The Day It Became Truly Real

DarlingGreenock

(Fair warning, this is the angriest post I think I’ve done. Just so you know…)

Alistair Darling came to Greenock today. The town of my birth, where I spend many of my days, which is as familiar to me as anything I can think of. He came here, to spread his message. He came here.

He came here with his big vans. “I love my family. I’m saying No Thanks.” “I love Scotland. I’m saying No Thanks.” We love our kids. We’re saying No Thanks.” You’d be hard-pressed to write a more implicitly chilling threat. “You love Scotland, don’t you? You love your family? Then you’ll vote No, won’t you? If you love Scotland, and you love your family, then you want what’s best for them. You don’t want to see harm come to them. You don’t want something… unpleasant to happen to them. So you’ll vote No. There’s a good voter.”

It’s not an argument. It’s not even a meaningless platitude. It’s a ransom note.

Jim Murphy came to Gourock a while back. I missed him, and frankly, I’m glad I did, given the nonsense which has come to pass in recent days. But while I despise the things Jim Murphy has said and done, I couldn’t see the point in bothering. He’s a Scottish MP, after all, whose influence is a fraction of the mere 5% of power Scottish MPs have in Parliament, and currently part of the opposition, so not even in government. He’s irrelevant.

George Galloway is coming to Greenock. I will not be going to his meeting, and I urge all Yes voters to do exactly the same – like all trolls, Galloway gains sustenance from attention. I will happily withhold that from him, starve him of his cravings. He’s a Scottish MP, after all, but as a representative of East Bradford, his influence is even less than the fraction of the mere 5% of power Scottish MPs have in Parliament, and as a member of Respect, not even in opposition to the government, let alone actually in government. He’s irrelevant.*

Alistair Darling is a different thing altogether: not because he has any more power than the other two, not because he has any influence, but for something altogether more personal. There are certainly plenty of despicable figures in the campaign, for which I hold a special level of disgust: Anas Sarwar and his complete inability to tell the truth; Margaret Curran and her frighteningly callous attitude to the First Minister’s life; Ian Davidson and his enthusiasm to impoverish his own constituents. But Alistair Darling is one who I cannot help but truly hate.

This is because I hold Alistair Darling personally responsible for everything which happened since the banking crisis. In September of 2007, a bank run on Northern Rock started. The first time there had been a run on a British Bank in almost 150 years. The UK banking industry was already suffering a liquidity crisis due to the lack of regulation combined with a mortgage crisis in the United States, and thus, it was unable to borrow to cover its liabilities. It was a grave situation. The bank was going to collapse. