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Wings Over Scotland


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

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.

But before we get to that, to understand the new direction of the debate we need to study the development of the underlying strategy behind it. It's a return to a long-favoured Westminster gambit, a tried-and-tested one that the UK establishment invariably finds itself relying on whenever facing a self-determination movement, be it in India, Ireland or Scotland. It is, of course, the doctrine of "divide and conquer".

So what is "divide and conquer"? The term was first used to describe military action, and depending who you ask is either attributed to Julius Caesar (100BC – 44BC) as "divide et impera" (Latin for "divide and conquer") or to Philip II (King of Macedon 382-336BC) to describe his policy toward the Greek city-states. The tactic is simple and effective, and has been used to great effect for over 2000 years.

The premise is straightforward; disrupt your enemies in order to try to divide them into two or more smaller groups. Division it leaves the opposing side more vulnerable by increasing the number of sides they must defend, while reducing the support that they have available to fend off any particular attack. Although originally a battlefield tactic, "divide and conquer" has since been applied to a wider range of scenarios – most notably politics, the civilised form of warfare – throughout human history.

In our own context, we see this tactic in action in the form of a subtle (and not so subtle) media onslaught against the independence movement, documented extensively on this site. The onslaught is intended to place the movement (which encompasses not just the SNP, but also the Greens, the Scottish Socialists and other disparate organisations and individuals) under pressure to split into factions, providing the Unionists with an opportunity to take on smaller units that they can attempt to destroy one by one – particularly in the light of the fragility of the No camp's own alliance.

William Butler Yeats may not have been describing the battle for Scottish independence in his poem “The Second Coming” but this extract from it is nonetheless apt:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity”

"Divide and conquer" does not always require the instigator to create the division. Indeed, it's more likely that the would-be divisor will highlight existing splits within the enemy camp and attempt to drive wedges into them. An early success has been achieved through the constant pushing by the media of the myth of the "cybernats", which recently saw the emergence of a group of self-appointed “moderate” nationalists to keep the supposed extremists in line (typified in the divisive and unhelpful "Quisling Challenge" campaign on Twitter last week). 

The furore around the Economist's ‘Skintland’ article and the recent comments by David Starkey show another facet of the strategy. Once again nationalists are forced into two camps – those who are genuinely offended and angry, and those who try to chastise and suppress them because they believe the image of chippy, humourless Scots damages the cause.

But beyond exploiting largely self-inflicted wounds, the Unionists have also sought to create brand-new divisions. By way of illustration, let's take a look at four examples from the last few weeks.

Shetland/Orkney vs mainland Scotland

This might seem an obvious one – drive a wedge between the Northern Isles and the mainland. But the target is not, as it might first appear, the voters of the islands. Rather, by casting doubt on whether the Orkneys and Shetlands would come along with an independent Scotland, the idea is to undermine support from mainland voters who believed the country would lose its oil revenues. The problem for the UK parties, however, is that independence supporters have been actively seeking out counter-arguments ever since this strategy was first pursued in the infamous 1979 devolution campaign, and are far better placed to refute and counter such claims than ever before. 

Take, for instance, Severin Carrell's piece for the Guardian entitled "Islanders threaten rocky road for Alex Salmond's independence plans". Based on the title you'd be forgiven for believing that there had suddenly emerged a coherent independence movement for Shetland and Orkney demanding autonomy for the islands and/or complete independence from not only the UK, but Scotland as well.

Yet on further reading we discover that the article doesn't actually say that the people of Shetland and Orkney want independence from Scotland – it  merely states that former Lib Dem leader (and hardline Unionist) Tavish Scott believes that they might. So why is a Unionist advocating independence for the Northern Isles while simultaneously demanding that Scotland remain within the Union? There's only one logical explanation: Scott wants to divide and conquer.

Catholic vs Protestant

The Unionist parties' opposition to the Scottish Government's anti-sectarianism bill is evidence of the previous, clumsy and obvious, attempts at fostering division. But now the tactics are more subtle. As studies show the formerly-staunch support of Labour by the Catholic community – most notably in the of West of Scotland – is becoming a thing of the past, long-dead history is being dredged up to try and stir up religious fervour and enmity.

"Monklandsgate" was a political scandal in the former Scottish local government district of Monklands (now part of North Lanarkshire), which dominated the Monklands East by-election of 1994. Allegations of sectarianism were made against the ruling council at the time, based on spending discrepancies between the mainly Protestant Airdrie district and the prominently Catholic Coatbridge. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that all 17 of the ruling Labour group were Catholics.

Accusations included the spending of £21m on capital projects in Coatbridge while only £2m was spent in Airdrie; councillors handing out green job application forms to friends and family while the job centre handed out white ones; and accusations of nepotism as dozens of council workers were related to Labour councillors.  The allegations of sectarianism were found to be baseless, though those of nepotism proved to be true.

The fact that the sectarian allegations were false was known in 1995, when an inquiry undertaken by Robert Black QC, (Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University) found that there were no grounds for the claims of sectarianism. Yet 17 years after the verdict of that event was made public, and sectarianism was found not to be evident, the Herald and other media outlets found a wafer-thin excuse (involving the discovery of "new papers" but little to no new information) to revive the story, to no discernible purpose other than to reopen old scars.

NATO and the SNP

The past week saw concerted attempts to factionalise SNP supporters with unfounded rumours of the SNP dropping their long-standing opposition to an independent Scotland being a member of NATO. The story was excellently analysed by Peter A Bell in this article published by Newsnet Scotland, from which the following extracts are taken:

“To whatever extent there is a significant debate going on about a possible shift in the SNP's policy in relation to NATO, this is entirely due to some substance-free speculation by the BBC. Speculation which was surely indulged in with the intent of provoking precisely the kind of outraged reaction graciously provided by Peter Curran and others.”

“Am I the only one to notice the striking similarities in the language used by both Ruth Davidson and Jim Murphy? Or the fact that both came out with the identical sound-bite, "The SNP just don't get defence!"? Reading from the same script? You be the judge.”

“It is, perhaps regrettably, in the nature of such discussions that one is generally well-advised to be as explicit about what is NOT being said as what is. I am NOT saying that SNP policy on NATO won't be reviewed.  Nor am I saying that there is no possibility of it coming under review at this year's National Council. All I am saying is that the speculation by the BBC on this matter is no more than that.

It tells us absolutely nothing about the actuality or even the probability of such a review being undertaken.  We are told nothing that we didn't know already. The policy is subject to review. That is all.

