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August 25, 2014 7:21 AM   Subscribe

The second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling is to be shown across the UK tonight. After a lacklustre first debate, the final days of the referendum campaign are ticking down. There are signs of growing momentum for the Yes side, with undecideds moving to Yes in some polls and the 'Yes Declaration' recently hitting a million signatures. But the Better Together campaign still has some heavy hitters on side, with Sir Ian Wood recently casting doubt on oil extraction figures he had previously agreed with.

The campaign took a turn for the bizarre with the proliferation of the ice bucket challenge, with Salmond, Darling and Nicola Sturgeon all taking part. But many contend that the real action is away from the glare of the big personalities.

Both campaigns claim to be gaining ground on social media, with grassroots group National Collective kicking off the #YesBecause hashtag campaign, swiftly met with a response in #NoBecause.

With the second debate due to be broadcast nationwide (in contrast to the first, which was only viewable live in Scotland), there is some hope that the town-hall format might avoid the sniping and chaotic arguments of the first debate.

Whatever the outcome, it will all come down to the voting booth, with high turnout predicted and heavy voter registration campaigning by the Electoral Commission.
posted by Happy Dave (223 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Disclaimer - I'm a Yes voter, but I've tried to use a mix of sources here so as not to prejudice the thread by inadvertent thread slant. I think there's a separate discussion to be had about the groundswell of Yes opinion and grassroots online writing, but I didn't want to mix that up with a more factual discussion around the second debate.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:23 AM on August 25


Has there been a decision on what the EU membership status of an independent Scotland would be?

Last year when I was in Barcelona, there was a lot of interest in the Scottish referendum as a test case for their own (Catalan) referendum sometime in the not-too-distant future. One of the issues that I gathered that the anti-separatists had raised in Spain was that an independent Catalonia might not immediately be part of the EU and as a result might have to go through its own EU membership process rather than simply inheriting it, which could be an economic mess.

Since the UK isn't part of the Eurozone it's not a like-for-like situation, but it's hard to imagine whatever happens not setting something of an example for other traditionally-autonomous regions. (Basque Region, maybe Wallonia, etc.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:37 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Is there a Nate Silver equivalent for the UK? I've been fascinated by this referendum vote as an outside observer, but if you look at the collected polling data a Yes majority seems pretty unlikely, given that the general expectation for referendums that would lead to such big changes and uncertainty is for yes voting to underperform the polling, and even without that effect there's hardly any poll that even shows a close vote. Am I missing something?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:38 AM on August 25


Thanks for the post Happy Dave. Some links I've found interesting to add: The Economist's "Don't Leave us this way" article - and the comments people made on it. Some of the articles on the pro-yes blog "Wingsoverscotland". The Scotsman also has a lot of articles - including a countdown: 23 days. Its going to be interesting or... if you disagree... time to book a holiday abroad
posted by rongorongo at 7:39 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: "Has there been a decision on what the EU membership status of an independent Scotland would be?"

Like everything else, it's been a load of he said she said. Various EU bureaucrats have mumbled various non-committal things that could be interpreted either way, with both campaigns leaping onto any perceived bias in favour of their position as definitive proof. Like pretty much every other topic.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:43 AM on August 25


rongorongo - That Economist editorial seems surprising weak, to my mind. I expect better from The Economist. Seemed to boil down to "We need Scotland to prop up the vestiges of British imperial influence and they're a bunch of nanny-state pinkos who won't be able to stand on their own anyway." Not exactly persuasive to Scottish nationalists, even if you buy into the conventional neo-liberal worldview.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:51 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Probably the closest thing to Nate Silver is the political betting blog - though obviously it is more focused on well, betting.

Overall, the level of debate has been incredibly low for the importance of the issue - mostly coming down to people saying "Scotland should be independent because Tories" and crude popularism about economic benefits, it's all been rather uncouth and depressing . Partly, I think that is because no-one really knows what the future of Scotland would be as an independent nation- everything that matters would have to be hashed out in negotiations afterwards, and those are negotiations where the UK has very little incentive to play ball.

Some of the ideas have been pure fantasy, like the idea that an independent Scotland could be an EU member and still charge English students tuition fees. others have just been farcical like the ridiculous debates about whether Scotland would have access to Dr Who on public television (yes this is really the level of debate)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 7:52 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Wretch729: "Is there a Nate Silver equivalent for the UK? I've been fascinated by this referendum vote as an outside observer, but if you look at the collected polling data a Yes majority seems pretty unlikely, given that the general expectation for referendums that would lead to such big changes and uncertainty is for yes voting to underperform the polling, and even without that effect there's hardly any poll that even shows a close vote. Am I missing something?"

The closest I've seen is the 'What Scotland Thinks' poll of polls. However, the polls seem to be really off for me, personally. They just don't seem to match what I see on the ground at all. There are about five Yes posters to every one in Edinburgh, where I live, and this is right in the centre, where arguably the No vote should be much more visible (Edinburgh is probably the most Anglicised and UK-friendly city in the country, with the exception of some of the posher bits of the Borders.) Just on Saturday there the whole of Leith Walk (a mile long street that connects the centre to the port of Leith) was filled from end to end with Yes events. Compared to a single No Thanks stall at the top of Leith Walk the following day.

And in Dundee and Glasgow, I'm seeing reports of entire streets blanketed with Yes signs and flags. I am very, very hopeful that the polls are just not picking up a real groundswell.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:54 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


"Has there been a decision on what the EU membership status of an independent Scotland would be?"

In Scotland, the EU thing is kind of up in the air. Some people are very pro EU, some very anti. But it's not relevant yet. It's a whole separate issue, worth a whole second referendum.

In the EU, I'm pretty sure they've got their fingers crossed for Scottish independence, because, you know, oil. Maybe they're not coming right out and saying it 'cause they're afraid to jinx it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:56 AM on August 25


(That said, the EU have been crossing their not-oily-enough fingers re: Norway for a very long time and so far have got bupkis.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:59 AM on August 25


I'm not sure the quality of the debate's been poor - it's just that it's not strongly on observable facts because no-one knows what's going to happen. So it boils down to questions of identity and values, and the relative capacities of Holyrood and Westminster to capture these. On that level, I've found some powerful arguments, generated as much in the pub as through the media. As a Scot living in London, very properly without the right to vote, I've been watching with great interest.
posted by YouRebelScum at 8:10 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I'm personally supportive of Scottish independence, though I am ambivalent as to whether there will be any real benefit other than moral.* However, I am immensely proud that I live in a country (or two countries, you be the judge!) which can decide such issues through discussion, debate, and democracy.

(*I think England will benefit far more because Scottish independence will spark a Long Hard Look at who we are and where we're going.)
posted by Thing at 8:11 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Happy Dave. I've been meaning to follow it much more closely from this side of the pond (rooting for a YES vote, fwiw), so I'm looking forward to diving into the links and following the discussion.
posted by scody at 8:19 AM on August 25


I'm curious about something tangential here - are there plans (or common theories or whatever) for what the name of "the current UK minus Scotland" will be? Obviously they could keep it as "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", and that would be true in a limited sense, but it seems kind of like a stretch. "The United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland"? "The United Kingdom"? Or my personal dark horse favorite, "The United Kingdom of Southern Great Britain and Northern Ireland"?
posted by Flunkie at 8:32 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Flunkie: "I'm curious about something tangential here - are there plans (or common theories or whatever) for what the name of "the current UK minus Scotland" will be? Obviously they could keep it as "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", and that would be true in a limited sense, but it seems kind of like a stretch. "The United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland"? "The United Kingdom"? Or my personal dark horse favorite, "The United Kingdom of Southern Great Britain and Northern Ireland"?"

Like many, many other things, it's all in the 'we're not going to prenegotiate' box. The UK government is point blank refusing to admit to any pre-planning for a Yes vote. To the point that some senior civil servants are making noises about that being a huge risk to any potential negotiation process. There was a reasonably good documentary about it on the iPlayer the other week there, which, while a bit doom-mongery, is a good summary of all the things that basically aren't being discussed at all before September 19th (currency, naming, flags, defence, the whole shebang).
posted by Happy Dave at 8:40 AM on August 25


BBC had a pretty good (from economical POV) hour long field report about the upcoming referendum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qNwWxMDDU8
posted by bdz at 8:52 AM on August 25


Salmond was absolutely destroyed last time. I'll tune in to see if he does any better this time...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 8:53 AM on August 25


Overall, the level of debate has been incredibly low for the importance of the issue - mostly coming down to people saying "Scotland should be independent because Tories" and crude popularism about economic benefits, it's all been rather uncouth and depressing

I think it depends upon where you go for your debate. I find the coverage in MSM somewhat at odds with what I'm seeing at ground level. People queueing in supermarkets are talking and both camps seem engaged and informed. "Because Tories" is a simplistic take on what I read under the #YesBecause hastag - it has more to do with self-determination than anything.

I am a Yes voter, though, and I know more about the discussions that we are having internally than what the No camp is delivering. Anecdata: I live in Glasgow and within a 1 minute walk from my home, the majority of houses are sporting Yes stickers. Then again, I think there is a real danger of living in an echo chamber right now. There are pockets of No voters too (mainly based around the oil industry and the finance sector areas with some parts of academia too).

Regardless, it is a really, really interesting time to be living in Scotland. I have no idea what is going to happen.
posted by kariebookish at 8:54 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I was fairly neutral until last week, now it looks likely that if Scotland left my town would be favourite for the new English site for nuclear weapons storage. I'm kind of shading towards better together now.
posted by biffa at 8:54 AM on August 25


If you're interested in a broader, Yes-focused view of what's been going on that strays away from mainstream media sources, I have really enjoyed a couple of Youtube channels.

The Indyref Weekly Review is a rather good summary of everything that's been going on (with an obvious and stated Yes bias).

Done with a straight face but a hilarious deadpan comic sensibility, Dateline Scotland is a brilliant satirical news programme.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:56 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Whether or not the EU (to the extent that it's meaningful at all to discuss the EU as a single entity) would welcome Scotland into the fold probably has a lot less to do with oil and a lot more to do with already existing concerns about overexpansion, and the related fear of political paralysis due to increasing the number of member state votes on major issues.

Many observers already believe that the EU expanded to the present 28 members too quickly, and point to the financial implosion of Greece and the ongoing trouble in Cyprus (A UN peacekeeping force has been deployed there since 1964) as cautionary tales.

Allowing Scotland in would also set a precedent for other separatist groups in Europe, notably the Basque and Catalan regions in Spain and the ever-fragmenting former Yugoslavia but also in Belgium (Flanders/Wallonia) and all over the EU. Admittedly most of these seccesionist movements are not very strong but you never know.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:02 AM on August 25


Does anyone know how reliable the polling was ahead of the last couple referenda on Quebec seceding? I ask because I have this theory that polling about this type of issue may not be as reliable because (1) pollsters don't see these types of referenda that often and (2) maybe the issues of national and cultural identity at play lead to larger last minute shifts in opinion.
posted by Area Man at 9:04 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Area Man assuming you mean the 1995 Quebec vote there's this paper (PDF).
We conclude that the pre-referendum polls slightly, but systematically, exaggerated the level of support for separation. An analysis of undecided voters suggests that there was a general decline in indecision during the course of the campaign. There was also substantial variation in percentages of undecided voters among polls, and among polling firms, only partly accounted for by differences that we were able to identify in the firms’ polling practices.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:10 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the post. Not Scottish but come from a family that has celebrated their Scottish roots since they arrived here in Canada so even though I'm a bit of a British Isles mutt Scotland is where we all feel we come from there more then anywhere else. It's weird how much of an emotional family connection there is now that I think about it. I also just started working for a Scottish sculptor and will likely be travelling to Scotland for work at least once a year so I'm really interested in seeing how this goes.

My work also involves regularly attending Scottish festivals and will likely see me attending trade shows with Scottish themes. I'm currently immersed in historical research and copy writing for art pieces related to clans and other historical whatnots, so yeah, Scotland is very much on my mind most days.
posted by Jalliah at 9:11 AM on August 25


Speaking as a Northerner (of England), "because Tories" is a strong vote-winner.

One thing from a UK perspective ; I've yet to some across (or hear of) any englishman saying, "I hope they vote yes, I can't wait to be shot of them." There is a strong affection for Scots south of the border, I think, and it isn't oil-related.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 9:12 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Happy Dave: "And in Dundee and Glasgow, I'm seeing reports of entire streets blanketed with Yes signs and flags. I am very, very hopeful that the polls are just not picking up a real groundswell."

I think there's a danger of the Pauline Kael effect, though - people do tend to associate with others who share their political viewpoints. And as the saying goes, "yard signs don't vote." Someone with a house draped in Yes signs has the same vote as the No voter who hasn't said a word about it.

That's not to advocate for either side, but it does seem that polling has pretty consistently favored No. Maybe No leaners will stay home on election day, but at this point, I'd be somewhat surprised by a Yes result.

I have an opinion on the CORRECT way to vote, but I do not live in Scotland, and thus will keep it to myself.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:12 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Here in Edinburgh, I get about five times as much "Vote Yes" literature slipped through my mail slot as I do "Vote No" literature, and a similar difference in the number of posters/flyers/booths I see. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that the No side has deliberately decided on a low-key strategy. Certainly the polls seem to indicate that there are plenty of No voters out there somewhere.

There's an apartment near Grassmarket which has Vote Yes posters in the window of one room and Vote No posters in the window of another. I've wondered if that's a family argument.

As a resident alien, I don't get a vote. Although I do have an opinion, especially since what happens could potentially affect me personally. A lot. So, we'll see ...
posted by kyrademon at 9:15 AM on August 25


devious truculent and unreliable: "One thing from a UK perspective ; I've yet to some across (or hear of) any englishman saying, "I hope they vote yes, I can't wait to be shot of them." There is a strong affection for Scots south of the border, I think, and it isn't oil-related."

