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Wings Over Scotland

How to win independence with one picture

Posted on May 24, 2012 by

The official launch of the Yes campaign for the independence referendum takes place tomorrow. We imagine it’ll be a substantial and considered affair. But what it will amount to over the next two years is nothing more and nothing less than the image below. Obviously we can’t do art for toffee, but you get the general idea.

We’ve gone on at some length on this blog (and elsewhere) about how the referendum isn’t for deciding whether Scotland is a republic or a monarchy, whether we’re in or out of NATO/the EU, whether we use the Euro or the Pound or something else entirely, how many ships we need in our navy, which taxes we’ll raise and/or cut, or any of the rest of it. The purpose of the referendum is to decide one thing and one thing only: who elects the future governments of Scotland.

The five counties of South-East England (Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Essex and Greater London) are home to just under 14 million people, compared to the fractionally over 5 million of Scotland. Even if we take Greater London out of the equation, the other four still add up to a population a million higher than Scotland’s.

Those four counties voted so overwhelmingly Conservative in the 2010 general election that they returned 62 Tory MPs from 66 seats – enough Tories alone to outvote the entire bloc of Scottish MPs of all parties (which will soon be even smaller, falling from 59 to just 52). Greater London, despite its large concentration of extremely poor urban areas, still returned another 28 Tories, along with 38 Labour and 7 Lib Dems.

So in the South-East as a whole, even including the huge relative Labour stronghold of London, that’s 90 Tories to 38 Labour, plus 11 others – an overwhelming majority of almost two to one even if you count everyone else as anti-Tory. (If you count the Lib Dems alongside their coalition partners, it’s an even more terrifying 100 to 39.)

But really, the picture tells the story for itself. A small, overwhelmingly Tory corner of England vastly outmuscles the whole of Scotland when it comes to deciding the UK government. (The dark shaded area supplies almost a quarter of all the MPs in the Commons.) We can either face the reality that we get whatever government Kent and Sussex and Essex and Surrey want, or we can choose our own. However much the desperate Unionists try to muddy the waters, it really is as simple as that.

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43 to “How to win independence with one picture”

  1. redcliffe62 says:

    Breaking it down to the M25 area compared to Scotland is a good idea, as many people in the North of England are in sympathy with Scottish views and wish they could do the same.
    We must not make it anti English but anti Westminster, as they are not the same thing. 
    Enlarging it to say new rail link paid by Scots as well tick, new sewerage paid by Scots as well tick, new road systems paid by Scots as well tick.
    And of course the willy waving Olympics paid by Scots as well tick, (including lottery money.)

  2. Janos says:

    The militirisation of a sporting event is the other thing that’s coming out of our taxpayer’s money. Even Ancient Greece stopped fighting wars during the games =/.

  3. Janos says:

    Also, is it okay to link to that image for the purposes of having it become more widely spread?  It’s just it’s a lot more eyecatching that just a link to a URL.

  4. Al Ghaf says:

    Very nice, straight to the point.

    Inshallah one day, with a more Scotland centric perspective we have Shetland back where it belongs on the map.

  5. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Spot on, young man, you deserve a prize.
    That is why the most heavily subsidised area of the UK is the South East.
    That is why the Olympics, Millenium celebrations, etc are all there.
    That is why all the off books hidden subsidies, including National Grid entry charges, favour the South East. Crossrail, M25, new sewage infrastructure, rail subsidies, even military HQ’s (OK to the West a bit but close enough for the Heid Bummers and their minions can be based in London)
    Enlarge it a bit to encompass Hampshire and Oxfordshire and you have near enough the  working majority for the Tories.
    Maggie Thatcher sussed that out and ditched Scotland. Tony Blair sussed that out and ditched Socialism.

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Just read the comments on your CalMerc piece.

    That Alex Gallagher/Braveheart character. He’s either the thickest person going around, or he’s an evil genius. I can’t figure out which. 

