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Wings Over Scotland

Weekend essay: Choosing choice 2

Posted on June 23, 2012 by

For weeks now, if not months, the independence community has been bombarded with claims from Unionists that it’s not independence if you have a shared currency, cooperate on defence, keep the monarchy, share embassies or empower others to act on your behalf. There’s been a continuing drone to the effect that if you don’t do everything personally then you’re not independent.

This view, as any student of English will tell you, is flawed – doing everything for yourself is not independence, but rather self-reliance.

Self-reliance – Not requiring help or support from others while acting autonomously. Self-reliance is relative freedom from needing to rely on others for help with instrumental or task-oriented activities and is distinguished from independence as the latter is a pre-requisite to self-reliance and not predicated on its existence.

In other words, you need independence to act autonomously and to choose to be self-reliant, if you so wish. Yet it would seem, having watched various Unionist politicians and commentators struggle with the concept of independence, that it is necessary to provide a definition that can be easily understood. So I’ll have a go.

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The wrong lizards 58

Posted on June 09, 2012 by

Thursday night’s Question Time from Inverness saw Johann Lamont once again trot out the line that the independence referendum doesn’t offer Scotland its only realistic chance of escaping Tory government for the forseeable future. Once again, the Labour quasi-leader insisted (56m 50s) that the choice between independence and the Tories was a false one, and that her party provided a genuine ideological alternative to the right-wing neoliberal philosophy which has dominated UK politics since 1979.

Unfortunately, that’s a lie. And the really troubling thing about it is that it means NOBODY is speaking for the majority of the British population, which almost certainly means that no mainstream political party is interested in representing your views. Which, you might think, is a pretty odd way to be running a supposed democracy.

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Weekend essay: How ‘divide and conquer’ became the Union’s paradoxical strategy 68

Posted on April 21, 2012 by

May 2011 saw an earth-shaking event redefine Scottish and UK politics, when the sheer scale of the SNP victory over its opponents caught everyone – including the SNP – off guard. The shock of the Unionist parties, though, was plainest to see. Lacking a coherent response to an unforseen event they were paralysed into inaction (by a combination of disbelief, delusion and sheer terror at the prospect of Scots finally being given an unrestricted say in their constitutional future) as rigidly as a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. 

The issue for the UK parties was that at first they simply couldn't comprehend the radically different new playing field they found themselves operating on. The result was an initial reflexive reaction of poorly thought-out attacks, smears and scaremongering that were easily dismantled by both independence supporters (most famously in 2011's hugely popular "#NewScareStoryLatest" Twitter hashtag) and neutral observers.

It's the nationalists' good fortune that the anti-independence parties have taken until a mere two weeks before the local-government elections to begin to formulate a more useful response. The easy ride of obviously-ludicrous scare stories, conflicting messages and sheer shambolic ineptitude is finally, perhaps, drawing to a close.

While we can still expect to see plenty examples of the former tactics, the Unionists are no longer a rabbit in headlights. Rather, as they begin to focus their efforts with some faltering semblance of competence, we're seeing at least some signs of them turning into the symbol of Britishness they most cherish – the lion.

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Weekend essay: Groupthink, the Bay of Pigs and the Scottish Labour Party 29

Posted on April 07, 2012 by

I've been watching the Labour Party's slow self-destruction for some years now with a mixture of regret and relief. Regret in what has become of a once great party, and relief that the Frankenstein’s monster it became may be slayed. This article will be rather critical of Labour, indeed it is more of a lament about Lamont and her ilk, but it is deserved. How did the party get to a point where its leadership has become so dysfunctional that they've turned former voters – myself included – away in droves?

I'm one of the lucky ones. As a supporter of independence I can envisage a future where the parties of old are reborn from the flames of destruction like a phoenix, without any Westminster baggage dragging them down. But that future is post-independence and until then the final death throes of the corruption eating away at the party are a danger to its prosperous future in an independent Scotland.

It is for this reason that I have been looking at most probably the greatest example of dysfunctional leadership in modern history, but one in which the participants learned and adapted to prosper later, a trick Labour could do with learning.

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