Spend some time in the comments section of any UK-wide newspaper website, I've seen dozens. There's a lot of 'whinging subsidy junkies' chat around.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:16 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


kyrademon - you say you're a resident alien, are you from an EU or Commonwealth country? If so, you may be able to get a vote. Check the voting guide, p3.

Details from the Scottish Government referendum site:

People who can vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections will be able to vote in the referendum.

The following groups are entitled to be on the electoral register for the referendum:
  • British citizens resident in Scotland.
  • Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland who have leave to remain in the UK or do not require such leave.
  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland and other EU countries resident in Scotland.
  • Members of the House of Lords resident in Scotland.
  • Service personnel serving in the UK or overseas with the armed forces who are registered to vote in Scotland.
  • Crown personnel serving outside the UK with HM Government who are registered to vote in Scotland.

The key difference from normal voting arrangements is that the minimum age for voting in the referendum will be 16 instead of 18. This means that people who will be 16 years old by 18 September 2014, and are otherwise eligible, can register to vote.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:27 AM on August 25


As a resident alien, I don't get a vote.

I am a resident alien and I do get a vote. Curious as to why you wouldn't get one? Are you registered to vote in Scotland? I cannot vote in Westminster elections as I'm not a British citizen, but I'm allowed to vote in local elections (which this counts as) and I already have my polling card.
posted by kariebookish at 9:27 AM on August 25


One thing from a UK perspective ; I've yet to some across (or hear of) any englishman saying, "I hope they vote yes, I can't wait to be shot of them." There is a strong affection for Scots south of the border, I think, and it isn't oil-related.

We must live in very different Englands. I've heard a lot of people hope that Scotland leaves...and Wales, and Northern Ireland too. There's a strong current of opinion that the other three nations are just drags on England.
posted by Thing at 9:27 AM on August 25


However, the polls seem to be really off for me, personally.

So said almost everyone, ever, who was passionately committed to the side the polls didn't seem to support. I don't mean to snark, and it is occasionally the case that the polls for one reason or another don't capture the real public mood--but it is incredibly easy to mistake the fact that everyone you hang out with thinks a certain way for an accurate portrait of the wider public sentiment.

And numbers of yard signs/posters etc. really tells us nothing about how people will vote. By the nature of the debate, the "Yes" side is going to have the more activist, committed, impassioned supporters. The "no" side isn't coalescing around a vision or a cause--it's just saying "we think this step you're proposing is too risky." In Quebec the signs and other propaganda for the pro-separatist side massively--almost comically--outweighed whatever anti-separatist propaganda their was (if any). Nobody in Quebec--or almost nobody--is passionately "pro-Canadian." But it takes more than a bunch of signs to win at the ballot box.
posted by yoink at 9:27 AM on August 25 [4 favorites]


Spend some time in the comments section of any UK-wide newspaper website

I'd rather put a rusty spike through my foot, HD.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 9:29 AM on August 25 [8 favorites]


In the EU, I'm pretty sure they've got their fingers crossed for Scottish independence, because, you know, oil. Maybe they're not coming right out and saying it 'cause they're afraid to jinx it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:56 AM on August 25 [+] [!]


the biggest concern amongst other EU member governments is what a successful Yes vote and how it would be treated by the EU would influence their own separatist movements (Catalans in Spain; Basques in Spain/France; Flemish in Belgium; Northerners in Italy etc.) . I doubt that an independent Scotland would be given an easy or smooth process of reapplication because of this.

As for the oil, even if ( a big if) assuming the Scottish Nationalist's very optimistic forecasts on North Sea oil & gas are correct, it's no Norway.
posted by Bwithh at 9:30 AM on August 25


I have a certain penchant for punishing myself by always looking at the comments. No idea why. I blame Metafilter for setting an unrealistic baseline for me for discourse on the internet.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:31 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


> Happy Dave: "kyrademon - you say you're a resident alien, are you from an EU or Commonwealth country?"

I am not.

> kariebookish: "Curious as to why you wouldn't get one?"

See Happy Dave's list - I am not on it.

(I have to pop out for a while now, but when I get back in, I may write a bit about how the Referedum could affect my life.)
posted by kyrademon at 9:32 AM on August 25


We must live in very different Englands. I've heard a lot of people hope that Scotland leaves...and Wales, and Northern Ireland too. There's a strong current of opinion that the other three nations are just drags on England.

I've led a sheltered life ...

I blame Metafilter for setting an unrealistic baseline for me for discourse on the internet.

Isnt it amazing what $5 can do ?
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 9:33 AM on August 25


If the UK papers required a penny for every comment posted, they'd solve their circulation problems and their festering pits of comments in one fell swoop.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:34 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Quite by coincidence, my first ever trip to Scotland (in general) and Edinburgh (in particular) lines up up with this vote. As an American, I have no pony in this race (though I'd be fascinated to see how a "Yes" win would play out). That said: I'll be interested to watch the results among those that do.
posted by thivaia at 9:38 AM on August 25


I've led a sheltered life ...

Surely you've heard of the words "Barnett Formula" and the anger that they cause?
posted by Thing at 9:43 AM on August 25


One thing from a UK perspective ; I've yet to some across (or hear of) any englishman saying, "I hope they vote yes, I can't wait to be shot of them." There is a strong affection for Scots south of the border, I think, and it isn't oil-related.

Here's one.
posted by zoo at 9:50 AM on August 25


You mean you personally, zoo? Or did you forget to include a link?
posted by yoink at 9:59 AM on August 25


Interesting that various bits of Glasgow and Edinburgh are festooned with Yes posters/stickers/etc.

After a long time in Glasgow I relocated a few years back to very near where I grew up, in Angus, which is about as die-hard SNP territory as it gets. And anecdotally-speaking, there's not nearly the same kind of on-the-ground support for a Yes vote here, interestingly.

At my employer, I work with a lot of people much younger than me (I'm in my late 30s; many of them are 18-23), many of whom aren't normally too politically engaged, but who, in standard circumstances, would be happy to be the kind of Scots who love to watch England get beat at international football. And I hear them having discussions in the canteen* about the referendum, debating it with each other and asking the kind of pertinent questions that have been brought up here (EU membership? Currency? Oil reserves? etc.).

They're certainly much less pro-independence feeling as a bloc than I ever would have expected. Part of that is, perhaps, naked self-interest, because we all work for a company which has several customer service contracts with English transport organisations - if you're a Londoner who loses his or her Oyster card, you call an office in north east Scotland to order a replacement, for example -but it's led to them asking what happens to not just our company, but all the other companies that operate across the Scottish/English border and how the result of this referendum is going to affect all of them.

It's kind of been really fascinating to watch and (to an extent) participate in; these are mostly young voters who left school at 16 without much hope of ever getting near a university, who maybe are in the middle of continuing education at a local college, and they're much more engaged with the political process as a whole thanks to the referendum debate than I think they would have been otherwise.

And as I said before, they're much more sceptical of independence than I expected them to be, expecially when so much of the Yes campaign has been about encouraging the optimism of youth about Scotland's independent future. Talking about it the other day, one of my colleagues said to me that a Yes vote would make everything - taxes, the BBC, the military (her brother is in the army), a whole stack of other stuff - so much more uncertain than it already is, and that as someone who's pretty much grown up with uncertainty being the norm (she was 11 during the financial meltdown of 2007), she's not sure how much more she can deal with.


*Canteen = six chairs, a fridge, a microwave and a vending machine in a room smaller than my living room
posted by Len at 10:26 AM on August 25 [4 favorites]



Surely you've heard of the words "Barnett Formula" and the anger that they cause?


Im going out right now before someone mentions the West Lothian Question.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 11:12 AM on August 25


It's an interesting time. It's certainly got more people talking about the idea of governance than any time in recent history.

My own opinion is that the UK government priorities are dominated by the priorities of the city of london (in both the geographical and financial definition) to the active detriment of the rest of the country. I feel that the financial megacities of the world are analogous to the problem with European football right now, where the megaclubs in the various countries consume the entire resources of their domestic leagues in an international financial arms race, and thereby reduce the vitality and viability of their compatriots.

When they talk of their peers they mean the other mega-orgs and not their immediate partners. They nether recognise nor appreciate the value or necessity of the rest of the country. As an example, remember that during then recent Ukraine crisis, the number one priority for the UK government was to ensure that Russian money would continue to flow to London (on my phone so no link, but easily Google able on BBC or guardian).

When I speak to English friends and family and ask them how they would vote in a referendum to cut london free of the rest of the country, I'm hearing a unanimous yes. To my mind, that's the choice that we have to make.
posted by Jakey at 11:36 AM on August 25 [6 favorites]


> "... it's led to them asking what happens to not just our company, but all the other companies that operate across the Scottish/English border ... a Yes vote would make everything ... so much more uncertain than it already is ..."

These are very similar to the reasons why, if I could vote, I would almost certainly vote No.

It's not that I abhor the idea of an independent Scotland in any particular way, but every time the Yes Campaign/SNP/Scottish government has been asked a question about an independence-related issue that could very well affect me, they've given a non-answer along the lines of "We're sure everything will be just fine. Don't worry your pretty little heads about it."

Even taking into account the White Paper etc., it makes me very concerned that they don't have a coherent plan for what could happen, contingencies in place if things don't go the way they want them to, and in some cases any idea what might or might not occur. And on what strikes me as the rather short two-year timescale they've given from the vote to full independence, I think that's a recipe for a lot of things falling by the wayside, dropping through the cracks, or going horribly wrong for a good long while.

Explaining this from the personal level -- I live in Scotland because of my partner's job here as an astronomer. Her being able to do her job in a European country is only possible if that country is a member of ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Membership in ESO is not automatic, countries have to buy in by contributing to ESO's budget. The UK does this. Would an independent Scotland? Well, they've been asked (in regards to ESO specifically and similar organizations like CERN), and didn't really answer. Their answer amounted to, "We're sure everything will be just fine. Don't worry your pretty little heads about it." That's nice. Could you say what your plans are maybe?

My partner's University department gets a lot of funding from UK sources. Scotland has a lot of universities, so currently gets a goodly percentage of that funding. What happens to university funding when Scotland is independent? Does it go up? Go down? Stay the same? They've been asked, and their answer was again essentially, "We're sure everything will be just fine. Don't worry your pretty little heads about it." Which is not a number, or a budget, or a plan.

My partner's job has significant associations with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), based in Edinburgh. What happens to the UK ATC if Scotland splits off? What resources go to Britain and what goes to Scotland? What about resources that can't be divided that way? Will it just proceed in the exact same way? How?

What about all the other UK organizations with significant ties to Scotland? To cross-border businesses? What happens to all of it? If there are this many things that impinge on one person like me, how many things are there total? And I haven't even gotten to everything that could affect me (will we have to reapply for Visas?) or the "big ticket" questions (like EU membership or currency.)

Now, to be fair, it's not that a Yes vote would definitely cause me any problems at all. Scotland *could* join ESO. University funding *could* remain at levels that won't impact the people who work at them. The ATC *could* continue to work jointly over the border, or split in some reasonable way, or ... something.

But the fact that there have been no real answers worries me greatly and makes me think there isn't any plan. And if there isn't a plan, I think there are going to be real and big problems.
posted by kyrademon at 11:47 AM on August 25 [10 favorites]


Their answer amounted to, "We're sure everything will be just fine. Don't worry your pretty little heads about it." That's nice. Could you say what your plans are maybe?

This has basically been the Yes side's response to everything.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:05 PM on August 25


Im going out right now before someone mentions the West Lothian Question.

Well exactly. Both the Barnett Formula and the West Lothian Question are raised and used by English people to justify anti-Scottish feeling. The former might be a red herring but the latter is a real thing, and they've been around for years. It seems like you have heard people use them in an ill-disposed way.
posted by Thing at 12:19 PM on August 25


Wow, Salmond is ridiculous over currency. Saying "the sovereign will of the Scottish people is for a currency union!" means nothing. If the politicians in Westminster don't get Scottish votes they won't give a flying fig over any "democratic will" north of Berwick. There's a rude awakening for him if he really believes that the rUK government will do anything other than screw him over a barrel.
posted by Thing at 12:58 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


This has basically been the Yes side's response to everything.

Well, yes, but that's a natural result of the complete refusal of any pre-negotiation. The Yes campaign put out a huge white paper with a plan, at least, hopeful though it may be. The No side have out out fuck all but fear and doubt. There is a positive case to be made for the Union, but it has not been made. Instead, they have refused to acknowledge there are any problems at all with the Union and instead chosen to sow fear. Even when they know, for a fact, that they are stoking unfounded fears.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:10 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]


"If we're better together, how come we're not better together...already?"

That's the problem with this format. You can get some really dumb questions...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:13 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Echoing kyrademon, I'm in a situation where if Scotland ends up independent, this effects me personally quite a lot. Last year, my wife and I were involuntarily separated because she accepted an offer for a job conditional on a job being created for me, but that never materialized. So I live in the Netherlands. We're both Americans, so we have visa restrictions going back and forth. It's taken a year for me to get a job in Wales, which is a better situation, since we'll be in the same country. What happens if Scotland is independent? Then we're back in a similar situation, and it could make our lives quite difficult again.

Also, we're both scientists; currently, we depend on being able to apply for funding for funding from EU agencies. It isn't clear what would happen to this funding if Scotland were independent.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:19 PM on August 25


"We cannot be stopped from using the pound!"

Nor can Zimbabwe. For crying out loud, Salmond is wide open on currency: he has no answer and he knows it.
posted by Thing at 1:21 PM on August 25


Philosopher Dirtbike, what's dumb about that question? That is the real failure of Better Together in my opinion. A complete failure to acknowledge in any way that there is genuine dissatisfaction with how Westminster has been running things and the effect it has had on Scotland.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:25 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


The format for this section really isn't working. What a mess of a debate.
posted by Thing at 1:27 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Well, yes, but that's a natural result of the complete refusal of any pre-negotiation.