  7. Longshanker says:

    However much the desperate Unionists try to muddy the waters, it really is as simple as that.

    The waters appear to be getting just as muddied from the Independence side as far as I can (or cannot) see. Mr Salmond’s going to find it hard to keep control of his party unless the leadership come clean on a few basic fundamental SNP principles.
    Mr Salmond’s already beginning to look very Blairite judging by the core SNP principles being prepared to be dropped in the name of ‘pragmatism’.
    Maybe convincing floating voters, or substantial numbers of his own troops for that matter, isn’t as ‘simple as that’ at all.
    Pseudo-political binary comment such as this piece doesn’t take much account of the sentiments and beliefs of ordinary voters on the ground I’m afraid. Living life on the internet does tend to produce polarised and skewed beliefs in certain people. You have my sympathy.

  8. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Also, is it okay to link to that image for the purposes of having it become more widely spread? It’s just it’s a lot more eyecatching that just a link to a URL.”

    Sure. Although a link to the piece alongside it would be the nice thing to do.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “judging by the core SNP principles being prepared to be dropped in the name of ‘pragmatism’”

    Feel free to list those.

  10. Doug Daniel says:

    Longshanker, the SNP’s core principle is “independence”. The day they abandon that in the way Labour abandoned socialism is the day you can accuse Salmond of looking “Blairite”.

  11. Morag says:

    59 MPs?  Not after 2015.

  12. Arbroath1320 says:

    Mr Salmond’s already beginning to look very Blairite judging by the core SNP principles being prepared to be dropped in the name of ‘pragmatism’.
    You mean the S.N.P. are dropping their core reason detre of Independence?
    How are all expected to carry on living after hearing this bombshell?
    Whatever next?
    Don’t tell me they are joining forces with Johann Lamont’s rent a mob, that would really be too much. 😀


  13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “59 MPs?  Not after 2015.”

    Funnily enough I edited something about that in a couple of hours before you posted the comment. But the referendum will be held before the boundary rearrangement so the picture is still accurate.

  14. Longshanker, well,Independence is not just the SNP,although it is the biggest boat and thus takes a lot of voters.This is for independence and is not a party thing like the unionist media would have you believe,but then again how much can anybody believe from Westminster,and their propaganda unit,the Fleet Street Mafia.
    Independence is the goal any political party aiming for independence will get votes,but the referendum is not about party politics its about the nation of Scotland,and if we can have ,now, a democratic vote.

  15. Longshanker says:

    @Doug Daniel
    Longshanker, the SNP’s core principle is “independence”.

    Not disputing that for a minute Doug.
    But that in itself won’t win the referendum. Independence, if it’s to be voted for, has to represent something more than that one core principle. 
    I voted for a Scottish govenment back in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. So the independence argument has to go one further and let me know why it would be better than what we have at present. And, given what we have at present, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
    You can’t deny that many Nats currently haudin their tongue, Blairite style, are committed anti-NATOists and committed to being rid of Trident.
    For independence to have a fighting chance the SNP will have to drop opposition to NATO and probably to nuclear weapons as well (apologies  for covering old ground).

  16. David McCann says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how British nationalists continually conflate the desire for Scottish self government, with party policy, and I am surprised that you, obviously intelligent, appear to share that view.
    Clearly, the Scottish Greens, SSP and Solidarity, do not share all the policies of the SNP, apart from the SNP’s core belief of independence, which is why, despite their differences, they will be lining up with the SNP’s Yes campaign tomorrow.
    And when that independence is achieved, you can add to the mix Labour, Tory and Lib/Dem, for then the people of Scotland will have to decide, which party’s policies will best will serve their interests post independence.
    For my part, I hope that the Scottish people will vote in an SNP government, but it is not a given. I am interested in which party you will be voting for.

