry, that was Mrs T), and where else is he going to get cheap drinking water so that the poor people in Londinium can try some that hasn't already been through everyone else's kidneys? That's not the bankers of course - they only drink Bardolino.

      You could be right - d'you reckon he's going to ditch the Tynesiders next? There's a few Labour MPs up there. Wouldn't it be simpler if we just made London independent, and then sent an apology to Mrs Merkel for all the messing about?

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  14. I say, Foy, you've managed to host an entirely civilised debate about the issue! Well done! What I've been upset by is how unpleasant it has all become. I did, however, come across this : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29135269 which is one of the better discussions about Scotland's possible future that I've come across. As it's about defence, your readers might be particularly interested. On a personal note, I am an Englishman with lots of Scottish connections : I'm married to an Islander (born in Lewis, family from Skye), was married in a Free Presbyterian church, took my first degree at Edinburgh University, worked in a boarding school in Perthshire for a few years, my brother and very elderly mother live in Dumfries & Galloway, and my father's ashes are scattered in Glasgow. I have to say, that as the dreaded day approaches, I have felt increasingly sad that the answer will be 'Yes'. I think that would be a loss to us all in the UK. Also, I can't understand the idea of independence as offered by the Yes/SNP lot, given that they want to remain/join (something else that's not clear) in the EU. Hardly independence. The other thing that really rankles with my wife is why as 100% a Scot (from a Gaelic speaking family) she cannot vote. As she sees it, she hasn't left her country, given that, like all other Scots in the UK, she holds a British passport, but she can't vote, whereas, for example, a German temporarily resident in Scotland can. Also, Scottish service personnel not in Scotland on Thursday can't vote either! Anyway, thanks for bringing it up in the wargamey blogosphere.

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    1. Thank you, sir - I hope life gets back to what passes for normal next week, one way or the other. I think next week is going to be very strange. One thing that may be possible is I may be able to bring myself to look at my Facebook account again - I've left well alone for some weeks, since I do not really wish to see how dumb my friends are.

      I had hoped that voting with some balanced combination of heart and mind would have been ideal, but the spleen seems to have taken over. I am really very concerned that there is a permanent rift in the country. Maybe it's a country that needs to generate rifts. Sad, as you say, that it had to turn so nasty.

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  15. I, too, believe that this question has generated more heat than light. I am an Englishman married to Scottish woman living, and having a business, here in Scotland for about 30 years. We adopted a Scottish boy who has given us 4 lovely grandchildren. My wife's Scottish sisters all moved to England and my own English family all moved to Scotland. Is the mythologised hatred stirred up by Nationalists serving any great cause? Will a separate future mean anything more than Mr Salmond being a big fish in a small pond? Can people really vote in an essentially right wing party and get a socialist paradise in return? I am missing something when Ms Sturgeon says we're keeping the pound (whether backed up by a lender of last resort or not) but deciding our own fiscal policies? I hate the phrase 'better the devil you know' and prefer the lyric 'clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right..' as regards our current UK representatives but agree heartily with the comment above 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. For the underlying reasons for 'Yes' or 'No' follow the money. Why does Rupert Murdoch finance the 'Yes' campaign? Why has an ostensibly Tory Unionist government fought so poorly? Unfortunately we won't know the whole truth until a split happens but by then it will be too late.

    Everyone of us who blog in the English language and many beyond know of the Battle of Britain (I make no apology for mentioning the war as Nationalists are banging on about 1314). On 7th September the largest raid of the war so far against London (over 1000 aircraft) was met by RAF fighter squadrons, of course, but the first into the fray was 602 City of Glasgow Squadron (all 12 of them). It cannot be a 'head' or 'heart' decision but must be both or no decision at all.

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    1. If we are unlucky to end with full separation, I don't see how Mr Salmond can do anything other than self-destruct. UKIP notwithstanding, i don't see how you can campaign as a nationalist if you are in fact a separate nation, and I really don't think he will fancy taking on the job of balancing the books in the new Free State.

      Murdoch - that is a strange one. I have read that it is his revenge for his post-hacking treatment at the hands of Westminster, and that he fancies himself as a potential Sultan (Impotentate?) in the new state.

      He has always disgusted me anyway, so I sincerely hope his backside festers.

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  16. This has been an interesting post,
    I would point out that the water at keilder in Northumberland could cater for the people in London, and the last time I looked no one had pee'd in it
    [ well not to often]. As for the reference to Mrs Thatcher, the only thing that the poor woman hasnt been blamed for is starting the second world war, but no doubt some rabid loon will find someway to denigrate her for that as well.
    I have had to suffer an entire lifetime of Labour councils and MPS, and frankly they should have all been locked up a longtime ago, for betraying the people in the North East. We voted against devolution over ten years ago when Prescott blundered and bullied his way through here, I would be happy with parliament remaining in the South if we were actually listened to occasionally and perhaps given a hand to create a bit of wealth for the areas that never recovered from the loss of heavy industry. Oh and I think we would be overjoyed to be given the Trident submarines to look after.