And so to the nub of the matter. And for this we have to exercise our imagination and suppose that there is some substance to the speculation. We have to suppose that there actually is an intention to review the SNP's policy in regard to NATO in the short-term. Perhaps even at this year's National Council. I stress again that we have no actual evidence for this”

The allegations of a possible change in SNP policy towards NATO are completely without evidence. Yet they've already succeeded in suckering various nationalist bloggers into angry denunciations of something that hasn't actually happened,, while others have fuelled the fire by putting the opposing viewpoint, leading commentators to prolong the argument still further with analysis. Meanwhile, the Unionists sit back and gleefully watch the Nats' feathers fly, over an issue about which almost no ordinary voters actually care much one way or the other.

The Scotland Bill

To the casual observer, the sneering mockery of the opposition parties at Holyrood over the passing of legislative consent for the Scotland Bill this week may have seemed strange. The Bill, after all, was the result of the Calman Commission conducted by those self-same parties, and as such you might have expected them to be pleased about its successful implementation.

Just why would Unionists mock and deride the passage of their own bill, which they claim as the most significant transfer of powers to the Scottish Government since devolution? Once again, the intent is to sow discontent amongst the supporters of independence. Although few of the SNP's desired improvements were ultimately made to the bill during negotiations, the First Minister's team did succeed in eliminating its worst aspects, and co-operated constructively with the UK Government rather than using its Holyrood majority to block it.

This, of course, is exactly the consensus-based approach the Unionists have spent the last five years demanding, as they repeatedly accused the SNP of "picking fights with Westminster". Yet as soon as they get what they claim to want – in both the specific and broader senses – they jeer the nationalists' supposed weakness, stinging the party's more thin-skinned supporters into anger.

But what does all this have to do with lions? Patience, dear reader. We're nearly there.

The legendary Greek writer Aesop was a possibly-apocryphal storyteller, whose most famous attributed works are a number of fables. In one, “The Four Oxen and the Lion”, Aesop describes how a lion was known to stalk a field where four oxen dwelled.  The revenous lion tried to attack the oxen, but whenever he came near they would turn so as all their tails were pointing to the centre of a circle, so that whichever way the hungry lion approached he was met by the horns of one of the oxen.

The oxen knew that unity was their strength and protection, but eventually they succumbed to quarrelling amongst themselves and stopped acting as a group – preferring to go off to pasture, each to his own corner of the field. Sensing his chance, the hungry lion attacked and ate the oxen one by one until the field was bare.

The recent content of the No campaign is intended to achieve the same goal. The scheduling of the referendum for 2014 leaves the Unionist parties and their media supporters a very long window in which to attack the still mostly-united front of their enemy, and in particular its strongest force – the SNP. 

Some of the weaker elements within nationalism have already been lured into pointing their guns at their allies, fighting a vicious internal battle over the spoils of independence long before that independence is won. We can only hope that before they unleash their "friendly" fire, they consider whose bodies they want to see strewn across the battlefield at the end of the day.

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

    1. James Mclaren says:
    2. Arbroath1320 says:

      I think that all these "divide and conquer" methods you highlight are, for the most part, non events. I believe that almost all those who believe in Independence will see these pathetic shots as nothing worse than a midge trying to get a slup of your blood, a swipe of your hand and they are gone.
      What, I believe, is more rigorous in the unionist "divide and conquer" attack is the latest announcement from good old George that he is going to give nearly £10 Billion to the I.M.F. This despite the fact that, apparently, earlier in the year he stated this would never happen. Add to this Westminster's refusal to supply the Scottish government with £400 Million for "shovel ready" contracts and the recent announcement of the £4.1 Billion sewerage renewal programme for London and I think the divide and conquer plans have backfired spectacularly!
      I don't think it will be the Independence movement that will end up being divided and conquered but more likely the unionist Anti Independece Brigade (A.I.B.). No matter how hard they try and split us up they ALWAYS end up shooting themselves in the foot. Add in the latest from the Economist, Starkey and others and the self inflicted shotgun wound to the foot is GUARENTEED!
      Just keep sending the A.I.B to their beloved P.F.I. local hospital and I'm sure they'll be fine. That is if the hospital has not already been closed down or privatised by uncle George and co. Don't worry about the "after shooting" police investigation either I'm sure George's privatised police force will be on top of the case in no time at all. 😀

    3. James Mclaren says:

      I was a bit surprised  to see the size of the lead I tried to post regarding BBC Scotland's new identity map. North against south and England by extrapolitation huge and  lurkingly undrawn.
       
      In fact instead of posting the link it actually posted the image, which then left me no space to post my text.

      Hope it doesn't stuff up your blog or overload you Mb limit.
       

    4. RevStu says:

      In fact it's posted nothing at all. Have another go.

    5. TYRAN says:

      Good stuff RevStu. I noticed some using the term but didn't really know what it was all about until now. Well explained.
      The NNS story "The SNP, NATO and the BBC" is so good they seemingly don't promote these things on their social feeds. First of me seeing it. I don't get that place at all. 
      edit: now even stopped their Twitter feed and morphed into something unrelated. So stupid. It's like cutting off your own dick. Don't they want to spread the word?

    6. Peter A Bell says:

      Many thanks for the kind words regarding my article on the BBC's mischeif-making over SNP policy on NATO. In the light of this you may be interested to know that I have written a follow-up article which has some relevance to your own excellent analysis.
      Scotland & NATO: The real debate

    7. RevStu says:

      "Good stuff RevStu."

      Like all the Weekend Essays so far, this is Scott M's work, not mine.

    8. Peter A Bell says:

      …the Unionists are no longer a rabbit in headlights.

      While it may be true that at last some part of the independence campaign has forsaken the worst form of negativity it seems to me that they still lag behind a debate which, while they were busy concocting scare-stories, moved on from discussing the "if" of independence to take its first tentative steps into the realm of "when".
      If eyebrows are raised by talk of the SNP developing its vision of an independent Scotland's relationship with NATO it is not because this is seen as premature or presumptuous. Talk of Scotland's future as an independent nation has passed from dreaming to planning.

    9. douglas clark says:

      Scott,
      Excellent article. I've been following the David Starkey story more closely than the others, but I am unaware of anyone chastising cybernats for giving him a good kicking, well, at least from within the independence community if I can call it that.
      But I do recognise your analysis. It seems important to me that independently minded people do two things. Firstly persuade the undecideds to our side and secondly concentrate on 2014 as a first port of call. On the latter point I do not see it as particularily urgent to get rid of the Queen, for instance, nor determine NATO membership. These are issues that we can decide once we are independent. It is these, longer term issues, that the unionists will use to try to divide us. But, frankly, they have been marginal issues in UK politics for years and have never taken centre stage. Why an independent Scotland should be required to resolve all issues forever-more before 2014 is setting a far higher standard of the Scottish electorate than they apply to themselves.
      The point about independence is so that future generations can take meaningful decisions with a chance to see them implemented.
       

    10. Peter A Bell says:

      Meanwhile, the Unionists sit back and gleefully watch the Nats' feathers fly, over an issue about which almost no ordinary voters actually care much one way or the other.