Why does there need to be prenegotiation for a thing that might not even happen? Refusing to engage in negotiations over a hypothetical is a lot less silly than promising that an independent Scotland would get to keep everything it likes and let go of everything it doesn't, and nothing is forcing Salmond to make promises about things he will have no control over.

It's reminiscent of the Americans who say that, if this or that election doesn't turn out the way they want, they're going to move to Canada, which is exactly like the U.S., but without all of those things that they personally dislike.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:28 PM on August 25


Philosopher Dirtbike, what's dumb about that question?

The meaning of the slogan is not "We're better together *than we are now*" but rather "We're better *than we would be if we were independent*". It's an independence referendum that's in question. You don't have to like everything that happens in the UK to believe that things would be worse if Scotland were independent.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:29 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


It's not that I abhor the idea of an independent Scotland in any particular way, but every time the Yes Campaign/SNP/Scottish government has been asked a question about an independence-related issue that could very well affect me, they've given a non-answer along the lines of "We're sure everything will be just fine. Don't worry your pretty little heads about it."


It's this plus the Yes side ( or at least Salmond and the SNP) seem to always argue for the assumption that post-independence everything will go their way with economic forecasts (oil revenues etc) and with any possible disagreement with the rest of the UK govt. , the EU, the BBC, industry skeptics etc. It's why they have no Plan B ( to be fair, it's really Plan C since keeping the pound as the plan emerged after the Euro crisis made the Euro problematic) on the currency issue (apart from "or else" - the threat to renege on the Scottish portion of UK debt , which would be terrible for Scottish borrowing costs...) even after having years or decades to figure it out. Somehow they expect the London-based UK govt which they see as very unreasonable and unthoughtful about Scotland for centuries to be suddenly super reasonable and thoughtful about rolling over and serving SNP goals after a yes vote.
posted by Bwithh at 1:29 PM on August 25


That white paper was an SNP masturbatory fantasy. It was high on wish fulfillment and utterly bereft of detailed discussion, nor was there any acknowledgement that things might not conform to the SNP's wishes, let alone what would happen in that eventuality.

For example, North Sea oil production has been declining since 2000, so relying on this as their basis for future funding is drug-addled. A Norwegian-style oil fund is a nice fantasy but 10% of bugger-all, and shrinking, is no basis for building a future nation's nest-egg. They would be better advised to spend their money on lottery tickets.

For me, the whole basis of Scotland as an independent nation has already been fatally undermined by the suggestion that unless the SNP get their own way that they will default on their obligations and debts to the UK. Do they honestly imagine that anyone without strong ulterior motives would lend them money in the future? Do they also imagine that England could now be persuaded to underwrite their currency and thus become liable for any future debts? As I said, drug-addled.
posted by epo at 1:33 PM on August 25


Do they also imagine that England could now be persuaded to underwrite their currency and thus become liable for any future debts.

Yes! But only by a long lease on Faslane...
posted by Thing at 1:34 PM on August 25


Salmond was way better in this debate. He must have really drilled, because he seemed much more polished and prepared. Also, he kept Darling off balance and flustered by speaking over him. The moderator did a horrible job of keeping order.

On substance, not much seems to changed from the first debate.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:05 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


My mother's father was came to America from near the Scottish border, so I'm intensely interested in the causes behind and the outcome of the referendum. Is there a better or more recent version of “Scottish independence: the essential guide” from The Guardian for curious but ultimately clueless Americans?
posted by ob1quixote at 2:14 PM on August 25


The first debate was far, far worse for moderation. Seriously, it was horrible. This was high school debate club by comparison.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:20 PM on August 25


Regarding the debt question, in january of this year the treasury issued a note stating that the UK government would honour all existing sterling debt. There is no question about this point. The yes campaign have said repeatedly that they would be willing to assume a fair proportion of this debt as part of an agreement on currency union. The no side then refuse to "pre-negotiate".

The no side continually claim that there are to many unanswered questions, whilst simultaneously refusing to negotiate on anything.
posted by Jakey at 3:12 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Hypothetically if voters support independence there will be a long and complicated divorce. Hard to see how a capital intensive industry like oil does well during that period of uncertainty. Local governments are going to have a hard time issuing debt for capital projects until it gets resolved. These two impacts alone would tend to setup conditions for a fairly severe economic downturn.
posted by humanfont at 3:15 PM on August 25


It should also be noted that all but one of the major press outlets is in the no camp. And even that one, the Sunday herald, essentially said we feel we have to cause no one else is. This has not helped the quality of the debate, with the no camp repeatedly getting a free pass on FUD.

For a partial, but fully referenced, resource I suggest The Wee Blue Book
posted by Jakey at 3:25 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


The no side continually claim that there are to many unanswered questions, whilst simultaneously refusing to negotiate on anything.

But the problem lies with the Yes campaign for it seeks sovereign power for Scotland but won't answer those questions within that remit. To say "we will negotiate as a sovereign country" is fine so long as there is an openness as to the unforeseeable outcome of such negotiation. Moaning that the No campaign won't negotiate beforehand is an odd and troubling position. For it not only expects the No campaign to relieve it of the worries of exercising sovereignty, but also suggests that the failure of a sovereign country to achieve its desired outcomes is the fault of another.

Can you imagine Salmond declaring in a year or two's time, "Scotland wanted a currency union but the UK wouldn't let us!", as though it lets him off the hook for dealing with currency issues? You cannot, as a sovereign nation, go into negotiation with the expectation that the country on the other side of the table can, will, or wants to, solve your problems. The declaration that the UK would meet all sterling debts was needful to calm fears over the currency in the medium term while also taking away a weapon from an independent Scotland. Salmond may be met by a vigorous indifference to his currency problems during real negotiations, and, as I've suggested above, be forced to play what few cards he has (Faslane being one).

The Yes campaign want a fair-weather sovereignty and are complaining that nobody will tell them the forecast.
posted by Thing at 4:16 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Vive le Québec libre!
posted by clvrmnky at 6:26 PM on August 25


It should also be noted that all but one of the major press outlets is in the no camp. And even that one, the Sunday herald

The (London-based) Guardian somewhat leans towards Yes in its coverage and commentary, even sometimes when reporting dry data (poll results etc.). I think this is more to satisfy the break-up-the-UK-let's-reinvent-everything-as-small-progressive-communities radicals amongst the lefty end of their readership though then it is really about Scotland itself.
posted by Bwithh at 9:53 PM on August 25


The Wee Blue Book suggests that if independence is voted for everyone will have a mutual interest in sorting things out quickly as to avoid a massive disruption. Hahaha the fucking English are going to suddenly be reasonable and seek to resolve things amicably out of a mutual interest. OMG have these Scots learned nothing in the last 1000 years of their own history.
posted by humanfont at 10:12 PM on August 25


Thing: "You cannot, as a sovereign nation, go into negotiation with the expectation that the country on the other side of the table can, will, or wants to, solve your problems."

Equally, you can't go into a negotiation having already explained, in detail, what you'll accept and why. Which is effectively what Better Together are demanding.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:46 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


rongorongo - That Economist editorial seems surprising weak, to my mind.
Agreed. It was one of those cases where the opinion of the minion who wrote it seemed to hold a different opinion to the editors - and, most particularly, whoever designed the cover.

Personally, I think a revealing distinction is the difference in levels of Yes support between those in Scotland's creative and accounting industries. The former (JK Rowling excepted) seem to be largely in favour of independence. The latter are pretty much against. A move towards independence is definitely one which embraces risk - and somebody whose idea of risk is an algorithm on a spreadsheet is going to have a very different perspective with one who thinks about it as an essential corollary for growth.

The dividing line between Yes and No voters does seem to be very finely fractured - and I've seen workplaces, families, groups of friends and couples where those who are otherwise close to each other find themselves in opposite camps.

Anyway - ICM polls this morning are putting Salmond ahead in last night's debate
posted by rongorongo at 11:52 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


The (London-based) Guardian somewhat leans towards Yes in its coverage

You really need to show sources for this. There is not one London based Newspaper and barely one in Scotland that "leans" towards yes. The BBC in Scotland and across the main news has shown itself to truly be a state broadcaster protecting its government.
If the only sources of information people are using are from newspapers or national broadcasters you should really spend the time to look beyond them and investigate other sources before entering discussions. Go attend some meetings and talk to those actually on the ground in the estates and streets. If you are not in the country there are plenty of well attended recorded debates on line, see and hear what people are talking about rather than just listen to the old forms of information.
posted by stuartmm at 1:01 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


The fact that over a million people (apparently de-duped and cross checked with the electoral register) knew about, and signed the above mentioned "Yes" Declaration does strike me as remarkable. Scotland's overall electorate is 4.2 million.

The Proclaimers do claim that, with a Yes victory, they would stop playing their song Cap In Hand but that can't be the only reason. The population of Stranraer is not that big
posted by rongorongo at 1:37 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Equally, you can't go into a negotiation having already explained, in detail, what you'll accept and why. Which is effectively what Better Together are demanding.

The negotiations are not with the Better Together campaign.
posted by epo at 2:38 AM on August 26


epo: The negotiations are not with the Better Together campaign."

No, they're not. But why one side should be held to a standard whereby they are required to break down everything they intend to negotiate, in detail, down to order of preference, and the other side can wibble about mysterious additional powers that might be devolved with no detail, consequence or censure is beyond me.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:56 AM on August 26


[A couple of comments deleted; Zoo, I'm not really sure why you are doing this, but this isn't the spot for a flamewar ragefest rant thing about how much you hate Scotland. You might want to just blog that or tweet that or whatever, but maybe try to just discuss with other real people here, rather than dismissing a whole country as "a whining, racist, bullshit place" and sneering about "champagne socialists." ]
posted by taz at 3:33 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


For a partial, but fully referenced, resource I suggest The Wee Blue Book

For those who are undecided, tired of empty assertions or just interested in political debate: I'd recommend this document. The Wee Book is indeed partial - but it is impeccably researched and more coherently argued than anything I've heard coming from a newspaper, tv program or political party. The Rev. Stuart Cambell - who was previously best known as a computer games journalist - is the guy behind it - and WingsOverScotland.
posted by rongorongo at 5:04 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


No, they're not. But why one side should be held to a standard whereby they are required to break down everything they intend to negotiate, in detail, down to order of preference, and the other side can wibble about mysterious additional powers that might be devolved with no detail, consequence or censure is beyond me.

Well, one side wants sovereignty, hence the different standards!

Anyway, we'll see. I support Scottish independence but more for moral reasons than anything else. Independence could be great for Scotland or it could be awful, though I think it will be a wash. We'll soon learn whether the answers to some of the unanswered questions were pertinent or not.
posted by Thing at 5:20 AM on August 26


The fact that over a million people (apparently de-duped and cross checked with the electoral register) knew about, and signed the above mentioned "Yes" Declaration does strike me as remarkable. Scotland's overall electorate is 4.2 million.

Wanting a referendum where one could vote no could be considered a legitimate political stance. In any case, doesn't this referendum also include 16 and 17-year-old's? They aren't part of the usual electorate.

Some of the debating points from both sides have been shitty, but from this side of the world, much respect for any country that decides on secession-related questions through referenda. Really wish systems in Asia become mature enough to consider referenda as a legitimate electoral exercise for questions that can't be answered through the regular political process.
posted by the cydonian at 7:02 AM on August 26


If the only sources of information people are using are from newspapers or national broadcasters you should really spend the time to look beyond them and investigate other sources before entering discussions. Go attend some meetings and talk to those actually on the ground in the estates and streets. If you are not in the country there are plenty of well attended recorded debates on line, see and hear what people are talking about rather than just listen to the old forms of information.

My comment was about newspaper coverage bias not the question of independence itself - whether the Guardian is biased or not one way or the other doesn't impact the independence debate. I'm in California, and my interest in listening to extended debates online about newspaper bias in my home country is more than zero but still limited. My opinion of the Guardian's coverage was based on comparing its coverage with those of Scottish newspapers.
posted by Bwithh at 8:29 AM on August 26




What I find interesting (as a Canadian with Scottish roots) after the Quebec fiasco, is the effort to separate Scottish nationalism from an ethnic separatism, and focus on a Scottish civic culture with a more welcoming attitude to migrants and cultural diversity.

(That's what the spin looks like, anyway, i wonder if the undercurrent is different on the ground... Hope not).

Also, I'm sympathetic to the argument Salmand makes that spending billions on WMD when you have 100,000 people living in poverty is a bad policy and would make me furious too.
posted by chapps at 10:26 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


And in Dundee and Glasgow, I'm seeing reports of entire streets blanketed with Yes signs and flags. I am very, very hopeful that the polls are just not picking up a real groundswell.

And old argumentative jakies like myself that haven't voted in decades, the only people who lose here are the Labour Party.

Anyone with any experience of Quebec's referendum - really interested to hear about that.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:09 AM on August 29


Poor Alistair got completely pwned in that last debate. “Of course we can use the pound,” he said, and it was all over. Robert Florence summed it up best: Alistair Darling's lips - better together.

Though I'm Scottish, I quite rightly don't get a vote, since I live away. There's a weird split in opinion based on age: those I know older than me (45) take it as foregone that it will be no, but almost universally, everyone younger than me is massively fired up about Yes. All the vitriol and resentment is coming from the No side, usually in the form of complaining about those unruly Yes proles.

I think Yes is the right way to go, as it's the more responsible option. There would be a ton of hard negotiating post-Yes, though, and I think Salmond's exactly the right kind of bastard to drive it. A good, neutral guide to some of the economic questions that an independent Scotland would have to face is Scotland’s Future: The Economics of Constitutional Change.
posted by scruss at 4:28 PM on August 30




YouGov, which hitherto has consistently favoured a No vote, has reported a dramatic swing to Yes in the last two weeks.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:15 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]




The latest poll has stunned even the Yes side, people who are campaigning for independence shocked by the possibility of winning.