  17. Chic McGregor says:

    All those questions Unionists demand answers to regarding a future Scotland SHOULD also be getting put to the Unionists regarding staying with the Union.
    Will Scotland remain in the EU if it stays with the UK?
    If Shetland votes for independence but Scotland does not will it be allowed to go on its own?
    Will any existing powers in the Scottish Parliament be removed if we vote to stay?
    Will the voting system be changed?
    Will Scots be allowed independence referendums in the future?
    Will Scotland be able to regulate financial services in Scotland or will that stay in London?
    What are the UK plans for disposal of the radioactive subs at Rosyth?
    However, with Unionists controlling virtually all of the Scottish MSM, those and others are not likely to see the light of day are they?  Especially from the BBC.
    I presume some of you will be going to the Demo protesting against BBC anti-independence bias at Pacific Quay on Saturday.  The wife and I have had enough of the propaganda and bias and we’re going.

  18. Macart says:

    I’ve never believed the issue to be about policy but about where that policy should be created, a Westminster government or a Holyrood government. Who is best suited to serve the particular needs and aspirations of the Scottish electorate? 

    I’m going to go with Holyrood on that one. 🙂 

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Independence, if it’s to be voted for, has to represent something more than that one core principle.”

    No it doesn’t. That’s the whole point.

  20. pa_broon says:

    I don’t think a question has been answered more often than ‘what does independence mean?’.

    Its like a form of political blinkering, usually you get it with a politician thinking if he or she says something often enough it will become true or that they only need to convince themselves on an issue in order for it to become a generally accepted fact. (Tony Blair did this for Iraq.)

    Its just another bizarre strategy being deployed by people who have no positive case to offer for the continuance of the Union.

    On nuclear weapons. No we don’t have to have them, why would we? What would we do with them exactly? With whom would we be enjoying MAD? All nuclear weapons gets you is a chair at the top table in NATO, people need to stop looking at this issue through Union Jack Glasses, don’t know about any one else but I see Scotland working with other countries around the world on a basis of mutual benefit and consent. You don’t need nuclear weapons for that.

    The way some commentators talk about nuclear weapons and NATO, you’d think if Scotland didn’t have them NATO would attack us. Meanwhile no one talks about the Individual Partnership Action Plan or Partnership for Peace or indeed the Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative or just a straightforward Contact Country (Australia and NZ.) It isn’t all or nothing with NATO.

  21. Mark says:

    In the run up to the 2011 election, Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed on Newsnight and when asked, stated that an (SNP led) independent Scotland would not be joining NATO. Scotland would instead sign agreements committing itself to purely humanitarian aid.

    Can I ask what has changed significantly since then? I mean, it would appear that Scotland could decommission Trident and still be a part of NATO, but why would we wish to?

    If recent wars are anything to go by, I think Scotland should steer well clear. What are the actual benefits? Defense contracts for Scottish industry? Is that it?

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Can I ask what has changed significantly since then?”

    Nothing has. SNP policy is the same now as it was then.

  23. MajorBloodnok says:

    Is the referendum on whether we stay in NATO or not then?  I’m getting confused.  Surely we sort out the independence issue first and then address the policies that we would then actually be able to do something about. Scotland’s status and self-perception about its place in the world will change after independence and I think it is sensible to wait until we’ve actually got there before getting caught up in the details and try to deal pre-emptively with all of those Unionist red herrings, because that is all they are.

  24. Doug Daniel says:


     “Independence, if it’s to be voted for, has to represent something more than that one core principle. 
    I voted for a Scottish govenment back in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.”   

    Don’t you see? What you voted for was a full manifesto of policy commitments. You weren’t voting for one specific policy.

    I don’t recall Labour being forced to lay out their full post-devolution manifesto before the 1998 referendum. They proposed an idea – that the areas of Scottish life then handled by the Scotland Office should instead be handled by an elected parliament – and people voted accordingly. Nobody said “I’ll only vote for it if you tell me how you’ll do things differently from how they’re done now – and if you don’t, then I’ll just stick with what we have now, even though I think it is the wrong way of doing things.” Well, there probably were some – but they were being unrealistic.