      A significant point. While I appreciate the very complimentary feedback on my Newsnet Scotland article relating to SNP policy on NATO – and allowing for the fact that the article was not about that policy but rather the behaviour of the media – perhaps the most telling thing was the fact that it did not provoke a substantial debate. In its own small way I think this serves to support the contetion that NATO is not exactly at the forefront of people's minds as we go into the referendum campaign.

    11. RevStu says:

      "concentrate on 2014 as a first port of call. On the latter point I do not see it as particularily urgent to get rid of the Queen, for instance, nor determine NATO membership. These are issues that we can decide once we are independent."

      Precisely this. I'm extremely disturbed by nationalists getting stroppy about these kinds of issues at THIS point. As we've noted on the blog several times, the referendum decides one thing and one thing only – who elects the government of Scotland. Everything after that is for the people to decide by the normal method – electing a party or parties to Parliament according to their manifestos.

      If there's a strong desire to be rid of the Queen and out of NATO, a party will arise, or split off from one or more of the existing parties, to cater to those demands. At the moment we do NOT have the power to make the decision, so arguing about it is a waste of time. Let's get the power, then have the debate.

      (Or as someone on my Twitter feed more concisely put it earlier today, if people raise such issues let's answer them with one word: "2015".)

    12. Angus McLellan says:

      There is some evidence, thin perhaps, that the Westminster establishment is starting to move beyond denial and flat opposition towards a position of "thinking about the unthinkable". The Royal United Services Institute are very much part of the establishment as can be seen from the make up of their leadership.
      Malcom Chalmer's "From Darien to Faslane" paper for RUSI, available at: http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/End_of_an_Auld_Sang.pdf is interesting then. It was quoted in parts, mainly the gloom and doom parts, by the Scotsman. It may not be the government's view, but it is the view of the sort of person that gets listened to by government and call to give evidence to parliamentary committees and the like.
      What struck me is that Chalmers spends relatively little time on the dreadful risks of separation. Instead it seems as if his intention is to frame any future debate on defence in a particular way. Specifically, to make NATO membership appear indispensible, and to make a Mini Me clone of the UK's defence policy seem like the only logical and reasonable solution.
      You can see Chalmers' paper as an example of divide and rule given the perception of a link between NATO and Trident. And of course the usual suspects treated it in that way as seen in the Scotsman and the Herald. But it seems to me that the framing aspect is more important.
      As Alan Bissett might have put it had Vote Britain been ten times as long: "So-called independence, is it?  If you have it, make sure it looks like this." I imagine we'll be hearing similar helpful advice on all manner of subjects from neutral experts. Better get used to it.

    13. Jim Campbell says:

      A lot of the questions asked by Westminster (NATO, defence policy, etc) regarding an independent Scotland's future plans should be answered by the simple phrase –
      "Mind your own business".
      What an independent Scotland decides is our business, not theirs.

    14. Macart says:

      Cracking article and very timely Rev.
       
      For almost the first time ever Arb I'm going to disagree with you. I see a great danger in divide and conquer tactics, especially toward new converts or undecideds and mainly because they have worked to great effect in the past. To you and I its occasionally irritating or downright laugh out loud funny these attempts to cast doubt or scaremonger, but to others and I mean the others we are trying to win over, they can cause serious worry. We need to reassure those people that in this issue above and beyond all others there is no colour, no catholic or protestant, no left or right and no overly romanticised wishful thinking.
       
      We need to tell them we're all Scots, regardless of origin and that we're going places, that whatever their religious or political belief, if they believe in true democracy and choice. If they believe that a parliament should serve the people then we have one and only one foe to fight and that is Westminster. Our differences can wait until after we have achieved the democracy that should be the birthright of all resident Scots and generations of Scots to come. I would even kiss the first Scots tory I see on hearing they've put an X in the Yes box in 2014, just so long as they have photographic evidence.
       
      Well mibbee. 😀

    15. Arbroath1320 says:

      Steady on Macart. I think disagree is a wee bit strong there. 😀 Maybe different sides of the same coin.
      I think you are right in that it is the undecideds who we have to try and "protect" from the unionist lies and deceipt tactics. One problem we have is that we can not just bombard them with the truth about Independence we do actually need the "other side", namely the unionists, to put their point over as well. Unfortunately for the unionists they have NO "Union is good" point to make. All the unionists can do is make outrageous claims. There is NO ONE on the unionist side who is capable of standing up to make the positive case FOR the union in a similar way that Alex Salmond can do FOR Independence.
      The problem we have as a result of the non appearance of the PRO union lobby and their POSITIVE casr for the union is that we are left with what is left, namely the pro unionists and their scaremongering. They wouldn't know the truth if it hit them between the eyes so they think scaremongering is normal. Unfortunately for them we have a team up against them who are superior in every department and have, currently do, and will continue to shoot down in flames ANY ridiculous scare story the unionists care to put about.
      No matter how ridiculous the scare stories get between now and the referendum we will all stay vigiant, of that I have no doubt, and our team at the SNP along with our help will continue to shoot down the unionists, no matter how ridiculous their stories and we will WIN the day because we WILL win over the undecideds because they WILL accept our stance and our refuttal of the scare stories from the unionists.
       
      Appoligies for the rant. Suffering from a wee bit of verbal diahorrera tonight. 😀

    16. Macart says:

      Nah, rant away Arb. I do get where Rev Stu and Mr Campbell are coming from though. We see a lot of it on a number of sites these days. In the face of the onslaught of negativity from the plausible to the laughable, you can see a pattern forming. The one thing we must show throughout all of this and especially to the converts is a united front. Question everything that's thrown at us, root and branch and calm rattled nerves wherever we come across them.
       
      I like your approach for this and fully agree that humour is the best way to take tension out of many threads and burst many a pompous balloon. I'd still kiss that independence voting tory though. 🙂

    17. Arbroath1320 says:

      Bags I get the first photie of the kiss!:D
      I agree that a united front is a MUST and EVERYTHING from the unionists MUST be questioned. As I think I tried to say above is that I believe that we have the right team in place to counter ANY unionist scare story, at least up there on the professional, political level.
      Further down the scale, a.k.a. our level, we do need more than most to somehow get all our Independence collegues fighting and singing from the same song sheet. This, as you say, is the difficult battlefield. I don't have a simple answer for this level of the battle ahead but, if I can refer to another site, I think the "A – Z of Unionist myths" which is on NNS may well be a good place to start.  Perhaps this should be printed out and delivered to every household in Scotland.
      Let's face it the unionists have NO answer to the responses in this piece. There are currently 62 unionist scare points corrected, no doubt Paul Kavannah is currently working on his latest batch which will be added in due course.
       

