I unfortunately caught a bit of Reporting Scotland yesterday. Scotland’s economy “failed to grow” in the first quarter of the year, because low oil prices put “a real spanner in the works”; unemployment was down, but so was the UK’s as a whole, so it isn’t that big a deal; yesterday’s thunderstorms cause transport problems, which naturally means economic chaos. Money, money, money. The price of everything, the value of nothing. This, concurrent with much crowing from British Nationalists as they contort George Kerevan MP’s statement about an independent Scotland needing to “cut its budget coat to fit its fiscal means” – surely a metaphor that could just as easily substitute “cut” for “tailor” or “alter” – into some sort of tacit admission that Better Together were right all along.
Then I learned about exactly how much money the BBC gains from Scottish license fees, and how much it spends here.
That the BBC faces an existential crisis in the event of Scottish Independence is one thing: you could argue that even if the UK as we understand it now ceases to exist, the actual island of Great Britain would still be there. But here, we see exactly what the BBC thinks of Scotland – and how much it is willing to put back into Scotland. Scots contribute £320.1 million, only to get £98.1 million spent on “local content” – that is, Scottish content.
Bear with me for a moment while I talk about a weird internet series, and how it relates to the state of the BBC today.
So goes the meme, that about a quarter of people recorded as voting Yes in 2014 are estimated to have voted Leave in 2016. I don’t know why British nationalists are so triumphant about it: do they think that quarter of Yes voters are going to vote for the UK over the EU or something? Evidently a fair amount of them must be independence supporters who thought that voting Leave would bring their goal of independence closer to reality.
Now whatever could have given them that idea?
Four people are in a bar. They make a decision over what to do next, agreeing that they do it as a cohesive unit in a democratic manner. Two vote to leave: the other two vote to remain. One of those people is several times larger than the other three people combined. This person then says that because they’re that much larger than the other three, they have a much larger say in what the group should do. Since they want to leave, that means the two who want to remain have to leave as well.
Hardly seems fair, right? Doesn’t seem like much of a cohesive unit at all, does it? It almost seems more like the biggest person will always get their way, regardless of what the other three want.
The Lion banner sways and falls in the horror-haunted gloom;
A scarlet Dragon rustles by, borne on winds of doom.
In heaps the shining horsemen lie, where the thrusting lances break,
And deep in the haunted mountains, the lost, black gods awake.
Dead hands grope in the shadows, the stars turn pale with fright,
For this is the Dragon’s Hour, the triumph of Fear and Night.
– Robert E. Howard
I became reacquainted with the works of Robert E. Howard around the time I had my first vote: around the time Britain went to war.
Today, I recall one of Howard’s greatest works, and one of his only novels: The Hour of the Dragon. It’s a tale markedly different from many other Conan tales beyond its length – it is imbued with mythic and folkloric meaning, from Arthur to the Fisher King and even Scottish history. It’s been theorised that Howard may have been tapping into those traditions to appeal to a new market, drawing more strongly on those elements than the frontier adventures, oriental escapes, desert songs and jungle legends that marked Conan’s usual climes. Whatever the case, it’s a tale that had a profound effect on me – politically as well as philosophically.
Some eejit said “places with high leave votes were also where large numbers voted yes in 2014 indyref.” While Libby Brooks gamely attempts to rationalise this by referring to districts within local authorities, the only verifiable statistics deal with local authorities. I, like Ms Brooks, was at both counts (Inverclyde in my case, naturally) so I can provide anecdotal evidence too – but that’s all it is. All we have to go on are local authority counts, and unless we actually make a point of breaking down the counts by smaller districts (which I would be entirely favourable towards, particularly if broken down into Immediate Geographies) votes subdivided by local authority is the best we have. In any case, this statement follows previous witterings where the High Heidjit compared the Yes Campaign with the Leave Campaign, a comparison that demeans all Scots.
Nonetheless, I think it’ll be interesting to look at a few of the local authorities in question, and see what we can see.
You can vote in this referendum if you are registered to vote in the UK, are 18 or over on 23 June 2016 and are:
- A British or Irish citizen living in the UK, or
- A Commonwealth citizen living in the UK who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK
- A British citizen living overseas who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years
- An Irish citizen living overseas who was born in Northern Ireland and who has been registered to vote in Northern Ireland in the last 15 years
If you are an EU citizen you are not eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, unless you meet the criteria above.
– from About My Vote
I remember us independence supporters being told, ordered, demanded, to “respect the result” of the referendum. It was, after all, the democratic mandate of the people of Scotland, the greatest engagement of the electorate since universal suffrage, the highest turnout of any plebiscite on these isles. There’s little else we could do – little else we could conceive of doing – since it essentially proved the point pro-independence Scots have been striving to make for decades. That is, that the people best served to decide what happens in Scotland are the people of Scotland. We may not have agreed with the results, but if there was a silver lining to pro-independence supporters, it’s that the precedent has been set – the only people who could secure or prevent independence are the people of Scotland themselves.
This referendum, though – the European Union referendum – is a different matter. Why should we respect it, when everything about it is so unworthy of respect?
Scotlandball’s currently hiding under UKball’s sweet hat. He’ll be let out once UKball flounces off in a huff.
Already Project Fear: The Revenge is back in action. We’re being inundated with claims from Thatcherite think-tank members about how the UK’s appalling mismanagement of Scotland means that if nothing changed after independence, then we’d be Greece without the sun. We’re seeing Leavers scoffing at “experts” for their portents of doom and gloom in the event of the UK leaving the EU nodding their heads vigorously as those same individuals predict disaster if Scotland leaves the UK. We’re watching as the BBC has the unmitigated brass neck to ask “what about the currency/borders/uncertainty” of an independent Scotland during the greatest period of economic uncertainty the UK has been in for decades.
Both Leave and Remain campaigners and politicians are now rounding in on Scotland, trying to convince us once again that being out of the UK would make us worse off, even as they tear us out of the EU against our collective sovereign will. What’s worse, they’re trying to pretend that our First Minister’s pleas for the EU not to let Scotland down have fallen on deaf ears – that the sovereign will of the people of Scotland counts for as little in Europe as it does in the UK. They wouldn’t shut up about our sovereign will in 2014: why, then, are they so eager to ignore it now? Why do we seem to have no friends in our own media?
Luckily, we have friends to back us up elsewhere: friends who may be wildly divergent from Scotland on political, cultural, economic and social grounds, but nonetheless believe in our right to be part of their community. This post will serve as a repository to counter the endless lurid headlines threatening ruin and crisis and failure for the people of Scotland should they have the audacity to do what so many Brexiteers wanted for the UK, yet not Scotland.