I can't wait for referendum night. We are so close to a great yes victory.
posted by redskythinking at 4:02 PM on September 2


Scotland could be sitting on more than double the amount of oil and gas reserves currently predicted, a new independent industry investigation has found. The investigation reveals that the scale of Scotland’s untapped frontier West Coast or Atlantic Margin has been underestimated....The findings show that the current predictions of extensive untapped reserves of oil and gas could be underestimated by 100%. The West Coast alone could provide oil and gas for at least 100 years with an estimated value of more than £1 trillion.

I don't know how we'll cope with the burden.
posted by rongorongo at 12:41 PM on September 3


Washington DC Journalist Will McLoed, provides an American perspective on the campaign to NetRoots Radio.
posted by rongorongo at 1:02 PM on September 3


All the bookmakers still have "No" as the favorite, but the gap between the Yes/No odds has considerably narrowed of late.
posted by Wordshore at 4:56 PM on September 3


Two weeks to go today. The tension is fucking killing me.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:28 PM on September 3


This is a great interactive from Allan Little at the BBC. It's a pretty good summary of the changes in Scottish society that have brought us to this point. It's also refreshingly balanced.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:49 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Like most of my peers, I left the Highlands more than 20 years ago, in my case first for Aberdeen, then a few years later, the US. We'd been told, for generations back to the Clearances there was no future for us there. The devolved parliament has been a blessing for the region. Land is slowly, but surely, being returned to the communities. The region is being promoted as a place to live and do business, where enterprise and initiative are rewarded. Many of my friends have moved back and are thriving. I've watched the revitalization of the area from afar and I don't recognize the Scotland Better Together have been painting - too small, too wee, too poor. I fell for that line in my teens and I'm disgusted they're now using it to scare the rest of Scotland into voting No. It's a disgraceful strategy and the fact that polls show it just working enough is depressing.
posted by IanMorr at 12:47 PM on September 4 [3 favorites]


(My friend and I want to watch the results come in in Canada... Anyone got tips for live coverage streaming online?)
posted by chapps at 5:50 PM on September 4




Sky News Megamix
posted by IanMorr at 7:42 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


sgt. serenity, regarding the Quebec experience ... you may be interested to read Chantal Hebert's just released book on the "inside story" of the Quebec 1995 referendum on sovereignty.

There is a discussion of it here on the CBC "At Issue Panel", where Hebert is a panel member.

Toronto star has some excerpts of the book here.

In my own experience.... I had just moved back to BC from Quebec when the 1995 referendum was held. I had been an Anglophone out of province student for three years. I was there for the Charlottetown referendum.

My experience is seen through the lens of urban Montréal, where the Montrealers I met were through social activism. It was common for my activist immigrant friends to be pro-separatist--my closest friend is Armenian, many of the rest were latin American refugees who came to Quebec when their activism made it too dangerous to stay in their original country. Most of these folks were married to/partners with a francophone Quebec separatist. For them, separatism was an opportunity to build an ideal progressive country, to finish the project of social justice they brought with them. It was completely unlike what you would hear in the English news about Quebec seperatists back home. (And they knew nothing about politics in BC). When Perizeau blamed the failure of the referendum to support separation, there was an immense sense of betrayal among them, and they will never go back to the PQ, instead supporting Quebec Solidaire.
posted by chapps at 9:03 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


I spent about six hours campaigning in Edinburgh today. It was a great experience. One of the most encouraging things was that even the vehement No voters I spoke to thanked me, on the whole, for volunteering and engaging with such an important question.

Dozens of people gave me thumbs up, tooted car horns, or in the case of a few older gents, flipped their lapel back to show me a tiny Yes pin. I'd say it was about 40% confirmed Yes, 30% or so definite No and a lot of people who had already voted by post.

It was great fun. I'll be doing it again. I'm away to have a sit down and a cup of tea.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:54 AM on September 6 [5 favorites]


And, I'm sure due to my devastatingly effective campaigning today, the British Establishment just shat a collective brick and are about to offer a federal convention in the event of a No vote.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:21 PM on September 6


And Yes are ahead in the latest YouGov poll.

*fist pump*

Back to the campaign stall this week for me then.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:34 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Here's YouGov's release. From three points behind to two points ahead in a week. A WEEK.

My gob is smacked.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:41 PM on September 6


Yeah, my jaw has dropped reading the tweets of the political editor of the Sunday Times. For more than a few Scots, the prospect of forcing a Tory Prime Minister in London to resign will have them running to the polling station to vote yes.
posted by Wordshore at 1:49 PM on September 6


That's... wow.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:01 PM on September 6


Two birds with one stone. What a red letter day that will be.
posted by Thing at 2:25 PM on September 6


Oh look; the UK opposition leader is apparently suggesting some kind of US/Mexico border situation between Scotland and England. You couldn't make this up.

Except it's the Daily Mail, so it's probably at the least a bit exaggerated...
posted by Wordshore at 2:32 PM on September 6


Haha, wow. I expect that interview was given before this poll came out.

I always thought Ed Milliband's major flaw was that he was boring and had the nasal voice of a school prefect, but apparently he can't read a mood either.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:41 PM on September 6


I find it weird that some people are so desperate to keep Scotland (or Wales or Northern Ireland). The whole UK thing has never been important in my outlook and so its breakup is basically a (happy) irrelevance. It's almost as though their identity is built upon being British rather than English and that the world's about to end. As somebody who doesn't identify with Britain or the UK at all--as opposed to England--I am overjoyed that Scotland will leave.

Again, it's a weird disconnect to be so genuinely excited about the future of England after 18 September while others are threatening Scotland to stay.
posted by Thing at 2:43 PM on September 6


I do fear what will happen over the next 12 days as the Westminster and UK government black ops swing into full effect.

Smear campaign and rumors about Salmond; a high profile attack or major incident that is thwarted or solved by UK forces; odd things happening with postal votes (Labour have a reputation for this in a few English cities); a major Scottish employer threatens total closure and a full move to England if independence happens; [other]...

Stranger things have happened in recent Scottish history.
posted by Wordshore at 3:43 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]




> "The whole UK thing has never been important in my outlook and so its breakup is basically a (happy) irrelevance."

It's not irrelevant to some of us. It could very well result in real, serious problems for me and many people I know.

Nationalism isn't the only issue on either side.
posted by kyrademon at 3:38 AM on September 7


"Wow, Salmond is ridiculous over currency. Saying 'the sovereign will of the Scottish people is for a currency union!' means nothing."

I looked for this post after reading today's story in the Guardian about the latest polling. I've really appreciated the previous MeFi posts on this topic for educating me about the history and politics involved.

And with that in mind, I'm quite sympathetic to the SNP because, as I understand it, Scotland has been held captive to the long, rightward movement of the UK Parliament and Scotland's continuing left alignment has caused its political influence in Parliament to fall. If maybe for a long while the concerns about self-determination had been lessening after union, they've been increasing since Thatcher.

That said, with my interest in macroeconomics, the recessions since the financial crash, and what's been going on in the EU, I've been pretty alarmed about Salmond's, the SNP's, and apparently the vast majority of Scots strong desire for a currency union. This would be a huge mistake within the context of an independent Scotland pursuing a stronger leftist domestic agenda, which is a big part of the point.

An independent Scotland using the pound in, for example, a recession is going to be badly hurt by the policies of a right-leaning BofE that will be working against Holyrood fiscal policies to support the unemployed and poor. And, more generally, an independent Scotland will be more in control of its own economic policy, including the disposition of the wealth from its natural resources, and could very well experience quite divergent economic conditions from England and Wales. So a BofE policy that tightens or loosens money according to southern economic conditions could be precisely the wrong thing for Scotland.

And you could say, well, part of independence would be negotiating a currency union where the BofE becomes a more generalized central bank of pound sterling with a mandate to look toward the economic interests of all parts of the currency union, as is the case with the euro. But that would turn out the way that the ECB and the euro has turned out, with the central bank concerned primarily with the economic conditions of its core constituency.

Indeed, the theory and expert opinion on shared currency is that there must be pretty strong fiscal integration as well as monetary because the fiscal integration (such as is the case among the US states) means that fiscal transfers can offset the increased imbalances under intra-regionally divergent economic conditions within a currency union. A lot of people believe that the only way for the euro to work in the future is with stronger fiscal integration in the EU.

But this is exactly the opposite of what we're talking about with Scotland and the UK. This would be moving toward fiscal independence, and away from the integration as there is now. And so, ironically, in many respects independence with a currency union could be the worst of all possible worlds, worse than the present situation. It could mean that under many conditions the BofE could completely undermine Holyrood fiscal policy in the event of recessions, and -- this is a pretty important part -- enough so that public opinion would blame Holyrood and leftist policies, not the BofE's monetary policy. That would be bad.

The enthusiasm for the euro was partly motivated by some real economic benefits, the obvious ones. But the larger part of that enthusiasm has always been about the symbolism. The two taken together cause the average person in such conditions (the EU, the UK) to think that a currency union is an obvious unmitigated good. But it's not, and this is especially true when the economic conditions of different regions within the currency union are quite divergent. And the worst part is that people end up caring most about actual economic conditions on the ground; unemployment, wages, and prices and disatisfaction with these things is often a motivating factor for self-rule movements like this one -- and the outcome could perversely be worse than the status quo.

Given the analysis of the political results of independence that I've seen here, it seems like an independent Scotland would be notably leftward aligned relative to the present, and the UK would be even freer to move rightward than it already has. It seems to me that any assumptions that the BofE monetary policies would care one whit about Scotland are fantastical and that it could well be hostile.

If Scotland doesn't like the idea of its own currency -- and though what I've written above is true, I don't think there's much likelihood of convincing the average person of it -- then the euro would be a much better choice than the pound, despite the integration between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Much of that would continue; but independence would cause a hit, nevertheless. Look at the history in Canada, where the rise of the PQ ended up causing a fair amount of economic disintegration (which, mind you, I think a lot of québécois are quite happy with, being less yoked to Toronto's financial/economic interests than before). Independence will mean some disintegration. Given that, membership in the euro currency union might compensate to some degree and the ECB policies could well be more favorable for Scotland than the BofE's with the pound.

Maybe not -- all my arguments about currency unions are just as relevant and you could easily argue that Scotland would be more divergent from what the ECB cares about than what the BofE cares about. But I have this intuition that there would be some underlying resentments and hostilities that would show up in monetary policy in this scenario. I mean, I know little about the politics, but what I've seen is already that UK political officials have been willing to think in these terms.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:08 AM on September 7


Scotland has been held captive to the long, rightward movement of the UK Parliament and Scotland's continuing left alignment has caused its political influence in Parliament to fall. If maybe for a long while the concerns about self-determination had been lessening after union, they've been increasing since Thatcher.

As an Englishman from England, though who lived in Scotland from 1999 for a decade and has Scottish ancestry, that's pretty much how I see it too.

I hope the vote is for Yes. Still thinking it will be a narrow No, but I hope I'm too pessimistic.
posted by Wordshore at 8:32 AM on September 7


Oh look; the UK opposition leader is apparently suggesting some kind of US/Mexico border situation between Scotland and England.

They should put up a wall!

(Seriously, though, that Ed Miliband quote is all kinds of duh. International borders are generally guarded, at least at the crossings. It's not really the alarmist headline the Mail would like it to be.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:51 PM on September 7


I have to imagine that all this talk of using the pound sterling is disingenuous and purely meant to reassure the average Scot about independence. I imagine that not long after the separation Scotland would move to its own currency (presumably the Pound Scots) for all the reasons that Ivan Fyodorovich provides.
posted by crazy with stars at 4:56 PM on September 7


> "I have to imagine that all this talk of using the pound sterling is disingenuous ..."

That seems extremely unlikely. It's one of the major planks of the Yes campaign.

I may not agree with them on many points, but it seems weird to assume the Yes campaign/SNP is just lying. I take them at their word that they believe what they say both when they campaign on stuff I agree with and when they campaign on stuff I disagree with.

It's not that I believe politicians never lie, but U.S. politics while I still lived there amply demonstrated that playing the "No, they don't really mean X when they say X, they're just trying not to scare off voters" game is often just wish-fulfillment. If they campaign on doing something specific, it's almost always best to take it as meaning exactly what they said.
posted by kyrademon at 6:14 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]




I looked for this post after reading today's story in the Guardian about the latest polling. I've really appreciated the previous MeFi posts on this topic for educating me about the history and politics involved.

I'm interested that you quoted me. While your analysis is quite right in that England and Scotland will have different financial priorities after independence, my point was about them joining. I don't see them being let join unless England wants it too. It's really in the hands of the English. government and has nothing to do with Scotland, bar from the concessions they're willing to make. Maybe that's it: sterling is all about concessions for Scotland, when they join and while they're using it.
posted by Thing at 4:33 AM on September 8


Happy Dave, I know it's late in the thread, but because many of us will be visiting it until it closes, I figured it was worth writing... and writing... and writing... a response to your implied question about where all the No voters are. It's here. It's long, but at least not as long as all the online comments threads I've been reading end-to-end over recent months and years. It wasn't only prompted by this thread - parts of it are months-old - but this was the catalyst to finish it.

You will at least find it refreshingly free of the names "Salmond" and "Darling"; I know perfectly well that the issue isn't about fleeting political personalities. You'll probably disagree with some of my assumptions about the transition to EU membership, but I don't go on about all that stuff either. I've tried to focus on the personal basis for my position, rather than macro-economics. It's an uncommon position, perhaps, because I'm an immigrant, which means the independence debate brings a tangle of difficult questions in its wake, some of which have made life personally difficult for me and my family. When Thing comments above (from an English perspective) that "I find it weird that some people are so desperate to keep Scotland ... It's almost as though their identity is built upon being British rather than English and that the world's about to end" my response is that my identity is partly built on being a British citizen in Scotland rather than a Scot. One brief quote from my long post:

If I have any useful perspective to offer, it's that of an immigrant; I'm not, and never will be, a Scot - as every media story about the decision facing "the Scots" subtly reminds me. I came here for the chance to live in the UK, and for a specific job on offer in Edinburgh, and stayed. It's been a good part of the UK to live in, for many reasons - the sorts of reasons any Yes supporter will readily tell you - but a key attraction has always been that it's part of the UK in all its multifaceted diversity, as well as part of Europe (which is at threat too, but that's the next political battle). I wonder how many Scots know just how much immigrants value those larger memberships that our UK residency and citizenship have brought us, and how much harder it will be to attract immigrants without them. Some won't care, either because we're a negligible minority or they think Scotland shouldn't have as many immigrants anyway. But the Scottish Government has been talking of how an independent Scotland will need more immigration, because they know that supporting its greying population will be difficult in the long term without it. I don't see much acknowledgement of the challenges of attracting immigrants to a small country with a neighbour ten times the size.