    18. douglas clark says:

      Arbroath1320 and Macart,
      I agree with you guys, OK?
      So, time out, have you read Angus McLellans thoughtful contribution to this thread? And more importantly the link he provided.
      Well, I did. And having got over the Darien scheme and the McEmpire drivel, it was, as Angus said, an attempt to make us think that plus ca change, plus ca meme chose. Rather ridiculously I started nodding along to it, until I remembered that this is, as Angus says, a mini me attempt to frame our future defence policies.
      We will not win by pandering to what they think is best for us. It is up to us what is best for us and this rather insidious – daddy knows best – approach has to be halted in it's tracks.
      I'd have thought that was the whole point of being independent. At the moment these people carry influence at Westminster. I am not averse to a discussion with them, but I want to live in a society that has a veto on their view of us and our place in the world. I shall not get that whilst they patronise o9r rule us.
      This is going to be long and bitter. They'll throw everything at us, from the soft core of Malcolm Chalmers piece to the hard core of King George, oops, David Starkey. I take some succour from the fact that we are a thrawn bunch, look how we rejected the Tories. And I think we are educated enough to see through most of this sort of stuff. We ought to expect a tsunami of this combination of insult and appeal to our sentiment.
      It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings.
      2014, I believe……………….
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

    19. Macart says:

      Aye, Paul's A-Z is a must for the average poster like masel'. Again, a guy who knows how to use humour to best effect. It is precisely this particular battleground, the web, where the debate is going to to be most hotly contested. You're right to say that the politicians can well and truly take care of themselves. The SNP in particular have a good team in place and a leader who could clean the clock of any of his peers or indeed stroll past your run of the mill media type.
       
      But the frontline troops tend to be found on various news or political sites knocking nine bells out of either an article, the opposition or each other. As you know I've only recently become a party member after years of merely being cynical (who knew?), but spent a good number of years prior to this wearing my professional hat producing design and print for the independence minded. It's not just party members out there and they need all the help they can get. There are plenty of folk who are experts on history, defence, law, energy, politics et al, but there are oh so few who can wander into a contentious thread and take the steam out of a situation, calm hot heads and bring reason back into a debate by being just themselves. Its a rare gift but a valuable one in the context of the above article.
       
      Too many people start to freak in the face of all the pooh being chucked at independence. Threads become hot and nasty with claim and counter claim and people with a common purpose start to doubt and second guess themselves and indeed people they've cordially chatted with for months. We need more of the ordinary Joe Public tension killers on the threads. Folk with a sense of humour and the ability to stand back and ask an honest question of the more serious types. People who absolutely believe in the end game and can cut through all the fear with a smile and say, can we no all have a pint an be mates here.
      We need more of them.

    20. douglas clark says:

      Macart,
      I agree with you about Paul's A-Z.  It has a deadly combination of wit and knowledge.
      And it sure doesn't talk down to anyone!
       

    21. Macart says:

      Hullo Douglas
       
      Just checked out the link from Mr McLellans post. That's a fairly comprehensive piece of work and very well thought out. Thanks to yourself and Mr McLellan above for the link. As for me and Arb, honestly, no time out required. Two peas in a pod.
       
      I agree it's going to be a long and bitter fight. All the more reason for the type of poster I described above to make a showing. Yer also right to say the fat lady will sing in 2014, but I always thought Moira Stewart was just big boned. 🙂

    22. clochoderic says:

      stu,
        I have just been talking to a dj of a radio talk show in Texas ( don't ask) who I managed to sell the idea of a wee story about the groundswell for independence and the BBC coverage thereof.
        He is interested and i offered to point him in the right direction – after some reflection and a quick look through the back pages of NNS I am struggling to find a succinct account with useful links.
        I am apealing to you and your contributors to give us handers here.

    23. Macart says:

      We're back! Whit happened?
       
      As I was saying above Douglas, it'll be all over when the first lady of news Moira Stewart declares Scotland's independence over the airwaves. Until then, tin hats, thick socks and a sense of humour to help sift through all the stuff being chucked at us.

    24. ayemachrihanish says:

       
      Rev Stu – Like wise on your comment.  Many of us are disturbed by nationalists getting stroppy about these kinds of issues – we've already exchanged views on it – for this very reason. The answer is to know your enemy; and then follow the example of Gandhi, Mandela (passive resistance based on the "insistence on truth" ) and our own Jimmy Reid who advocated we act with dignity for " the eyes of the world are watching". 
       
      All in the Independence movement must understand (a) who it is that's intent on binding Scotland to a UK and why? Thereafter, It is towards these institutions that we must direct our attentions.  And (b) we must be united and act with dignity – insistence on truth – we in the march towards the referendum can uphold that approach but it is IMPOSSIBLE for the City of Westminster to do likewise.  

    25. Longshanker says:

      Unlike you guys, I don't see the bias of the BBC in the fashion you do. Therefore when the likes of Brian Taylor argues that Sun King Salmond wants a second question on Devo Max,  I find it mind boggling that RevStu could find it mind boggling.
       
      A 'divide and conquer' strategy by Sun King Alex is a good riposte' to the Brian Taylor assertion. But it still doesn't cover the assertion that Sun King Alex does want a second question because it is so favourably regarded as an opton by so many Scots. And it's a political career continuity fallback for the Firstminster.
       
      But that's off topic, I refer to it to highlight the way you guys seem to so casually dispense of views you don't like. If the BBC report that there may be a change in policy regarding NATO, then due to the logic and timing, I am inclined to believe it. The BBC has eyes and ears everywhere in the politics game.
       
      Professor Chalmer's piece, as alluded to, was a ready exercise in realpolitik for a post independence world. Scotland has to signal where it's loyalties will lie post-independence regarding NATO.
       
      A common thread I've noticed in various blogs including this one is the:  "this can all be sorted out after independence" argument. Professor Chalmer's piece quite clearly illustrates why that would be a highly risky strategy for the SNP to adopt.
       
      If America, or NATO, decides that Scotland might have to be considered a potentially disloyal  'enemy within', the odds of independence occurring will take a nose dive. I'd bet a weeks wages on it.
       
      So yeah. Harping on about NATO is a good tactic for sewing the seeds of division among the SNPs membership and party. There are a significant amount of them despise NATO for numerous reasons.  If such a long standing policy IS changed then the seeds of dissent will grow into the fruits of discord – a potentially damaging vote loser due to the disunited front.

