Saturday, September 20, 2014

¨The old imperialist-based union is bust...¨

This piece in today's Guardian by Irvine Welsh is fairly typical of the sort of opinion which has been getting my back up in the last few weeks. 

There's much talk of how Scotland has been covering itself in glory, putting on such a fine show of people power and 'true democracy', yet hardly any mention of the thuggery deployed by the YES campaign or the general spectacle of provincial small-mindedness behind this shining example to the world. 

At times it has been like being transported back to the 80s: class war, but this time with an ethnic-nationalist edge. Perhaps another reason it has felt like such a throwback is the discourse of the pro-independence campaign has resembled that of a middle-aged bloke who still thinks and speaks like a twenty-year-old student. 

It's a worldview where greed and incompetence are the only characteristics of the world's greatest financial service industry, where the UK is an 'imperialist' structure (I suppose under this same logic the EU is the Fourth Reich!), the BBC is primarily an establishment mouthpiece, the oil of the North Sea would belong to me the day after I move to Edinburgh and all that can be said of Westminster politicians is that they are inherently both elitist and corrupt. 

Some of these people need to seriously grow up and ditch this pathetic posturing. Guys, you don't live over here in Latin America; instead you enjoy the quite extraordinary privilege of being citizens of one of the world's most open and mature democracies.*

Anyway, it's just an enormous shame that old historical boundaries provide 10% of the British population with a license to carry on in this thoroughly childish manner. 

*Ironically perhaps, in the form of Salmond and the SNP they have just narrowly avoided rule by a Latin American-style populist demagogue.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blue state?

The idea of reorganising our national boundaries to allow Scotland to 'manage their own affairs' sounds sort of fair until you think of doing the same thing in say the USA: along red and blue state lines. It surely wouldn't resolve most of the deeper issues, in fact it would create a kind of artificial barrier between them, so that the longer term positive effects of political contention would be dampened. 

Red staters would get to keep heterosexual-only marriage, Fox News, 'Freedom' and cohabiting humans and dinosaurs, while the blue-staters could have abortion, socialised medicine, a limp-wristed foreign policy and as many Guatemalans as they can handle. 

In the short term at least, it's hard to see how you would not end up with one essentially Republican-dominated nation and another contrastingly Democratic one. And suppose it was the right-thinking folk of the likes of New York and LA that decided to erect a definitive political barrier between themselves an those 'effing' rednecks in Alabama and Wyoming, would it not occur to them that they were selfishly cutting loose and thus politically condemning all the people over in Hicksville who either currently share their liberal values or might some day come around to doing so? 

Back to Scotland. The differences here are twofold. Firstly, in the last decade or so the clash of values has been much less of a 50-50 thing than it has been over in the States; where each ideological block has appeared to have a roughly equal chance of grabbing the executive branch. It seems that the Scots feel about Labour now as east coast Democrats might feel if their party colleagues in the fly-over states had started denying evolution just to get into government. 

Secondly, while the resentments in the USA have been stoked by all sorts of devious populists, in this respect Alex Salmond has a clear advantage in that he has been able to repackage them along slick nationalist lines.