Because I've changed the country I live in, I know that nobody's world is about to end if Scotland's voters change the country we live in, but I can make a fair guess about how disruptive it will be to our lives. And our lives are short. The historical blip of a difficult transition period won't feel like such a blip on a human timeframe. I don't relish that prospect, and I'm not voting for it.
posted by rory at 5:46 AM on September 8




rory, thanks for the long post. I'm at work, so haven't yet read it, but it's Instapapered for later. As the husband of an American dual citizen who went through the gruelling British citizenship process, I understand the mixed emotions.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:08 AM on September 8


Oh, and I'm intending to do another roundup post just before the vote, as rather a lot is happening at the moment, what with the Unionist love-bombing and Yes surge in the polls.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:09 AM on September 8


I have a rather appalling habit of reading the next day's newspaper in the losing team's city when one of the teams I support wins a big game.

Confessing to this doesn't place my moral character in the most charming light, I know. But I mention it because I realized today that my recent perusal of the Belfast Telegraph's spate of articles on Scottish independence had something of the same flavour...unkind, but there it is. For me at least that's the most fascinating aspect of a potential yes vote ---- on a practical level, the arguments I think are strong with the No side. But it's not a practical question, is it, really? The practical impact on Northern Ireland is fairly minimal. But emotionally, psychologically, identity-wise....it will be interesting.

I wonder what they'll say of Andy Murry's Wimbledon victory, if the yes-es have it.
posted by Diablevert at 8:47 AM on September 8


Also, in re the tweets linked above --- why would a Yes vote force a Cameron resignation? I mean, it is the Tories so I suppose the symbolism of chipping away at the foundations of the UK is enough. But really if Scotland goes, as a practical matter they'll have a much better chance of maintaining a conservative majority for decades to come, no? Seems like Tory MPs should be sending Salmond a thank you card if Scotland goes, it's not like they'll be losing any colleagues.
posted by Diablevert at 8:54 AM on September 8


Thanks for posting your perspective rory, interesting to read. I disagree with much of what you've said, but I will say that I am proud that you have a vote, and I, who was born but doesn't live there, do not. I think it's absolutely the correct way to do this and I think it reflects the inclusive, socially-just society an independent Scotland is intended to be.
posted by IanMorr at 8:58 AM on September 8


Diablevert, I imagine the thinking would be that he's the PM who 'lost' Scotland, though it's most likely an excuse to trigger a no-confidence vote and usher in Boris. Of course, the Scottish Independence debate being reduced in the establishment papers to its impact on Westminster is kind of the point the Scots are making.
posted by IanMorr at 9:04 AM on September 8


I think it's absolutely the correct way to do this and I think it reflects the inclusive, socially-just society an independent Scotland is intended to be.

I agree, it's the only practical way, and the correct way; I don't vote in Australian elections, even though I'm still a (dual) citizen, and care a lot about what happens there. But you could just as easily interpret the electoral basis of the referendum as reflecting the inclusive, socially just society of the United Kingdom. I can vote because I'm a UK citizen, but even when I was only a resident Australian, I could vote as a member of the Commonwealth, which the system has allowed for a long time; I spent a year in England as a student in 1991-92, and helped swing a Tory seat narrowly to Labour while I was there. One of the positive legacies of Empire, for me anyway (and for that 1992 MP).
posted by rory at 9:28 AM on September 8


I have to imagine that all this talk of using the pound sterling is disingenuous and purely meant to reassure the average Scot about independence. I imagine that not long after the separation Scotland would move to its own currency (presumably the Pound Scots)

These are not mutually exclusive ideas.

The currency of Scotland is the Pound Sterling. This is enshrined in UK law. I'm pretty sure an independent Scotland doesn't mean starting with a blank slate; pre-existing UK laws are still on the books, right?

As it is now, Scottish commercial banks are allowed to, and do, print their own bank notes, so there are Pounds with, for example "Bank of Scotland" written on them. (Technically they're promissory notes, not legal tender, but in practice they function the same way.) One of the reasons many in Scotland are anti-Euro (especially in terms of the intact UK using the Euro) is because that would be the end of this Scottish currency. (I suspect, however, that in an independent Scotland, the idea of a Euro labelled 'Alba' with a thistle on it will be more appealing than English money with corporate labels. But then someone will say, "But the Euro is too volatile," and that'll be the end of that.)

Really, though, given the framework that's already in place with pre-existing legislation, it wouldn't take much to just have a proper, centralised Scottish pound that is not tied to the English one. In the meantime, there's no compelling reason to chuck the status quo.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 AM on September 8


I really can't imagine Cameron retaining the confidence of Parliament, let alone his party, if Scotland goes. All bets will be off. The situation would practically demand early elections for Westminster and Holyrood, before negotiations start over the terms of separation. Expect the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 post-haste.
posted by rory at 9:35 AM on September 8


As the husband of an American dual citizen who went through the gruelling British citizenship process, I understand the mixed emotions.

That's interesting to hear, Dave. I was wondering just this morning how my own feelings and experiences would compare with another Australian I know, who's married to a Scot; I suspect she may be viewed and treated differently because of it. My wife and I moved here together, and I don't think a year has passed when one or the other of us hasn't been asked directly if we're going home, as in going going; even when you aren't explicitly asked, you can too often detect an assumption that you're just passing through. I thought that would change once our kids came along, and it did a bit, for a while, until the referendum loomed. Now I'm bracing myself for being the foreigner again post-Yes. I'll be doing the same post-No, come to that, if the result is this close.
posted by rory at 9:40 AM on September 8


But really if Scotland goes, as a practical matter they'll have a much better chance of maintaining a conservative majority for decades to come, no?

I think this is a canard. Political realignments have happened in the past and will do in the future. Blair showed that Labour could become more centrist if it wanted to, and the last election showed that the Lib Dems could attract a good share of the vote. They can both appeal to voters who might sometimes vote Conservative. Indeed, the loss of Scottish votes might even free them to present a more centrist outlook. Maybe the whole political spectrum in England will shift a little rightwards because of this, but that may or may not be a bad thing, and it won't mean a Conservative government forever. Indeed, Scotland could shift a little rightward too as there are signs that the Conservative brand is so toxic that it prevents people identifying with their policies. It's an interesting future for all the countries involved.
posted by Thing at 9:52 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


England could rediscover its inner Whig.
posted by rory at 12:43 PM on September 8


Interestingly, Paul Krugman's Sunday NYT column is pretty much the same as my comment above (excepting he doesn't suggest that Scotland go with the euro). I'm amused at this coincidence; but it's not really a coincidence given that I read Krugman every day and I read a lot of the same stuff he reads. I don't think he's blogged about an independent Scotland sharing the pound, but maybe I've forgotten -- it's kind of revealing that he felt it was important enough to devote one of his weekly columns to the topic.

Because it really would be a recipe for disaster for an independent Scotland to be yoked to the BoE.

The first couple of paragraphs mention that there would probably be some economic costs for being less economically integrated with the UK, which would be inevitable. But that might be a perfectly reasonable price to pay for the increase in independence. Krugman's primary concern is the prospect of a common currency.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:47 PM on September 8


> Because it really would be a recipe for disaster for an independent Scotland to be yoked to the BoE.

Why would that be the case? Presumably most of Scotland's trade would be with England, and if the likely alternative is the Euro, given the choice between two currencies that you don't have exclusive control over, you might as well go for the one that most of your trade is denominated in. With the Euro you're effectively yoked to the Germans and it's not clear from the last few years that they are necessarily better masters to live under.

Of course a completely separate currency is an option too, but that would introduce some significant exchange rate risk with cross-border trade, unless it was officially a separate currency but de facto pegged to the GBP. There are lots of historical examples of that happening though (e.g. quite a few Caribbean states have USD pegs although officially they're separate currencies with their own issuing banks), so maybe it's the most likely outcome.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:54 PM on September 8


"With the Euro you're effectively yoked to the Germans and it's not clear from the last few years that they are necessarily better masters to live under."

That's true about the reality of the ECB, but still I think the euro would be an improvement over the pound sterling.

The difference, as Krugman points out, is that the ECB is at least nominally an organ of the currency union with a mandate for the best monetary policy for the eurozone. For this to be the case with the pound sterling would require a complete restructuring of both the governance and functioning of monetary policy in the UK, and in a way that would implicitly cede some control and interests of the central bank to a foreign power. And put that possibility into the political context of a post-independence Scotland that is to the left of an even further right-leaning Westminster and the public sentiment in the UK which would prevail?

Not only do I think that there's no chance that a pound sterling central bank would exist that's not the status quo of a UK central bank (which, incidentally, is the Bank of England), but I think that post-independence the UK would likely be somewhat hostile to caring at all about how BoE monetary policy affects Scotland.

With regard to the currency your trade is denominated in, consider for a moment Ireland, which uses the euro. But, roughly, while the eurozone collectively accounts for the largest amount of trade, it's just about equal to its combined UK and US trade. As for individual countries, the US and UK are far and away ahead of any eurozone country.

These days, really, trading with other currencies is transparent and does not create the kind of economic friction it used to. Scotland using the euro wouldn't have too much trouble trading with the UK and, with regard to having their own currency and exchange risk, that's just the flip side of the benefits of having sovereign control over your currency. Firms will worry about exchange risk in general; but in the cases of economic divergence, a separate currency will end up working to those firms benefit in contrast to conditions under a common currency.

Pegging to the pound wouldn't be a good idea, I think. That's always sort of wanting your cake and to eat it, too. It creates a dynamic where you've mostly ceded away control of your currency, but without the full benefits of a common currency, and then when you have really good reasons to decouple, there's intense political pressures not to do so and related economic panic at having done so if you do. But I know little about pegged currencies in this context and am only going by what I can guess at. I welcome illumination or correction.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:43 PM on September 8


Hi Ivan (and perhaps Krugman, who you seem to be channeling) --

It could mean that under many conditions the BofE could completely undermine Holyrood fiscal policy in the event of recessions, and -- this is a pretty important part -- enough so that public opinion would blame Holyrood and leftist policies, not the BofE's monetary policy. That would be bad.

That's one possibility, but another is that BofE's monetary policy is neutral or accommodative, Holyrood's fiscal policy is superior to London's, and Holyrood gets credit for it. Why believe your scenario is more likely?

In general, isn't it worse to have little-to-no control over both fiscal and monetary policy (Scotland's current predicament) as opposed to having some control over fiscal policy (Scotland post-independence)?
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 3:13 AM on September 9


isn't it worse to have little-to-no control over both fiscal and monetary policy (Scotland's current predicament)

As opposed to the years 1997-2010, when two successive Chancellors of the Exchequer elected by Scottish voters had a great deal of control over both fiscal and monetary policy.
posted by rory at 7:48 AM on September 9


Hi Ivan (and perhaps Krugman, who you seem to be channeling)

To be fair, Ivan in fact explicitly cites Krugman above and describes why his thinking converges with Krugman's (there's a bit of a charge of uncited ventriloquism, unwarranted, in the way you phrased that).
posted by spitbull at 7:53 AM on September 9


Hi spitbull - I was trying to complement Ivan F. on anticipating Krugman, which I consider high praise.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 8:52 AM on September 9


OK, so - I know you're all arguing about the whole Pound issue now, but minor derail...

I'm a US citizen - Scots-Irish heritage & Northern Irish heritage on my dad's side; English/Welsh and Irish on my moms, trace backed to the big 1700s migration on my dad's side.

I think it's cool, but I don't get crazy with it (i.e. fife/drum, kilts or whatever)...

But I have to say - I'm very much pro-independence, primarily because I see the politics of Scotland as to the left of England/London, and the SNP appeals to me, though I know politics is the process of letting people down/betraying them.

That said, I have pondered, if this does happen, repatriating. Rather, I guess, a mild entertainment of the notion.

What is the view of people who want to "repatriate" (after 300+ years, lol)... I know SNP says they're pro-immigration but what about on the ground? What do the common folk think? And what sort of job opportunities are there?

I highly doubt it'll ever happen, but just to get a general feel of the overall mood in Scotland for immigrants (and I don't know if people returning after hundreds of years counts as repatriation or different from other forms of immigration). Any thoughts or ideas on immigration/repatriation would be greatly appreciated.

I just hope the No. Campaign continues to be completely oblivious and stupid with their strategies and Yes! finds a way to succeed.
posted by symbioid at 9:35 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I find it weird that some people are so desperate to keep Scotland

I'm from Yorkshire, and I despair over the idea of a YES victory, because the day the Scots leave is the day the north of England will be ejected into political outer space like a kid on a seesaw with a well spoken Tyrannosaurus.

I can hardly complain if they leave, but I wish they would take us with them.
posted by emilyw at 9:47 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


The Scottish population is declining, it needs more immigration than the rest of the UK does and the white paper proposes a skills based immigration policy, your ability to find work would be dependent on your skill set anyway. I expect there will also be extra points available for immigrants willing to settle in more rural areas. Scotland has good communication and transport links in place, as well as a thriving tourism industry and a strong energy sector, including what will hopefully be a rapidly expanding renewables energy industry post independence.
posted by IanMorr at 9:59 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Bearing in mind that I'm a complete outsider, Alex Massie had what I thought was a very good piece on the recent upsurge for Yes. He's a Scot and a unionist, but I thought to look up his column because I remembered him being fairly prescient about the potential strength of the yes campaign months and months ago. He really seems to grok the emotional appeal of independence. I mean, a-duh, why wouldn't he, but he writes very well about it.
posted by Diablevert at 10:13 AM on September 9


I'm from Yorkshire, and I despair over the idea of a YES victory, because the day the Scots leave is the day the north of England will be ejected into political outer space like a kid on a seesaw with a well spoken Tyrannosaurus.