    26. douglas clark says:

      ayemacrahanish,
      Agreed.
      Our difficulty here is that there has to be a positive case put forward for the post independence era. I, and if I have read most of the comments here correctly, the rest of us, see it as an uphill struggle to win the battle for our own autonomy. It is probably for that reason that the SNP are approaching the referendum as cannily as they are, by not tying it to other issues.
      Saying that I wouldn't vote for independence because the independence manifesto may say we will keep the Queen as head of state is utterly self defeating. I mention that merely because I saw it somewhere on a web-site comments thread. Politics will not stop when we become an independent nation. Indeed, it could be reasonably argued that it will only start after that.
      It is a difficult balance to construct an independence manifesto that meets the desires of a nation. I have my own ideas of what an independent Scotland should be, but that is for 2015, as RevStu's correspondent rightly says. We have two years, give or take, to establish the framework of that manifesto. In my opinion, we ought to be spending that time on fleshing out the constitution rather than trying to debate post independence politics, for at the moment there appears to be no-one willing to engage with us in that debate. All their eggs are in the basket of winning a no vote to the referendum. When it becomes clearer that they will lose then they will flutter in the breeze. I cannot see the career politicians in the unionist parties all going in a huff and exiting politics en mass. Frankly, most of them would be unemployable in any other career.
       
       
       

    27. douglas clark says:

      Of course, when Mother Westminster fails to convince through kisses and cuddles, they can threaten us with the big bad bogey man. That is the sum and substance of Longshankers contribution.
      It might be worth considering what the Americans did when France withdrew from NATO. Not a lot is one interpretation.
       

    28. Peter A Bell says:

      We have a starting point for a debate about the constitution in the SNP's 2002 document, A Constitution for a Free Scotland. I am surprised that there is not more discussion about this. I will be publishing an article on this very topic later today.

    29. RevStu says:

      "Unlike you guys, I don't see the bias of the BBC in the fashion you do. Therefore when the likes of Brian Taylor argues that Sun King Salmond wants a second question on Devo Max,  I find it mind boggling that RevStu could find it mind boggling."

      Anyone who thinks Alex Salmond wants a second question has a screw loose, simple as that. He hasn't spent his entire life campaigning for a parliament with no control of defence, foreign affairs and welfare. This is his one shot at his life's goal, and he knows he will very likely never get another (whether due to human mortality or the difficulty of winning another Holyrood majority).

      I absolutely guarantee you he has not the slightest desire for an option appearing on the ballot paper which would guarantee independence losing.

    30. Macart says:

      Look forward to it Mr Bell.
       
      Aye Douglas, there are many who believe that independence will fail as a concept if we don't absolutely agree on every single thing. Its an utter nonsense of course. We all have differing views on how we'd like to see Scotland governed post referendum, what currency, EU in or out, Trident in or out and indeed Nato in or out. Those are for the people of Scotland to decide upon and that is what independence offers – the chance for the people of Scotland to make choices. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me the important issue is delivering a parliament that is directly answerable to the needs and wishes of the Scottish electorate.
       
      Will I take the huff if the SNP discuss joining Nato? Nope. Will I take the huff if they don't? Nope. Do I think the SG are going to fight for the best interests of the Scottish electorate in every policy area? You betcha. I may not agree with everything they do, but just for once I believe we have a government who actually take their job of serving the public interest seriously.

    31. douglas clark says:

      Macart,
      Well, that's you and me agreed 🙂
      This has been an interesting comment thread. I look forward to reading what Peter A Bell has to say about the constitution. Peter, where are you going to post it?
       
       

    32. Peter A Bell says:

      I'll post it on my own blog and then see if anybody elase wants to publish it. I usually submit to NNS. But Scottish Times has asked for a piece. I'll keep you posted. Although at the present rate of progress the article may be overtaken by the independence celebarations.

    33. Peter A Bell says:

      Must learn to type plorerpy.

    34. Longshanker says:

      Anyone who thinks Alex Salmond wants a second question has a screw loose, simple as that.
       
      I didn't see any hanging off of Brian Taylor. Unlike you, he has day to day contact with politicians and a far keener political insight and sense of perspective than someone who spends his days reading the Telegraph and Scotsman when not playing videogames.
       
      So how can you 'absolutely guarantee' that that isn't what Sun King Salmond wants?  Got a hotline have you?

    35. Morag says:

      You know, I'd maybe take Longshanker a bit more seriously if his basic grasp of written English was a bit better, and he didn't keep coming out with puerile imbecilities like "Sun King Salmond"….
       
      And yes, Peter, I can tell the difference between fat fingers and basic illiteracy.

    36. Morag says:

      Maybe "screw loose" is a bit strong, but certainly, anyone who thinks Alex Salmond wants a second question about enhanced devolution on the independence referendum is naive, lacking in insight, and frankly gullible.  It may be the crowning masterstroke of the independence campaign to have convinced the unionist camp to disown what could have been its most effective weapon, by allowing the unionist media themselves to peddle the notion that this was something the SNP were in favour of.

    37. ayemachrihanish says:

        Anyone who thinks Alex Salmond wants a second question has a screw loose, simple as that.

      Agree completely. One question – open goal – shoot!  

      Longshanker Re your  Brain Taylor view – see final comment below. (This was posted elsewhere but it responds equally to your comment)     

      The admission that these are reasons for England to try to keep a hold of Scotland, not for Scotland to stay in the union, is almost correct. It is the institutions of The City of Westminster not England that want to hold on to the revenues that flow from Scotland. The great and almost perpetual Scotland v England rhetoric is the "Jewel" component in the "Great British" divide and conquer strategy.  Press Play for they're too wee, too and stupid subsidy junkies it's our taxes etc, etc. colossal media energy is spent fuelling that lie and colossal time is spent by ordinary people trying to bridge that mythical divide. There are three Westminster institutions obsessed with securing the revenues from Scotland for as long as is feasibly possible. They are The Treasury, The Treasury & The Treasury. The UK Treasury is the chair organisation of a very select members club of Westminster institutions staffed by permanent mandarins and secretary's hell bent on the maximum benefit of a minority elite.  England, the colonised and subjugated mass of this elite, have got little or nothing to do with it. See Boris Johnston for details. Or follow Brian Taylor's subservient output framed entirely to ensure that the "Jewel" divide and conquer momentum is always cultivated and to the fore.     

    38. ayemachrihanish says:

      Correction – "for" a minority elite 

    39. RevStu says:

      "So how can you 'absolutely guarantee' that that isn't what Sun King Salmond wants?  Got a hotline have you?"

      Something like that.

    40. Longshanker says:

      Morag said:
      "anyone who thinks Alex Salmond wants a second question about enhanced devolution on the independence referendum is naive, lacking in insight, and frankly gullible"
       
      Hmm. Interesting that you think Brian Taylor and David Cameron are all of the above.
      One has dealt with politicians and their various pecadilloes and pretensions for years, and the other's Brian Taylor.
       
      Seriously though, David Cameron, if nothing else, is an out and out political animal. At the Troon Tory conference he clearly signalled that it was one question only. A line in the sand if you like.
       
