Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is one Scot who will not shirk his moral duty

Whenever Blair McDougall takes some rare time out from his internet trolling career to laud an anti-independence rant in the Guardian as "excellent", it's generally a fair bet that you're in for a feast of the very finest delusions and factual inaccuracies if you follow the link. Former Daily Record propagandist Chris Deerin certainly doesn't disappoint, not even in his title -

"We Scots have a clear moral duty this year – to stay British"

As moral duties go, Chris, that one is going to be astonishingly hard to shirk, given the existence of three basic facts that we crazy separatists consider to be self-evident...

1) As an independent country until 1707, Scotland was the northern third of an island called Great Britain.

2) Right now, Scotland is the northern third of an island called Great Britain.

3) After independence in 2016, Scotland will be the northern third of an island called Great Britain.

Unless someone has finally invented that giant chainsaw we keep hearing so much about, an independent Scotland will be every bit as much a British nation as independent Sweden is a Scandinavian nation. And just like Scandinavia, Britain is a multi-national geographical and cultural entity - it is not a name exclusively reserved for whichever political state London happens to be the capital city of at any given moment. This cuts both ways - geography and history means that we can't and shouldn't deny our Britishness, but it also means that no-one else (and certainly not the UK government or the No campaign) has any power to rob us of our Britishness after independence. It's our birthright, just as much as it's the birthright of someone from Hampshire or Buckinghamshire.

"So far the polls suggest that support for the union v independence remains static, at around two-thirds to one-third."

For the love of Jesus. How many more times? Read our lips, oh gloriously absurd unionist media - YOU CANNOT COUNT UNDECIDED VOTERS AS NO VOTERS. YOU JUST CAN'T DO IT. If you want to claim that roughly one-third of Scottish residents support independence, that means you are not excluding undecided voters from the calculation, and on that basis LESS THAN ONE-HALF of Scottish residents are opposed to independence. To be absolutely precise, when undecided voters are taken into account the current average of the polls is Yes 33.0%, No 48.8%. The alternative calculation is to exclude undecideds, in which case the average pro-independence vote is not one-third, but just over four-tenths. You shouldn't be surprised to hear that this also means that the anti-independence vote is not two-thirds, but just under six-tenths. The exact figures are Yes 40.3%, No 59.7%. There is absolutely no calculation available that will get the average anti-independence vote even close to two-thirds. Sorry about that, Chris. I appreciate it's inconvenient, but lying about it won't change matters.

And I'm not even finished stating the bleedin' obvious yet, because neither is it true that the polls are "static". Every pollster - every single one - that has reported since the White Paper was published agrees that the No lead has dropped. If we believe TNS-BMRB, the No lead has fallen for four months in succession, and is now some 8% lower than it was in the early autumn.

"The yes campaign is struggling to convert the greater mass of Scots into kilted bum-barers who bellow 'freedom' whenever an English person hoves into view."

Hmmm. We seem to have slipped into a parallel universe where the Yes campaign's objective is - for some unspecified reason - to turn us all into Scottish versions of Katie Hopkins, rather than to convince us of the merits of taking responsibility for the governance of our own country. And this stuff is genuinely what Blair McDougall considers to be quality reading? If so, it's hard not to conclude that the anti-independence supremo and his entire campaign hold the people of this country in utter contempt - there cannot be many other parts of the world where a desire for the normality of self-governance could ever be equated with Starkey-esque chauvinism and immaturity.

"Lord Robertson, the former defence secretary, recounts how, having been appointed secretary-general of Nato, he was asked by an official why he didn't support Scottish independence, as 'surely then you could run the whole show'. Before he could answer, another colleague butted in: 'The Scots run the big show anyway.' This is pretty much true, and has been ever since James I."

I don't think anyone has ever said it better than Joyce McMillan back in the 1990s, when she pointed out that the hoary old claim that Scots don't really need self-government because they already run Britain anyway is eerily similar to the claim in the early 20th Century that women didn't really need the vote because they already ruled the world by using their feminine wiles to exercise control over their nominally more powerful menfolk. Actually, in both cases it's the substance of power that's required, not a patronising pat on the head to assure us that we've got something much better going for us.

"So, when my girls put the question to me, I hope to be in a position to tell them that when the moment arrived, Scots – Scots, of all people! – did not opt to go small, to lay down the moral role conferred on them by history, to turn their back on the difficult and painful decisions – and inevitable mistakes – that come with a position in the front rank of world powers: that it never really seemed like a very Scottish thing to do."

This seems to be identical to Rory Stewart's insistence on denying absolutely every version of Scottishness other than his own faintly ludicrous confection. Remember when the Tory MP for Penrith (and professional refugee from the 18th Century) angrily declared on Newsnight that the vast majority of Scots, ie. those who fail to buy into his personal worldview of British national uniformity, were not "real" Scots? I must say that if I truly thought the most typically Scottish thing to do is to be haughty and to have delusions about divinely-ordained missions on the world stage, I'm not sure I'd want to have much to do with independence. Thankfully, in the real world, the centre of gravity in Scotland is egalitarianism, not Rumsfeldism.

"...if we walked out, we would leave behind a much-diminished state, and one that would be heavily compromised in its international dealings. How could it urge the Chinese towards democracy, if that very system had led to its own collapse?"

Because a state's insistence on defending its territorial integrity against the freely-expressed wishes of its own citizens is inconsistent with democracy, you silly, silly man.

"after all, if even dear old Britain can't keep it together, where is solidarity to be found?"

In George Osborne's generous little heart, I presume.

"Britain's existence stands as a rebuke to those who say that prosperity cannot go with human rights..."

Except for readers who use food banks or who have been detained without trial.

"...that tolerance cannot co-exist with robust debate"

Except for readers from Romania and Bulgaria.

"...that the rule of law and personal freedom must be mutually exclusive."

Except when the UK government tries to criminalise people who are "annoying" - wasn't that just last week?

"Because, for me, a world without Britain is almost unthinkable."

Still no chainsaw, then? Fair enough. But you might also want to aim for the global eradication of nuclear weapons, just to be on the safe side.

"I know how I'll vote. I have always found it easy and natural to think of myself as both Scottish and British."

Ditto. I'm voting Yes to independence, because I refuse to make a false choice between self-governance and identities that are an inalienable part of my birthright.


  1. And yet again, the campaign for the union is based on revering the past, and the case for independance is based on building for the future.

  2. You could've saved yourself a lot of time by simply noting this bit:

    • This is an edited extract of an article that first appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail

    Nonetheless, I'm very glad you've taken that time to defenestrate this wretched little piece.

  3. Great response.

    I've often wondered where Scottish independence might leave those Scots with a very strong British identity. Succinctly dealt with - thanks.

  4. Another of your expertly executed hatchet jobs.