I disagree. When Scotland leaves the North-South divide--the biggest issue in English politics--will come into sharper focus. Scotland, and to a lesser extent Wales and Northern Ireland, have provided diversions from this issue (though through no fault of their own). Once they are gone we will only have ourselves for company, and we won't be able to hide from the truth. The "economic North", that part of England falling behind the development of the south east, is much bigger by weight than Scotland and will learn to use that heft once it comes to understand its plight. The day will come when Westminster has to look the North in the face and not turn away because there are simply too many votes to lose.

Can you imagine all three main party leaders travelling to Manchester to offer a panicky love-bombing of the North? Not yet, not yet, but some day. And it's Northerners like you and me who have to make it happen.
posted by Thing at 10:57 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Krugman blogged a bit more about this today, and he includes this paragraph:
And an independent Scotland using the British pound would arguably be in even worse shape. Europe has somewhat stabilized recently thanks to Mario Draghi’s support for debtor countries — but Draghi is able to do this, in large part, because he is answerable to the whole euro area, not just Germany. An independent Scotland would be dependent on the kindness of the Bank of, um, England, with no say whatsoever in that bank’s policy.
This is spooky. :)

Actually, his subcultural background is very different from mine, but a long time back I noticed that we share an amazing number of sensibilities that you might not expect, ranging from his lifetime interest in science fiction to having contemporary pop music tastes that aren't what you'd expect from someone his age. I even corresponded with him a bit, back in the day when he wrote for Slate. I've got some of his books. I've been reading him almost daily for a very, very long time. So I suppose that, all considered, it's explicable that I'd write here almost exactly the same things that he writes elsewhere a day later.

It's still kind of spooky, though, in that he makes the same point I just made about the ECB versus the BoE and, especially, mentions like I did the significance of the name of the UK's central bank.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:06 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]




I can hardly complain if they leave, but I wish they would take us with them.
The trick would be to sneakily shift the border signs down to the M62 over night - the Southerners won't notice the difference.
posted by rongorongo at 12:11 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


The Guardian summary brings up something important: I don't think an independent Scotland would inherit the euro opt-out from the UK, so it would probably have to switch to the euro if it wanted to remain in the EU. Does Alex Salmond really think it's better to have his monetary policy crafted at Willy-Brandt-Platz?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:24 PM on September 9


I have to imagine Berwick would be looking to move the border signs south of the city.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:26 PM on September 9


From the Wee Blue Book, that I think was already linked above (click through for sources):

Q: “But won’t we have to join the Euro?”

A: No. EU member states CANNOT be forced to join the Euro. In order to do so, states must first join the ERM2 (“Exchange Rate Mechanism”) programme for a minimum of two years, and membership of ERM2 is entirely voluntary. All an EU member has to do to stay out of the Euro is not sign up for ERM2 [110].

The European Commission’s website notes that:

“Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden do not currently have a target date for adoption of the euro”.

In fact, Scotland couldn’t join the Euro even if it wanted to, as it doesn’t meet the qualifying criteria
posted by IanMorr at 1:32 PM on September 9


Since this thread is still open: Irvine Welsh on the Referendum
posted by yoHighness at 2:17 PM on September 9


That Wee Blue Book answer seems to assume that Scotland will automatically become a a member state, and it does so despite earlier claiming on the same page that no one knows for sure whether that would happen.
posted by Area Man at 2:24 PM on September 9


Yes, but joining the Euro is not a requirement of remaining in or joining the EU.
posted by IanMorr at 3:17 PM on September 9




It's just as well it fell down. What's Miliband thinking? The Saltire is the symbol of Yes*.

C'mon, Ed, this isn't rocket science: If you're pro-Union, there's a flag for that.

* among other Jon Anderson projects
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on September 9


God, Miliband's just hopeless, isn't he? That pedantic bit of boilerplate from the Birmingham county council just about sums everything up as well. Seems like they'll be happier to wait 10 days and just pencil a line through the bit in the official regulations about raising the saltire on St. Andrew's day than to shift themselves now to make an exception to their pettifogging rules for the sake of the symbolism. Can't shrug harder than that.
posted by Diablevert at 4:27 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


That Wee Blue Book answer seems to assume that Scotland will automatically become a a member state, and it does so despite earlier claiming on the same page that no one knows for sure whether that would happen.

I think the best argument as to why Scotland's membership would continue, is that the whole business of throwing a country out of the EU is something untried, colossally expensive and in the clear interests of nobody. Trading ties would be severed for importers and exporters, Scots living in the rest of the EU (including rUK?) would be sent home and non-Scottish residents of the rest of Europe would have to be turfed out too.
posted by rongorongo at 11:28 PM on September 9


Area Man: "That Wee Blue Book answer seems to assume that Scotland will automatically become a a member state, and it does so despite earlier claiming on the same page that no one knows for sure whether that would happen."

Here's the clearest and most convincing case I've seen from an EU grandee. More politicians like this fellow, please. He explains constitutional precedent in detail and using clear but technical language.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:37 AM on September 10


non-Scottish residents of the rest of Europe would have to be turfed out too.

If an independent Scotland did end up out of the EU for a while, rather than being a continuous member with no gaps, it would be free to introduce whatever rules it wanted about residency for EU citizens, and if it wanted to get back into the EU - and to start attracting more immigrants - it would make no sense at all to deport hundreds of thousands of EU citizens.

Scots living in the rest of the EU will still hold UK/EU passports until they expire, which if they renew them shortly before independence will last them ten years, or five for children. The main people at risk would be children born in Scotland after independence day but before Scottish accession to the EU (again, if there's a gap between these dates) whose parents wanted to move elsewhere in the EU during the gap.

It's the question of continuing with no gaps that people should be trying to assess, not whether Scotland would be barred indefinitely. I agree with Happy Dave that Pat Cox speaks sense on this - as elaborated here - but a lot hinges on his suggestion that "done thoroughly and expeditiously an internal enlargement could be negotiated during this interim period between the referendum and the independence of Scotland in 2016". If it doesn't turn out to be expeditious it's going to be an enormous spanner in the works, potentially delaying the timetable to independence until it gets sorted out.
posted by rory at 6:19 AM on September 10


Why this optimist is voting No. This one has put The Fear into this Yes voter.
posted by ukdanae at 8:12 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


ukdanae: "Why this optimist is voting No. This one has put The Fear into this Yes voter."

I'm seeing more and more of this sort of thing kicking about, and it's really getting my back up. There's always this vast, unstated assumption that a No vote is going to be a return to a comfortable status quo, but that's simply not true. This whole thing has (rightly and well overdue in my opinion) kicked the crap out of the lopsided devolution arrangements of the existing Union, to the point that we're now apparently being offered federalism-lite which actually worsens the lopsidedness.

The forces that have been gradually teasing apart Scotland from the rest of the UK will only be getting stronger and more unpleasant, with the additional bonus that we'll have taped a giant 'Kick Me' sign to our own backs by voting No. This lovebombing won't mean a damn thing and in all likelihood we'll be right back here in a decade, only poorer and angrier.

And I'm so, so, so tired of hearing that everything we do must appease the markets. The 'markets' are just people, a lot of bright people in nice suits who function on the Venn diagram of fear and greed, two shite things to use as a basis for good governance. Their job should be to efficiently move capital around to our general enrichment. They aren't some global police force of good governance and their de-facto position as disciplinarians for national governments is a textbook example of regulatory capture and our complete failure to reign in a system of finance which should be a tool for making our lives better, not an organising principle for absolutely everything.

I'm sick of it. Sick of hearing that we can't possibly do better. It's a lie and it is fear and it's turning otherwise reasonable, productive people into shivering wrecks to protect a squalling international finance system that doesn't want to lose one of it's playgrounds.

Dinnae be feart.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:17 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


Have you read all of it yet, Dave? Her points about optimism and pessimism are important, and are coming from the Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-Being. She's not, absolutely not, someone who says that "we can't possibly do better". That's not a fair representation of her position.
posted by rory at 9:27 AM on September 10


That wasn't the characterisation I made.

My argument is that this sort of statement is constantly being made from a position of risk analysis. She, and other less erudite commentators, continually assert that we can't know, so we shouldn't try.

But I personally consider it a greater risk to remain within the United Kingdom, where the levers of power have been co-opted to such an extent that meaningful change is nigh-on impossible, especially with the revolving door of parties which are becoming very, very hard to tell apart.

The UK is becoming a steadily less pleasant place to live. It will become more so if we vote No, because we will have held the chance to go another way in our hands and given it up, thus rubberstamping the continuation of the hollowing out of our social contract.

I will take rough seas. I'll take drastic change. If I lose my job because of currency fluctuations, I'll deal with it and I'll keep campaigning. Because I will be in a position to influence it.

If you're a left-of-centre voter who believes in actual social democracy (as opposed to what Labour are selling) in the modern UK, you're currently shit out of luck. There is no option within a continuing Union. It's broken.

What the Westminster parties have in common is that they don't actually see a problem. They've completely reframed the debate, so effectively that I've got died-in-the-wool lifelong Labour voters shaking their heads at me for even wanting to discuss things like social inequality and the rightward drift of the UK. They blithely assert that all I need to do is vote Labour and stand by my southern brethren and it will work out in the end.

That's the deluded optimism I see, not the realistic hope of having more influence in a country of five million where I've seen, with my own eyes, the emergence of a progressive and exciting generation of people who give a shit.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:55 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


What a strange article. She wants all the things Independence can and will deliver, then goes hunting for ways to scare herself into a no vote. Chief Exec of the Center for what?
posted by IanMorr at 9:55 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Moneyed interests?
posted by yoHighness at 11:09 AM on September 10


What a strange article. She wants all the things Independence can and will deliver, then goes hunting for ways to scare herself into a no vote. Chief Exec of the Center for what?

Of not very much to be honest, other than pocketing 420k in funding and attending various conferences - this august institute appears to have only one employee.

This has been one of the dynamics of the campaign - no produce a top down old media article and then you have it being debunked by yes supporters on social media.

No have pitched their campaign very well, a mixture of what Fanon would call "inferiorisation" and actual Thatcherism - the churches don't have the power they used to (and a very big part of the union used to be about keeping Britain protestant) so there's only the cult of consumerism and property ownership left - people are voting no because the mortgages might go up while claiming it's because they don't like Alex Salmond.

If No win, their campaign has been built on such a tissue of lies that the Labour party in Scotland (which is at the head of it) is very likely to be finished.

However, all the pollsters are unable to take account of the very large amount of new voter registrations and queues at the registration offices late into the night, also turnout will be poorer on the no side and is estimated at at least -2 points.

The polls that have yes ahead haven't even factored this in themselves - sticking with such things as only counting 16-24 year olds with landline telephones.

Scot goes pop ! is a very interesting blog on that subject.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:08 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Who's being cynical and negative now? Craig's centre does positive work with young Scots, teachers and parents. I don't know her personally, but I've heard good things about her from someone close to me who does. To dismiss her or her centre as being about "moneyed interests" is ridiculous. And she's hardly been "continually asserting" her No position when her article opens by saying that she's been keeping her head down until now.

Dave, when you posted this thread a couple of weeks ago I had a look at your blog, and thought to myself that here was a reasonable Yes voice I could engage with, as opposed to some of the unreasonable ones we all know are out there on both sides. I still think that. But you've complained that "this sort of statement is constantly being made from a position of risk analysis" and then responded with exactly the same thing, a risk analysis of your own. It isn't fair to suggest that No voters are afraid because their risk analysis is different from yours, any more than it would be if they said that you're "afraid" of a possible future you would rather not see happen. Nobody's calling the Yes campaign Project Fear of the Tories.

Saying there's "no option within a continuing Union" is just as much a statement about a possible future as any, not an absolute truth. And saying "the UK is becoming a steadily less pleasant place to live" just depends on what timeframe you select and what aspects you concentrate on. When I first visited the UK in 1985, half the buildings in the country were still black from a century of smog and soot, the air was full of leaded petrol fumes and cigarette smoke, the food choices were limited, there were only four channels on TV, nobody had the Internet, crime was rising, you had to pay to visit public museums and galleries, Thatcher was riding high, the prospect of a Labour government looked impossibly distant, racial and LGBT minorities were having a hard time of it, Northern Ireland was a battlezone, the IRA was bombing the UK mainland, anything to do with Europe was interpreted through the lens of a world war that had finished only forty years earlier, and everybody still thought they could die any minute because the West hadn't quite realised that Gorbachev was serious about glasnost and perestroika. Scotland still had a fully functioning nuclear bunker to house its civil servants in the case of nuclear war, a hundred miles away from where I sit, and it sure didn't have a Scottish Government or anything like it. On every single one of those measures, the UK has become a steadily more pleasant place to live (assuming you think Thatcher = bad and Labour = better, otherwise it's every one of those measures except those two).

I just don't buy that Scotland has some special insight into how to govern well that somehow escapes the rest of the UK. We had the chance in the UK to ditch first-past-the-post in Westminster elections, and Scotland voted against it at almost the same rates as England. We went to war in Iraq, and in a 2007 BBC poll that decision was supported by a higher proportion of Scottish respondents than any region of England apart from Yorkshire, over twice as high as London. You talk about lies and fear, but how about those Yes claims of the NHS being at risk from the Tories? Control over NHS Scotland is already devolved; it will only be privatised if our MSPs sell it.