      Why would he signal that or Brian Taylor make the argument he made, regarding the second question, if the evidence wasn't there? Naivety? Gullibility? Lack of insight?
       
      Alternatively, I'd suggest to you Morag that your SNP tinted glasses are causing political myopia rather than enabling any kind of wider insight. You've said before that you'd vote for Auld Nick if he could deliver independence. That strikes me as a fairly skewed view of the world – Faustian pacts an aw that.
       
      I'm completely open to being wrong come the results of the consultation, but I think Brian Taylor hit the nail on the head with the scenario he called a 'best guess'. No absolutes there you'll notice. That's proper political comment – even if you are biassed.
      If you want a real example of 'puerile imbecility' however, read over that comment again by RevStu where he claims he can 'absolutely guarantee' what the Firstminster desires.
       
      Aside from puerile imbecility, |'d argue that it's a prima facie example of unrestrained ego bordering on megalomaniacal solipsism. And you guys are feeding it. It's kinda funny really. 
      Regards
       

    41. Longshanker says:

      ayemachrihanish
       
      I understand the sentiment, but you'll have to forgive me for not having a great deal of time for the chip on the shooder sentiment of your piece
      I've got sidetracked from the initial post I made. So apologies to commenters for it being off topic.
      Sneeky boy addressed the subject of NATO as a made up issue to divide the independence camp. I genuinely think it will cause division.
       
       It only remains to see just how many in the party's membership will keep shtoom and how many will cry foul and fight back over a perceived volte face in the SNPs longstanding manifesto.
       
      NB: Are you from the Machrihanish with the interesting 13/14th century marriage customs?
       
       
       

    42. Morag says:

      Well, I'm glad someone's amused.  Yes, I'd say Cameron and Taylor are all of that, in this context certainly.
       
      It's perfectly obvious why Cameron is against a second question on the referendum.  The main answer is that he sees – has been manoeuvred into seeing – such a ballot as giving Salmond a "consolation prize".  That says it all, really.  He views increased automony for Scotland as something to be avoided, because it would make the SNP happy.  Not as happy as independence, but happy nonetheless.  So he sets his face against it.
       
      Unpicking that a bit further, it goes like this.  Any proposal which was put to the electorate as a second question would have to be throught through and spelled out.  This has two implications.  One that the electorate will be able to see exactly what is on offer from the unionist side, and two that its delivery would have to be guaranteed if it came out on top in the poll.
       
      There are two possible scenarios.  First, that Cameron capitulates to the "devo-max" lobby, and offers Scotland control of everything but defence and foreign affairs.  That would probably win, right enough.  But it will be a cold day in hell before Cameron will offer that – it would leave Scotland almost independent, be a genuine consolation prize for the SNP, and probably lead to full independence quite soon anyway.  Second, that Cameron puts forward in detail a proposal for increased devolution that he would actually be prepared to offer.  That is likely to be so anaemic and frankly not worth having that sufficient pissed-off devo-max voters defect to the independence camp and independence gets its majority.
       
      So the strategy is, keep vaguely talking up the great new powers that will be granted to Scotland (powers that somehow didn't make it into the Calman Bill), if the voters will just oblige by voting away their only bargaining chip first.  Meanwhile, insist on a single question, and keep fingers securely crossed.
       
      Well, perhaps Cameron isn't that daft.  He's just in a no-win situation on the second question and is taking the line that seems least bad under the circumstances.  Taylor either doesn't get it at all, or is such a committed unionist that he's refraining from pointing out what's going on, and asking Cameron any hard questions.

    43. douglas clark says:

      I am coming around to the view that Cameron couldn't care less if we went off on our own. I do not think he is exercised by our passing out of the Union. Indeed, he has been more or less silent since Troon, has he not? If I were advised by a lot of money bags from the City of London then I probably couldn't care less either. He probably looked at the assembled might of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party at their annual pre-obituary meeting and gave up.
      I very much doubt there will be a devo-anything option on the ballot paper. Simply because Middle England wouldn't wear it, and frankly, given the total lies they have been told, it would be remarkable if they did. We don't need concessions, we need autonomy.
       
       
       

    44. ayemachrihanish says:

      Longshanker – no is the answer to your question? Though I'm intrigued as to what the alternative might be. I've a 21 century marriage and a gaggle of young kids – all female – so any reshuffling of the pack that provides "any" sort respite – bring it on! 

    45. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @LongshankerSneeky boy addressed the subject of NATO as a made up issue to divide the independence camp.
      NO – I said that real issues were going to be blown out of proportion by having wedges driven into them by the Anti-Independence Parties.

    46. douglas clark says:

      ayemachrihanish
       
      Apparently Longshanker has discovered an old wives tale about Macrihanish. You have got to admire his research although his conclusions are iffy.
      The story goes that unhappy couples in Macrihanish met at midnight and formed circles of men and women. They, err, circulated. And whomesover you faced was, at the very least, your partner for a year. This was viewed by Victorians as unChristian.
      I have no idea whether this is true or not. I suspect it is just a myth. But Longshanker brings it up as if it were true, and as a questionmark about  you.
      He is a sad, sad, man.
       
       

    47. Arbroath1320 says:

      Oh My God!
      Longshanker is bringing out the "Line in the sand" again.
      Now this raises a very important question. Is this "Line in the sand" :
      a) BEFORE Ruth Davidson's line in the sand?
      b) the SAME line in the sand as Ruth Davidson's line in the sand?
      c) FURTHER away than Ruth Davidson's line in the sand?
      d) on a different beach entirely to the beach that has Ruth Davidson's line in the sand?
      e) a figment of David Cameron's imagination?
      f) a figment of longshankers imagination?

    48. douglas clark says:

      I vote for f)
       

    49. ayemachrihanish says:

       Grateful for the enlightenment Douglas …

    50. Macart says:

      Arb
       
      It may be the line in the sand on a building site. Oh wait now….. Westminster doesn't believe in shovel ready capital investment outside of the Olympic Village. It might be a line in the sand of the long jump. 

    51. Arbroath1320 says:

      Just had a supplimentary thought about the "line in the sand". Is the line straight or wavy? If iy is straight then obviously options a to f above apply, However, what if the line in the sand is wavy? How do we differentiate good old D.C.'s line in the sand from the lines in the sand created by the natural workings of the sea, or those of a drunk on a Saturday night? Oh wait a minute maybe D.C.'s line in the sand is drawn by the drunk on a Saturday night.:D

    52. Macart says:

      Is that the same guy who comes up wi their fiscal policies? 🙂
       
      Nice piece of work by Mr Minto above, by the by. His lectures on the Guardian site's Scottish stories are first class.

    53. Arbroath1320 says:

      WHAT?
      They have policies as well! 😀
      OH MY GOD!
      Will wonders never cease?
      What next Labour producing their own policies instead of rehashed SNP policies, surely not!