  25. Mark says:

    Is the referendum on whether we stay in NATO or not then?

    From what I can tell, Patrick Harvie has two main points.

    (i) that an independent Scotland is, in its formative stages, likely to be SNP led, so we should be clear on their policies since they will most likely be making the seminal decisions.

    (ii) that the issues of NATO, Trident, and monarchy are tangible concerns that should be used to mobilise voters into supporting the “yes” camp. Scotland is a left wing country, so left wing ideals should be used to advocate the case for an independent Scotland.

  26. Don McC says:

    “Clearly, the Scottish Greens, SSP and Solidarity, do not share all the policies of the SNP, apart from the SNP’s core belief of independence, which is why, despite their differences, they will be lining up with the SNP’s Yes campaign tomorrow.”

    To be honest, David, I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Harvie pulled out of tomorrow’s launch.  The Greens’ commitment to Scottish Independence has never struck me as solid and the noises Harvie has been making all week about how other parties shouldn’t be portrayed as SNP cheer leaders makes me believe he’s looking for an easy out.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  27. MajorBloodnok says:

    Seems to be an odd way of thinking for Mr Harvie (if true) because if independence doesn’t happen then there isn’t a hope in hell that the UK will get rid of WMD, get out of NATO or avoid more illegal wars at America’s behest, whilst with independence there is much more chance that all of these things will (eventually) be left behind as an rUK legacy.

  28. douglas clark says:

    Don McC,
    Why would the Greens pull out of localsim? It is certainly not in their interests to have their message minimised by our current Westminster system. A green message I happen to agree with.
    We have to obtain a country that – at the very least – recognises the threats we face.
    That is going to be less likely if Greens do not support independence.
    I hope that the Greens do not demit on this issue.

  29. Janos says:

    “Sure. Although a link to the piece alongside it would be the nice thing to do.”

     Sure thing =).

  30. David McCann says:

    The Scottish Green Party, like the SNP, SSP and  Solidarity are all members of the Scottish Independence Convention of which I am a founding member. The Convention will be represented tomorrow at the launch of the YES campaign. I can assure you that  there will  be a space within the Yes campaign for multiple campaigns: LGBT for Independence, Artists for Independence, Greens for Independence, Socialists for Independence etc etc.
    Don’t be fooled by the MSM stories of splits in the Yes camp. Bear in mind that  all political parties have their own (legitimate) views of post independence Scotland. But ALL are united on the attainment of that status.

  31. Alasdair says:

    “Obviously we can’t do art for toffee, but you get the general idea.” … you might not do art, but I shared the image this morning, it’s now been shared 44 times and glancing down the share list I note at least two other people who have had it shared a large number of times also.

    Well done, clearly a good image with some good resonance 🙂

  32. Chic McGregor says:

    I agree that future policy is something that will be whatever the people and their government agree it to be.  Scotland will have governments of different shades along with different policies as the future unrolls just like every other democracy.   Demanding details for future scenarios is just plain stupid except for the fact that it does seem to put independence supporters on the spot.
    Ignoring them and saying “detailing policies which may never even be adopted due to unforseen circumstance is a pointless exercise, we should concentrate only on independence”  Is the sensible and logical thing to do, sadly, however that does not mean to say it is the best way from an electorate persuasion POV.  It could easily be played as “independence supporters are avoiding these issues because they fear them” by the U-pack.
    The best way to demonstrate that answering specific questions about  future post independent Scotland is a pointless and time-wasting exercise is may be to make the Unionists answer the same kind of hypothicating questions if Scotland stays in the UK.  Their answers will be guaranteed to be more diverse than that of the independence supporting parties therefore much less credible, and they will soon refuse to speculate.  At which point that whole stupid little game should be a dead duck.  Hopefully.