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    1. Thanks for taking part Robbie - I am very fond of Keilder, and have never peed in it (well, not directly into it). The formula for a successful Britain is very simple these days - London makes money, the rest of the country doesn't, so sacrifice everything to the central shrine.

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  17. I noticed there's a sh** storm brewing over the promised retention of the Barnett Formula. Mostly southern/midlands Tory backbench MPs breaking ranks, so far, but there must be bitterness in parts of the north and southwest about this too, especially where average income is lower than it is in Scotland.

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    1. I'm not really surprised, though I believe Mr Farage recently said something about more than 50% of Scots being on benefits, so either the rest of them must be very well paid or else the benefits are unusually high. That was the same day he said that excessive nationalism was unhealthy. I wish I had his prescription.

      More seriously(?), the Barnett Formula needs rethinking anyway, so it was a dodgy thing to use as a negotiating tool. Come to think of it, if the referendum produces a NO and then Cameron doesn't come up with the promised enhancements, what are the Scots going to do about it? - stop voting Conservative?

      What if he had his fingers crossed behind his back when he made the promise? Oh, the cunning devil.

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    2. It wouldn't be the first time a politician hasn't followed up on a promise.. I'm so disenchanted with the entire sorry process/shambles I gave up voting years ago they're all as bad as each other and don't deserve my vote (or the sacrifices made to allow them to continue the sorry shambles)....sorry, I'm ranting... on the subject in question however, I'd say that the promises/subsidies to Scotland have already disenchanted a lot of people in the rest of the Union.. free prescriptions, free bus travel for OAP's but more importantly paid University fees, in my mind, almost constitute a discrimination - we're all British, so how can Scotland afford this when the rest of us can't??

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    3. Steve - I'm not going to disagree with any of that, except to say that the number of Scottish kids who can actually get into a Scottish university is astonishingly small - the universities and colleges get extra money for taking overseas students, and this is a very big business.

      It would be sad indeed if all my English chums were eventually more offended by Scotland staying in the Union than they would have been by our leaving. No pleasing some people...

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  18. I've been taken to task by email - quite correctly - for referring to the SNP when I really meant the YES campaign. I was reminded that the Scottish Parliament has only recently had an SNP majority, and that the big swing to YES in recent weeks has been associated with a discernible move to YES by Scottish Labour voters - this is not a one-party issue at all.

    Naturally, I cannot avoid adding that there are a number of YES voters who believe that an independent Scotland will be some form of Marxist Utopia. They are in for a very big disappointment - like the rest of the UK, Scotland is really run by wealthy landowners and major commercial interests, and the heavy industries which historically produced massive trades union alliances have almost all disappeared. As with everything else, I have no idea, but it is just possible that an independent Scotland - in the absence of the SNP - might be less socialist than the rest of the UK. Who knows? With luck, we'll never find out.

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  19. I'm watching this open-mouthed from the other side of the world; I can't actually believe a goodly portion of the Scottish population are in favour taking a running jump off the cliff in the hope that it'll all work out for the best.

    At least there's no talk of coups, or Peoples' Republics of Novo-Scotlandia if things don't go the 'right' way.

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    1. I think your description fits nicely with my perception of the way it works. Anyway, we are off to the polling station this morning, and it's nice and wet and foggy, specially for the occasion. I am thinking of taking a chain saw with me, in case any of the campaign members wish to risk asking me how I voted.

      However this works out, you ain't seen nothing yet. If this looks like a shambles, dominated by misinformation and by people who hope that they personally will score a few quid out of exploiting the thick-headed, wait till you see the UK's referendum about leaving the EU. That should really be something - no-one will even remember Scotland when that's over.

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    2. I remember Scotland. Didn't that used to be......

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    3. Nah - I think that was the Farne Islands, mate. My grandad went on holiday to Scotland once - he said it was terrible - they had flies that ate people alive, and it never stopped raining.

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  20. Probably more than enough has been said here (for which thanks to everyone who entered into the spirit of this little discussion), but I would like to share with you one last fact - as an illustration of the level of energy and attention to detail which has typified the NO campaign throughout these final few weeks.

    I have, for the first time during the build up to Referendum Day, received a typed communication addressed to me. It is signed by Ruth Davidson (MSP for Glasgow and Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party), on behalf of the Conservative Friends of the Union. It is stirring stuff, and it finishes off:

    "Scotland is better off in Britain. Please use your vote on Thursday to make sure it stays that way. PS: There has never been a more important vote. There will be no second chance to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom."

    Stirring stuff. Disappointingly, the letter was delivered by our busy rural postie at about 2:45pm today - that's about 7 hours after I cast my vote. Well, I suppose she's been busy, and after all she is the Leader of the Party, so we are lucky to hear from her at all, really.

    My main reaction on receiving it was that it was a waste of a stamp - we have to watch these extravagances now.

    There were no exit polls carried out today, so the result will not be known until about 6:30 tomorrow morning - the polls closed about an hour ago. Like Lee trying not to hear the football results before Match of the Day shows the highlights on a Saturday night, I am going to go to bed now, and carefully avoid hearing the result. I am going to keep the TV switched off until about August 2022 - that should do it - please, don't anyone spoil it for me.

    Night night.

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