    54. Macart says:

      Well they call they call them policies but basically its just the one. 'You give us all your cash and we'll invest it wisely in London'. I mean you can't say fairer than that, could you? We need London to be the thriving beating heart of, of, of………. Heeeey, wait yoooooze!
      Labour have policies too. They just happen to be copies of everyone elses.

    55. Longshanker says:

      @Morag

      Yup. I understand the gist of the inherent problems of a 2nd question. The Sun King is indeed a canny and formidable politician. That's why, I find it hard, to the point of impossible, to believe that he's willing to stake his political career on a Yes vote without a fallback. Though it does look increasingly likely that he'll have no choice given the statement by Bullingdon Dave at the Tory conference. I think the Firstminster was outmaneuvered there.

      I would genuinely like to see the Sun King continue as the leader of the SNP should independence fail. If it does, I think his cards are marked and he's a mostly dead duck. Which would be a pity.

      @ ayemachrihanish

      A couple of stiff whisky's sometimes provides respite. I'm sure you know that already. Another poster hit the nail on the head with the 13/14th century story. I was in Machrihanish last month and saw the marriage rites legend on a storyboard at the beach and it tickled me.

      @Scott Minto

      I agree with you that the average voter probably doesn't give a fig about NATO. But it is a real issue and it will have to be dealt with. Lallands Peat Worrier's latest blog covers it. As I said in the original post, the SNP have to signal to the world (America?) the intentions of a new independent state; Realpolitik aka Professor Chalmers.

      The Labour party had to face a similar dilemma under Trustme Blair as well – can't remember when it was though. But it did cause division in the ranks. Timing, for dealing with it, could be key in the SNP case – it might lose a few vital percentage points cum the referendum.

    56. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @ Longshanker:
      No-one says it is not a real issue.  The question is however can you do anything about it.  Not if you are tied to Westminster you cant.
       
      Do you want a decision on keeping or removing Nato?
      Do you want a decision on the Monarchy?
      Do you want a decision on Energy Policy?
      Do you want a decision on the make up of Scotland Military?
      Do you want a decision on Welfare and Pensions in Scotland?
       
      If the answer to any of these is YES, then you will not get what you want as part of the UK.
       
      VOTE YES TO INDEPENDENCE TO GET THE POWER OF CHOICE BACK FROM WESTMINSTER.
       
      Then in 2015 we can all happily argue away on the pro's and con's of each appraoch, secure in the knowledge that we have to power to have our elected leaders act upon the concensus.

    57. Longshanker says:

      @Scott Minto
      Aside from the NATO option, the other issues could possibly wait until after an independence declaration.
       
      On NATO though, I would argue that for independence to have any chance of becoming a reality the signal must go out that Scotland could be relied on to stay within the organisation. Otherways it risks the ire of the international community – Prof Chalmers again I know – and could be used as a REAL psychological  weapon of fear by the opponents of independence.
       
      If the SNP took that gamble I'd wager the Unholy alliance camp could unite around it to blow the chances of independence out of the water. Even I wouldn't like to see that.
       
      That's why I think the SNP HAVE been briefing on a potential/probable change in their manifesto. The BBC, no matter how biassed you think it is re Independence, wouldn't report on a potential change unless there was some kind of substance behind it – eyes and ears everywhere so to speak. I'd assume the source was the SNP itself – Angus Robertson is the name given attribution elsewhere.
       
      Your NATO section quote mentioned how similar the Labour and Conservative rhetoric sounded, it was probably derived from the same source – Professor Chalmers.
      No matter how some nationalists would like to write that piece off, its points and arguments cannot be ingored.
       
       

    58. Shodan says:

      Don't waste time on Longshanker. He's just another shoddy poisonous troll in the Captain Caveman mould. It's so bad you'd think they were one and the same with simply a new coat of paint. Like almost all trolls you'll never get anywhere trying to be reasonable or debate with him. He'll simply trot out the same old rubbish to stir the put and scuttle off or spew out more childish insults when backed into a corner with counter arguments. RevStu has played along with his astonishing patience several times. So the troll has been given countless chances to behave otherwise and failed to break the habit.
       
      Simply ignore him as feeding the trolls does no good. If you give them attention they'll only keep acting the goat instead of getting a decent hobby or listening to his better half and finishing the chores he's putting off.

    59. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      For my money Cameron is playing a dangerous game of betting the family silver and the title deeds on the roll of a dice.

      He would only  so, unless he is an idiot and I am not sure about that, if  he has a workable alternative which offers at least the same yield, or even more.
       
      I wonder if the SNP are not now building for him a Golden Bridge for him to retreat back over.
       
      Assuming a number of things can be put in place by the SNP,  Scotland staying in the Sterling zone and a , say, ten year moratorium in getting his toy subs a home in Mother England, fracked gas onstream, oil flowing from offshore Falklands and the big prize
       
      A two party state, red and blue based on the US Democreat and Republican model with minir differences in policy and everything levered by way of spin and lies.
       
      Miliband would buy into it and Clegg has already detroyed the LibDems so, only Scotland could bugger up this scenario.
       

    60. Angus McLellan says:

      Longshanker, the international community – read the USA – is quite unlikely to give two fucks whether an independent Scotland is in or out of NATO.
      For the USA and NATO it would be an inconvenience – but no more than that – if the bombing range at RAF Tain were not available. It would be an irritation – at worst – if live-fire exercises couldn't be put on around Cape Wrath. And it would be annoying if the seismic array on Eskdalemuir were no longer available for monitoring compliance with nuclear test ban treaties. That's it.
      Unlike in the '70s, there's no US presence at the Holy Loch or Errol to be a concern and Machrahanish is no longer part of US military or NASA plans. Scotland was an important part of US and NATO plans in the event of a war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. We are a geopolitical irrelevance today when the most credible – but not necessarily all that credible – threats come from China, Iran and North Korea.
      Of course there would be scare stories. There always are. On any subject. So what? Scotland doesn't need NATO because there is no credible military threat that we need protecting from.
      Not convinced?  Try reading the UK's National Security Strategy document or the Strategic Defence and Security Review.  And the view isn't any different from small countries. The Danish Defence Intelligence Service's 2011 Risk Assessment is out there – http://fe-ddis.dk/eng/Products/Pages/TheDDISIntelligenceRiskAssessment2011.aspx – and the New Zealand and Australian ones are too. The domestic threats they do identify – terrorism, international crime, &c – are law and order matters. Homeland security, as the Americans call it, is the priority rather than military defence.

    61. Captain Caveman says:

      "Don't waste time on Longshanker. He's just another shoddy poisonous troll in the Captain Caveman mould. It's so bad you'd think they were one and the same with simply a new coat of paint. "
       
       
      Oh do shut up with the totally unprovoked abuse – trolling if ever there was, ironically. No doubt the irony of this is entirely lost on you, but in fact you’re the troll here, as evidenced above.
       