When I moved here it was only two years after devolution, and I thought then that it was only halfway to where Britain needed to end up, which was a properly federal arrangement. But I also saw it as a positive step along the way; reaching that federal destination would need the UK to get over any hang-ups about it being a system for Americans, Australians and Germans, and devolution could help. In the meantime, Scottish voters have had more control over more levels of government than anyone in England. I can vote in council elections, Scottish parliament elections, UK general elections and EU parliament elections, having my say each time as part of polities with underlying populations of half a million, five million, sixty million and three hundred million. Having input into four levels of government is extraordinary! In my federal homeland I only ever had a say in two or three - council, state and federal elections in my home state, or territory and federal elections when I lived in Canberra - and the biggest of those was only ever for a national population of twenty million.

So I just have a different assessment of democratic risk to you, even though it sounds as if we're on a similar wavelength in terms of our general political leanings. That doesn't mean that I think Westminster is perfect, or that the UK will be the same post-No as it was before this all started. But it does mean that the tipping points for my own risk assessment lie elsewhere. In my blog post I talked about the cultural aspects that tie into my own identity - that I like being part of the country that has produced so much of the English-speaking cultural landscape - which would no longer be true if Yes wins; and about how I personally have no prospective boost in Scots identity to compensate for that. But I've also weighed up the talking points about the EU and finance and environment and so on, as all of us must, and have ended up at a different position. Fundamentally, I don't want to live in a small country dependent on the fate of oil; that's less attractive to me than living in a big country that has a relatively lower dependence on it per head of population. I haven't particularly enjoyed watching my home country become increasingly dependent on coal exports this century, either. It feels like being dragged to the roulette table and asked to bet everything on black.

I believe your comment about being willing to take rough seas, and to deal with losing your job if that's what it takes. When I was 32, I quit a safe job for the unknown, because my wife and I weren't happy with where we were, and we had a year of casual work and unemployment and burning through our savings before we ended up here. I could face that when I was 32 and childless.

But we don't have any savings now. It's all tied up in a mortgage on a flat in the middle of Edinburgh, paid for by work that has been vulnerable enough in recent years that I wouldn't want it to be any more vulnerable. If I lose my job in my late 40s, dealing with it could mean having to sell up and move to another country, because my wife and I have no extended family support network here and two young children depending on us. I'm not afraid of doing that, if it comes to it, but I don't want to increase the odds of it happening. I know that's a risk assessment, but it's my responsibility to my family to make one, and to act on it as best I can.
posted by rory at 2:51 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I'm really curious and excited to know what happens. I have no idea if he's any representative, because he's lived in the US for 50 years, but I find my dad's take interesting and maybe explains the polling a little?

He’s in his 70s, lives in the US but grew up in the Borders and then Edinburgh, still not particularly assimilated to US culture. He's definitely on the left politically, parents were socialists, but he is not identified as an activist in any way and is perhaps a bit of a timid personality. In any case, if I remember right from when we talked about this, he thinks independence is theoretically the right thing, but unrealistic. He wouldn't vote for it (if he was still voting there).

I get the sense there might be a certain amount of inertia, especially from older people, that would have to be overcome to believe this could work out even for people who would say that in an ideal world Scotland should be independent. So I wonder if there is an accurate sense that the majority supports the idea, even while at the same time the majority might not actually vote for it?
posted by latkes at 3:23 PM on September 10


This has been one of the dynamics of the campaign - no produce a top down old media article and then you have it being debunked by yes supporters on social media.

Top-down old media article? It's pretty obvious at first glance that Scottish Review is small-scale new media, and sure enough, it describes itself on its Twitter feed as "Scotland's online current affairs magazine", and is supported by subscribers rather than advertising.

If you want to talk about old media, let's talk about how Rupert Murdoch has been hinting that the Scottish Sun will come out for Yes. Flee, everybody, while you still can.
posted by rory at 3:33 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]




I must admit I'm sceptical of Scotland's ability to resist the very powerful influences that will come to bear on them to fall into line and go for the same small state, lower-top-rate-taxes, austerity and privatisation agenda as everyone else. It's not that I wouldn't want to see them try to offer a left wing alternative, and I'd very much like them to succeed. But I think they might have underestimated the pressure that will come to bear on them to conform to neo-liberal principles. In a way, being tucked away as a part of the UK might have allowed them more freedom in that department.

That's not intended as an argument of any kind, by the way, just me expressing that I've got a bad feeling about this, which I realise (as not only an Englishman, but a Londoner, one step down morally from serial killers and people who interfere sexually with farmyard animals) is of no relevance at all. I think we should all be proper social-democratic states, with healthcare and education and all that paid out of sensible taxation, as God and nature intended. It's just that the world seems to be run by insane Skeksis, intent on hitting anyone who disagrees with them with big hammers until they either obey or die.
posted by Grangousier at 4:59 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]




1) The Private has more or less been ploughing that furrow for a long time so it's not news.
2) How much of that act applies to Scotland?
posted by Thing at 5:48 AM on September 11


rory, Yes's claims about the NHS are not fear and lies. While it is true that NHS Scotland is a devolved power, the funding comes through the Barnett formula. The Barnett formula is based on public expenditure in the rest of the UK, which drops as more and more parts of NHS England are privatized. Furthermore, a devolved Scotland cannot opt out of TTIP, so as part of the UK the Scottish NHS will be forced to open up to private companies.

Here's The Lancet on the subject today
posted by IanMorr at 6:43 AM on September 11


TTIP is an EU agreement. Scotland can only opt out if it leaves the UK and refuses to join the EU. Is that the plan?
posted by Thing at 7:22 AM on September 11


No. Under TTIP, health services in Europe are only open to competition where privatization is established. Where there is a state monopoly, such as there would be in Indy Scotland TTIP won't apply.
posted by IanMorr at 7:29 AM on September 11


So we should help the rUK save it. We'll find plenty of allies at the next UK general election, with the NHS at stake. Being part of saving the entire NHS would be a greater accomplishment than being able to say we saved our 10% of it.

Think of what a huge and important counterexample the NHS is to the healthcare mess in the US. An equivalent 1/10th the size won't carry anything like that weight.
posted by rory at 7:44 AM on September 11


And if the rUK votes Tory again? It's gone at that point, and it's never coming back. Latest polling shows a either a dead heat between ConDem vs. Lab, or even a slight ConDem lead. Con/UKIP alliance has even larger lead. Our 5 million votes don't influence that fight.
posted by IanMorr at 8:27 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


RBS to flee Edinburgh for London if Yes win.

The market's jitters about independence have already been established, but I wonder if this will have the power to sway undecideds at this late date. Presuming there are any left, of course.
posted by Diablevert at 9:09 AM on September 11


RBS will not 'flee' Edinburgh. They'll re-domicile their HQ in London. It's a technical procedure. No operations or jobs will move. RBS Internal memo sent to staff this morning.
posted by IanMorr at 9:27 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Last year when I was in Barcelona, there was a lot of interest in the Scottish referendum as a test case for their own (Catalan) referendum sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Scotland independence referendum: the view from Catalonia. Catalans campaigning for their own independence vote are inspired by what they see in Scotland - no matter which way the vote goes on 19 September
posted by homunculus at 11:11 AM on September 11




And if the rUK votes Tory again? It's gone at that point, and it's never coming back. Latest polling shows a either a dead heat between ConDem vs. Lab, or even a slight ConDem lead. Con/UKIP alliance has even larger lead. Our 5 million votes don't influence that fight.

Polling of voting intention, or of seats? In 2010 the vote was split on the left by the Lib Dems. In 2015 it will be split on the right by UKIP and whatever remains of the Lib Dems. In a four-way race under first-past-the-post between Labour and three right-leaning parties, Labour is more likely to win, not less. If it's close, though, our five million votes and 59 seats will make all the difference. A single seat can make the difference.

Do you really think we can't fight a Tory government that doesn't even hold power in its own right on this most important of all battlegrounds and win? If the UK left lose that battle because we've gone, when our votes could have made the difference, then we can forget all the "we'll get along better when we're independent equals, it will be good for the rUK too" stuff. The sense of bitterness will be extreme.
posted by rory at 3:14 PM on September 11


I like how quickly this has gone from "LIES" to the old "You can't leave I'm pregnant" trick.
posted by yoHighness at 5:15 PM on September 11


Link
posted by yoHighness at 5:45 PM on September 11


Andrew Sullivan posted an interesting email from a reader on the meaning of Britishness.
posted by Diablevert at 6:31 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]






Thanks, yoHighness, for lumping me in with rUK when I've pointed out that I'm a Scottish resident voting next Thursday, a social democrat, environmentalist, generally left person who is looking for a reason to vote Yes that doesn't really on nationalist feeling and so far not finding it, but is reading everything he can get his hands on and actually talking with the other side. IanMoss's point about the Barnett formula implications hadn't quite clicked with me before, and is one thing that's given me pause. I would point out that TTIP isn't a done deal yet and is facing a lot of opposition. But I firmly believe that the Tories are going to lose in 2015 whatever happens next Thursday, and Labour aren't about to see their finest creation destroyed on their watch, even if undoing the damage done by the coalition is difficult. Also, a fat lot of good an NHS Scotland will do me if other effects of the transition to independence force me to look for work elsewhere. I'm not saying "you" can't leave, I'm trying to avoid having to leave myself.
posted by rory at 3:05 AM on September 12


I'm not expecting any dedicated Yes voter to be persuaded to vote no by anything I say. But given that the vote is looking extremely tight and you're trying to overtake a longstanding No lead in the polls, I would have thought you would want to engage with No voters with more than a gif on Facebook. I follow Yes voters on Twitter, I've already seen plenty of those.
posted by rory at 3:18 AM on September 12


Sorry, should have been "rely on" up there, not "really on". Stupid iPhone autocorrect.
posted by rory at 3:30 AM on September 12


So far I've only met No voters whose motivations are fear-based around a status quo which currently favours them.* It's not that I don't understand it as a normal motivation. However rory I see the precariousness you've described as a result of Westminster policy combined with City banker greed and can't quite make sense of why you wish to let these people keep going.

*Already forgot which of the Scottish comedians said this yesterday, "On 19 September half of the Scottish population will have their dreams crushed. .. Business as usual"
posted by yoHighness at 3:35 AM on September 12


Having said that probably best not too hope for too much change should there actually be a YES vote... it'll just be like a certain campaign once ago in a different country which promised "CHANGE" and then um not that much changed.
posted by yoHighness at 3:39 AM on September 12


First off, saying "No" voters are all about fear and "Yes" voters are all about hope is only half the story.

Plenty of Yes voters are voting because they are afraid of what will happen if Scotland does stay in the UK -- fears of NHS getting dismantled or the UK pulling out of the EU. Plenty of No voters are hopeful that if they do stay in the UK, they can help effect change on a much larger scale than they could in an independent Scotland -- halting and reversing the effects of austerity and privatization in the UK as a whole.

But you know what? I also, in general, don't like the positioning as "Hope" being an essentially better and more noble reason for voting than "Fear". Hope is a great reason to vote if, by voting, you help make wonderful things happen. But fear is ALSO a great reason to vote if, by voting, you help prevent some truly terrible things from occurring. Both are perfectly reasonable motivations for casting a vote, depending on the situation.

From what I have seen, a lot of No voters don't believe that Scottish independence is going to result in wonderful changes, so why would they vote as if they did? Some see the SNP as a center left party not terribly different from Labour, and also don't believe it will stay unchallenged from the right for long. Some are uncomfortable relying on oil money that's going to run out at some unknown time. Some are looking at the numbers and proposals and don't see how they all add up, and aren't getting any answers.

From my own point of view (not that I can vote, so not that it matters much), the Yes campaign has presented an unconvincing case as to why things would be better in an independent Scotland. And I'm a socialist lefty with no stake in the idea that the UK "should" stay together just because. There are plenty of things they could have made clear without a need to negotiate the terms beforehand. Show me a budget -- in an independent Scotland, here's the tax rate, here's what goes to what, here's how it all works out. Instead of dismissing fears of real things that could happen, tell me the plans and implications if Spain blocks Scotland's entrance into the EU for a decade, if the oil reserves are lower than estimated, if England does set up a nonporous border as a result of the proposed differences in immigration policy.

Instead, I've heard a lot of "Don't worry, they're just bluffing", "Don't worry, they're lying", "It will be so because we want it to be so", and "We are very supportive of the concern you bring up, not that we're going to make any promises or explain what we plan to do about it".

So when I make the mental calculus, it isn't "my partner might lose her job and we might have to move if independence goes through, but it could be OK and lift thousands out of poverty." It's "my partner might lose her job and we might have to move if independence goes through, but I honestly believe things will be worse for everyone in the short run, and in the long run it won't make much difference."
posted by kyrademon at 5:16 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan posted an interesting email from a reader on the meaning of Britishness.

The problem lies with claiming of Englishness, Scottishness, Welshness, or Irishness, as an ethnic identity. Scotland has moved beyond that to a civic identity and the other countries can too, in time. There's nothing special about British identity that it needs to be preserved or hold the four countries back from finding a future beyond the UK.
posted by Thing at 5:27 AM on September 12


yoHighness: "Having said that probably best not too hope for too much change should there actually be a YES vote... it'll just be like a certain campaign once ago in a different country which promised "CHANGE" and then um not that much changed."

I would point out that Scotland seems to be politically left of the UK as a whole, so would not face the problem of a strong hardcore rightwing in the same way Obama did. That, combined with defects of the US governmental systems which are not present in a parliamentary setup, combined to hamstring him.

Not saying that he was ever the leftist messiah many were hoping for, but if he'd done 15% of what those people wanted, he would have been impeached.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:34 AM on September 12


For all the talk about No voters only being motivated by fear, 53% of the No supporters in the recent Guardian/ICM poll gave "Feelings about the UK" as a reason why they were backing staying in the UK.

Are MeFites in Scotland hearing any pro-UK sentiment from No supporters they know?
posted by Area Man at 7:08 AM on September 12


So far I've only met No voters whose motivations are fear-based around a status quo which currently favours them.