  33. douglas clark says:

    Well, let us suppose that – post independence – we voted for a government that was a tad different from the SNP.
    Is that not almost the point of it?
    We would exercise our democratic mandate.
    Without voting ‘yes’, we are disenfranchised. Whoever they are, they would be swamped in a Westminster parliament.
    It that not true?

  34. Craig McKie says:

    I am commenting as a non-citizen whose ancestors left Galloway long ago under economic duress. There are as you no doubt know, far more persons in this category than will ever again be seen in Scotland of today or tomorrow. To say that there is an old grudge at work the wider world would be understating the case. The disdain shown by the English aristos towards the Scottish agrarian population in the 17 and 1800s is still a sore point. I have made some inquiries as to how those such as myself can contribute to the success of the Yes campaign. The consultation commission has yet to reply to my questions concerning the legality of foreign contributions either in direct ad spending dollars or in social media campaigns. But your graphic is exactly what I would like to see posted everywhere one looks in Scotland. On fences, on websites, on social media sites, in the mainstream media, regional newspapers — saturation everywhere so that the image is inescapable. Add to this: speakers lists of people with the right skills willing to show up anywhere and lucidly explain the image and the reality which lies behind, rallies with relevant entertainment and supportive celebrities, opposition research, writing rip and print backgrounders for the regional media, etc. etc. This all takes money and organization. It might even make sense to run a campaign in England pointing out what would happen to electoral process in England should the Union be terminated at some point in the future. Just a few thoughts from Canada.

  35. Pete says:

    There is a YouGov poll out in the Telegraph tomorrow.  This is the only snippet I have managed to get out of Google: “According to the YouGov poll, Mr Salmond’s notion of independence is rejected by a majority of two to one.” It’ll be interesting to see if it is YouGov’s usual sample.

  36. Mary says:

    If Scotland becomes independent will it still have MPs in Westminster, and if so, will they still be able to vote on matters applying only to England and Wales?

  37. David McCann says:

    Mary. No.

  38. Morag says:

    Mary, why on earth would an independent country send representatives to the parliament of another country?  Forgive me, but that question suggests you don’t even understand what the word “independence” means.

  39. Anne says:

    Mary.  No, an independent Scotland would not have Members of Parliament in Westminster.  That would be because of not needing them any longer, you see.    Not having any connection with the Westminster parliament.  Oh, give it a moment’s thought and I’m sure you will get the idea. 

    At present, I hope you do know that S.N.P. Members of (Westminster) Parliament do NOT, as a matter of principle, vote on matters solely pertaining to England or Wales.  Now, do tell just how worried you are about a “government” utterly unelected by Scotland being able to exercise power over Scotland. 

  40. Will Podmore says:

    Except, of course, that Britain’s parliament is not elected just by the 14 million in the South-East of England. Very selective (mis)use of statistics.
    And, note that 5 million in Scotland have 59 MPs, while 14 million in the S-E elect 139. If the S-E had the same proportion of MPs to voters as Scotland, the S-E would have 165 MPs! So each Scottish voter, in the Union, has more weight than each voter in the S-E.

  41. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    So? Parliamentary votes aren’t counted on some sort of relative basis. Scottish MPs are outnumbered 10 to 1.

  42. Will Podmore says:

    So, Scotland is not discriminated against as if it were some colonial possession.
    10 to 1, when Scotland’s population is 5 million, rUK’s 55 million = 1/11 = again, a more favourable ratio that warranted by the numbers = more proof that the Union does not discriminate against Scotland.

  43. Stoker says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell wrote on 24 May, 2012 at 12:22 pm:

    (by Morag @ 12pm) = “59 MPs? Not after 2015.”

    “Funnily enough I edited something about that in a couple of hours before you posted the comment. But the referendum will be held before the boundary rearrangement so the picture is still accurate.”

    Now almost 2019 & it’s still 59 MPs, but only just. Or is it?

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