      No, we're not one and the same, obviously – just two separate people who (vainly) try/tried to seek mature, adult debate. In my own case, I naively assumed that the people with whom as was having the discussion actually knew what a "premise" was (especially since I took the trouble to define the term for them, as was clearly needed, but to no avail) – or indeed what a "title" was, come to that?
       
      The implication of the said premise of the title to that piece was entirely clear to me, as I pointed out – it was, and is, totally ridiculous to claim that the humour of “The English”, taken en masse, equates to derisory comments about the Scots being dolites or whatever it was. Especially when the supposed justification for this premise is some minor, totally obscure (and I might add, entirely misunderstood) article of The Daily Telegraph; as if this can somehow be conflated to mean the supposed humour of the entire English Nation of some 50 million souls. Talk about a chip on the shoulder!
       
      Of course, I don’t actually believe that anyone would actually think that, since to do so would be ridiculous. Which leads me to suspect that the only other possibility was to stir up precisely the same kind of reaction as that Telegraph piece did – namely to do exactly the same thing? Which is why I called BS on it, not that I’m going to go off in a huff, thinking this is the supposed “Humour of the Scottish” either… go figure.
       
      In Longshanker’s case, he is vainly trying to make perfectly well reasoned, polite points, but all he’s getting is mocking, provocative abuse, because that’s pretty much all you lot can do in the face of perfectly well intentioned, articulate opposition. From where I’m standing though, that makes you look ridiculous – not him.

    62. Longshanker says:

      @ Angus McLellan
      This is a quote from the Chalmers piece:
      "The reaction of US opinion, in particular, would be likely to be hostile, with potentially serious consequences for Scotland’s hopes of a smooth transition to being recognised as a ‘normal’ member of the international community of states."
       
      I know the expertise that professor Chalmers has – what's yours?
      All these wee annoyances and irritations you mention – death of a thousand cuts? Potential loser of a good few thousand votes?
      Quebec lost out in it's last independence vote by around 54,000 votes in 1995. I don't think Sun King Salmond could afford to earn the ire of the USA establishment or people. It would probably cost more than 54,000 votes if he did.
       
      @Captain Caveman
      I'm a native Scot, born and bred, and I live here too. I wish I had a quid for every time some poster or troll or nationalist or whatever they call themselves, called me anti-Scots or English or Unionist as an intended insult. I'm late to this game, at first it raised my dander, now it's water off of a duck's back.
       
      Irony does indeed seem to be in another stratosphere for a lot of these guys. But hey ho, occasionally, somebody does come up with something that makes me change my mind or look at things differently on a particular topic.
       
      I assume you're English. I know RevStu's feelings regarding your posting, previous history, whatever. I for one would welcome more posts from you if they're of the same quality as evidenced in the Famed English sense of humour debate. You made me heartily laugh, while wholeheartedly agreeing with your points, and that's unusual for a lot of these comment forums.
       

    63. Angus McLellan says:

      Longshanker, It's not so much what I would know, or what Chalmers would know, more a case of what Robert Gates would know. After all, he was formerly the man in charge at the Pentagon. Here's a report on his final speech before he stepped down last summer: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/gates-blasts-nato/2011/06/10/AGBf6HPH_video.html
      Based on that report, does it sound like the Americans are going to come riding to Ian Smart's rescue? Whether Gates is right or wrong, it's easy enough to find Americans saying the same sort of things as Gates, often in a less measured way. Finding that evidence is left as an exercise in Google Fu or Bing Shui for the reader.

    64. douglas clark says:

      I'd have thought the decisions on the future of NATO would not be impacted one iota by our referendum. Geo-political fighting men no longer see the Atlantic front as anything other than a backwater. It is hard to envisage circumstances where that would change. To a great extent, democracy has won that battle and the new front is Asia. In Asia, things are going well in the overall campaign. Elsewhere North Africa has seen an Arab Spring.
      So, who exactly are we supposed to be frightened of? The two newest members of the nuclear club – assuming North Korea still can't get it's missiles to work – are India and Pakistan. They are too busy staring each other down that I personally doubt they have either the inclination nor the capability to point a rocket at the UK.
      The world is changing quite rapidly.
      Scotland is a geo-political backwater in that game. Long may it continue. Could we just get on with our lives without inventing problems we don't actually have?
       
       
       

    65. Longshanker says:

      @Angus McLellan

      Thanks for the link. The only conclusion I take from the report though is that America wants Europe to shoulder more of the NATO budget and military commitment.

      In effect, Gates appears to be sending a warning that if Europe doesn't contribute more it could lead to the break up of NATO.

      So I don't see how it adds to  your argument or indeed, in any way, contradicts the quote I posted from Prof Chalmers.

      I didn't read all of the PDF doc on Denmark's military strategy you linked to, but one significant part, which certainly seems to reinforce the NATO argument put forth by Chalmers, is the opening up of the Arctic – potential new trade routes and resources up for grabs etc. There's common military and economic interest there for several NATO countries.

      I know points and arguments drift, so I'll remind you that the initial premise of my argument is that Scotland has to signal – pre independence – where it stands on NATO. That's why I believe the SNP could be in for a potentially rough ride given their previous manifesto commitment.

      Thanks again for the links, they've certainly added to my knowledge, but they haven't convinced me of your viewpoint.
       
       

    66. Cynicus says:

      “The legendary Greek writer Aesop……..”
      Poor Aesop finds himself conscripted into both armies.  Here is a unionist take:

      http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/all/7836238/ancient-and-modern-aesop-on-alex-salmond.thtml 

       

    67. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Cynicus – The moral of that particular Aesop fable is this that we cannot hope to attain impossible things, and it is of no use to try. But that merely shows the ignorance of the writer by stating that Scottish independence is Impossible, which is against the very real issue of a referendum, before going on as all dutiful unionists do, to say that:

      “Salmond, in fact, looks more and more like a wannabe leader of those useless Caledonian tribes that Romans decided were not worth the effort of flattening, largely because they had nothing Rome wanted”,
      or to be more precise – Too wee, too poor, too stupid.

      But as arguments go, it is an oxymoron… we will fight to keep you because it is not worth the effort of flattening “tiny but heroic Scotland (5 million) and its plucky welfare dependents”, and you have nothing of value… except your resources. 

      The article is of the ‘jilted lover mentallity’ that is oozing through the main stream media at present. Personally, I loved it for its unashamed admission of the loathing directed towards Scotland and the Scots People.

      It is honest in lifting the veil on the contempt with which we are held by an increasingly London-centric plutocracy and media. I would have it framed and sent to all households with a note attached saying “Pride costs nothing, Vote YES!”



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