I tried to address the fear issue a few comments up, and kyrademon has now done a better job of it, but on "status quo which currently favours them": sure, if "favours" means "keeps me in a job which allows me to support my family", then the status quo favours me, or if it means "makes life bearable as an immigrant", then it does. In that personal blog post I linked when I first commented here, which I didn't want to dump in the thread because it's too long, I tried to indicate that my personal concerns on each count may not just be personal, but may speak to a wider unease in my sector and among other non-Scot residents, which could indicate problems ahead for an independent Scotland.

There are good reasons to be concerned about what will happen to universities in the years immediately following independence, given how dependent we are on student intakes that vary from year to year; my concerns are informed by 13 years of working in a Scottish university, so I've seen the disruptive effect of lesser changes than independence would entail. As an individual, I can find work elsewhere if need be, but if too many of my colleagues are forced to do the same then dozens of universities, some of them the oldest and most well-regarded in Britain (maybe especially those), are screwed.

As an immigrant of thirteen years' standing, I don't actually buy Thing's claim that "Scotland has moved beyond [Scottishness as an ethnic identity] to a civic identity". There's evidence that it's further ahead in this regard than Englishness, but there's a long way to go. The civic identity I feel is that of being a UK citizen, because it doesn't actually mean anything in ethnic terms, it's a catch-all. No Scot that I know would call me "Scottish" just because I've lived here for thirteen years. My son, who was born here, has had school friends tell him he isn't Scottish just because he's innocently said something in class about his family being from Australia. If we become independent then "Scottishness" might one day come to mean something more than ethnic Scots, but it's going to take years and years. I'm from a country where 25% of the population were born elsewhere, which has been wrestling with issues of national identity for over a century, and I've also spent a fair few years studying the after-effects of independence in former colonies. From that experience, I don't buy that in a country where 84% of the population is Scottish-born, 9% is rUK and 7% is Other (stats from here and the ONS), it's all going to be smooth sailing after independence, no matter how miraculous it was that it was won peacefully at the ballot box. Not when there are numpties like this out there.

I see the precariousness you've described as a result of Westminster policy combined with City banker greed and can't quite make sense of why you wish to let these people keep going

I can drive to the headquarters of RBS in half an hour - how are bankers not going to exercise any influence in an independent Scotland? Unless they leave, which we had all better hope that they don't.

Fifty-nine of those 650 MPs at Westminster are Scotland's - are they all "these people"? If not, which of those people are "these people"? What if they end up in Holyrood, and our "these people" become just "our people"? Show me a parliament or congress anywhere whose members aren't viewed with disdain by its people. (Not by me, though, at least not in the "all politicians are bastards" sense. I'm a political scientist; I view politicians as people doing what they think their voters want, if not now then by the time of the next election. Sometimes they get the calculation wrong, or the world interferes with their plans. That doesn't make All MPs Forever a lost cause.)
posted by rory at 7:18 AM on September 12


Bruce Ogilvie is a tit. A pretty isolated one too. I'm not diminishing your immigrant experience, but every country has got wankers like him. I don't think Scotland is near the top of the table on that front.

On the NHS - Even if Labour does get in, loads of the buggers have had their hands out for cash from the privatization industry too. Alastair Darling himself is on that list. The whole process started under the last Labour government. The rUK has lurched too far to the right and Labour have gone along with them. They are no longer the working man's party my father supported all his life. I don't trust them to stop the process. On past evidence they'll through their hands up, blame the Tories and claim they can't undo it now because it's too late.

I do hear pro-UK sentiment from my friends who are No supporters and it comes from two distinct groups of friends. There are those who aren't that interested in day to day politics and have a rosy view of the UK as a force for good in the world. They've done fine in it so far and don't believe anything will change for the worse in the next few years. There are also those who've done a lot of travelling, usually have trod the well worn path from Scotland to London, maybe lived abroad for a while and feel like their citizenship of the UK made all that easier.
posted by IanMorr at 7:37 AM on September 12


I'm kind of amazed that the polling is consistently showing 16-24's voting No. ICM say they've reached close to the right number to avoid lots of weighting, but it intuitively feels wrong to me.
posted by IanMorr at 7:42 AM on September 12


I'm kind of amazed that the polling is consistently showing 16-24's voting No. ICM say they've reached close to the right number to avoid lots of weighting, but it intuitively feels wrong to me.

There seems to be some contention that the Ipsos Mori polls, at least, were using landlines as a contact method. Perhaps not the best way to reach 16-24s. - the ICM poll today says that they used a "random sample of phone numbers from BT's database" - unclear whether this included mobiles.
posted by rongorongo at 8:48 AM on September 12


rory and IanMorr, a lot of the same points about Labour in the Irvine Welsh article I posted above. This really is starting to feel a bit like old VS young, old media VS social media.

how are bankers not going to exercise any influence in an independent Scotland

Just like with the MPs: They'll continue being bastards, but they'll be our bastards. It is easier to hold people accountable if they're up here rather than down there. It helps if it is a small country, fewer degrees of seperation.

I've also been through the cuts whilst working at an elite university, it was a bad time. Nautical metaphors were used which is when you know it's a rough spot. But it was hardly anything really serious if you actually looked at the general audit. When you look at the scope I'm really quite bemused anyone would assume those century old universities ever do anything in a crisis but slightly wobble. rory, I am sure you didn't just only have that one year of experience 13 times over (; but the weasel-wordy "there are" good reasons that you didn't mention better be good before I believe institutions which have survived continuously since the 15th century are in any real danger from Independence. Your field specifically may have been heavily affected by intake numbers from year to year but your place is a leaf on a giant tree of an org diagram. All that tree ever does in a storm is, it slighly wobbles.

Now, student fees only make up 24% of the income of Scottish universities ("Income and Expenditure of Scotland's Universities"). But to see the kind of wealth these old old universities have, maybe take a look at St. Andrews financial report 2013 or maybe remind yourself how Edinburgh University owns half of the old town as just one of its 4 campuses.

It would be nice, but the Chinese factory owners probably won't stop sending their kids for the knowledge transfer, neither will the people who actually own and run the UK stop sending their kids to make the connections to bring that web of power into the next generation. The Coca Cola sponsorship for a handful of students from poor countries in exchange for a bit of PR, it's hard to argue with them. All the STEM research benefiting the military industrial complex won't stop. Unless some IRN BRU zombie apocalypse happens like in that one movie, it'll always be a Disneyland type contained protected bubble for kids and academics.
posted by yoHighness at 9:00 AM on September 12


Today's eighteen-year-olds were five when 9/11 happened and twelve when the credit crunch hit. They've had to deal with a lot of uncertainty.

Bruce Ogilvie is a tit. A pretty isolated one too. I'm not diminishing your immigrant experience, but every country has got wankers like him. I don't think Scotland is near the top of the table on that front.

Sure, I know that. I've spent some of my time on Mefi defending the reputation of modern Australia from comparable tits. But I can't deny that they make life less pleasant for immigrants there. What I'm concerned about isn't how Scotland is now, but how it might be once the bugbear of Westminster is gone. Some people will look around for a new one.
posted by rory at 9:09 AM on September 12


kyrademon in my view the YES campaign also shot themselves in the foot with blue sky financial promises. And I can't stand it myself if I get wishy washy answers to good detail questions like the ones you mention. Yes the campaigners suck ( congrats for having made it to Scotland now btw which it sounds like ;) But isn't the detail actually available ?
posted by yoHighness at 9:12 AM on September 12


rory there's racists and crazy people everywhere. But having lived both in England and Scotland the latter was an order of magniture more welcoming to foreigners. Wait a minute, so you're a white guy and actually worried about what from your (mostly also white) neighbours when they're independent? Slurs? Your CV getting demoted? a Balkan style pogrom against you? That's as crazy as the Scottish guy who told me he ran a controlled experiment in the 80's of submitting CV's with English and Scottish names and that he had his files confiscated under the Official Secrets Act.
posted by yoHighness at 9:21 AM on September 12


In conclusion, Scotland is a land of contrasts.
posted by yoHighness at 9:25 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Dude, we're having a civil discussion here. Other people's experiences and concerns are as valid as yours and just 'cos you disagree with them or don't understand how they have come by them, let's not go around suggesting they're crazy. That sort of thing will derail what has been an interesting conversation in a hurry.
posted by IanMorr at 9:34 AM on September 12


the weasel-wordy "there are" good reasons that you didn't mention better be good before I believe institutions which have survived continuously since the 15th century are in any real danger from Independence. Your field specifically may have been heavily affected by intake numbers from year to year but your place is a leaf on a giant tree of an org diagram. All that tree ever does in a storm is, it slighly wobbles.

Fair enough, I was being overly dramatic with the word "screwed" - I don't envisage that Edinburgh or St Andrews will shut up shop. And yes, my place is but a leaf on a giant org chart. But it's my leaf, and my whole branch has been shaking for five years; I've seen several colleagues made redundant or let go in subtler ways because of the vagaries of government funding in my field, and the wobbly tree has barely noticed.

the Chinese factory owners probably won't stop sending their kids for the knowledge transfer

Overreliance on Chinese students, or on students from any one country, is risky in itself.

neither will the people who actually own and run the UK stop sending their kids to make the connections to bring that web of power into the next generation

Leaving aside that the map of the UK's web of power will be redrawn if Scotland is no longer in the UK, I'm not, as far as my little branch and its rUK students are concerned, talking about the rich kids of rich people. They're middle-class people making careful choices with their own money, or with student loans that won't be available to them if Scotland becomes a separate country and they choose to study here.
posted by rory at 9:44 AM on September 12


Dude, we're having a civil discussion here.

Thanks, Ian.

yoHighness, I'm not going to dump 13 years of emotional history on you by way of evidence, but suffice to say that in my experience "you'll have had your tea" is real (and I know that's just my city, but that's where I live), and unpleasant encounters with random members of the public wear you down over time, whatever colour your skin is. Also, when you're part of an immigrant couple, the effect is magnified because you accumulate the emotional impact of each other's experiences as well as your own. It's hard to have to keep reminding yourself that there are unpleasant people everywhere, and that you'd bump into just as many back at home, when here the unpleasantness comes in its own special "reminder of Otherness" package.

But yes, I'm probably crazy.
posted by rory at 10:04 AM on September 12




Sorry guys. rory I do acknowledge your experience as valid. I did surprise myself here by getting into it more than I expected and starting to call people crazy. If all the independence debate was at the civilised level of metafilter I think I'd take part much more so please carry on. Civilised discussion is definitely more important to me than the way the vote goes.
posted by yoHighness at 11:22 AM on September 12


Rory just so I don't lose track of the conversation, Google tells me that the "you'll have had your tea" thing is a reference to anti-immigrant sentiment based on the perception that immigrants are scrounging for public benefits, itself based on some Edinburgh idiom about discouraging scroungers who always seem to turn up around teatime? Am I following that right?
posted by Wretch729 at 11:23 AM on September 12


In the context rory was using it, yes. But "You'll have had your tea?" is used at the expense of folk from Edinburgh by people throughout Scotland too. Basically, they're stereotyped as an unwelcoming shower of prim conservatives who don't want to invite the visitor in for tea and biscuits in case they chip the good china and get crumbs on the carpet.
posted by IanMorr at 12:18 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Got it, thank you.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:34 PM on September 12


Wretch729, it's the Edinburgh idiom I meant, but in a subtler way, which may help explain that wider application. A city that takes the idea of "discouraging scroungers who turn up at teatime" and elevates it to the level of idiom has a different character from one that welcomes strangers with open arms and buys them a drink. So "you'll have had your tea" also refers to Edinburgh's (or at least middle-class Edinburgh's) aloofness and stand-offishness, particularly when compared with Glasgow. It takes a long time for Edinburgh people - as in from Edinburgh - to invite you into their homes and lives, at least in my experience. It was a long time - years - before I could say I had a good friend here who was from Edinburgh, as opposed to Glasgow, Fife, England, or beyond. It's lucky for me the place has plenty of the latter, or I wouldn't have lasted long enough to get to know anyone from the city itself.

On preview: what Ian said.

Frankie Boyle had a good line on TV the other night, contrasting middle-class Edinburgh with working-class Glasgow. Middle-class Edinburgh is civil, but not friendly, while working-class Glasgow is friendly, but not civil.
posted by rory at 12:35 PM on September 12


yoHighness, I'm sorry I lost it for a moment there too, but your comment had me thinking I probably am crazy at the moment, for reasons which aren't entirely related to the referendum but aren't entirely unrelated. I'll try to elaborate, if I can think of a useful way to talk about them that isn't special-snowflake stuff.
posted by rory at 12:55 PM on September 12


No, look, I can't. It doesn't matter.
posted by rory at 1:21 PM on September 12


its all good and sorry again for getting carried away.
posted by yoHighness at 2:31 PM on September 12


Basically, the city of Edinburgh originated around a fortified castle; outsiders are treated with suspicion. And Glasgow originated around a river where trade with the rest of the world is welcomed. In fact a considerable strength in both cities is derived from their rivalry with each other. But both cities, and Scotland in general, always seemed more parochial to me -particularly outwith those main cities (I was born in Scotland and live here now, but have also lived in London, France and the US). And the SNP seemed to embody that parochialism. That seems to be changing now though. I live in Edinburgh' port of Leith and the voices of the passers by are almost as likely to be speaking Spanish, Polish, French or Urdu as they are English. The city's airport, which once only connected to London and Scottish destinations, can now take me to dozens of countries -and it brings visitors and immigrants from those destinations. And these days it seems like it is Scotland who is reaching out to Europe and the rest of the world while England is looking to become more insular (albeit from a much more cosmopolitan starting point).
posted by rongorongo at 3:35 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]




This photo from Tony Williams today shows Buchanan Street like I've never seen it.
posted by scruss at 3:11 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


New thread.
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on September 14


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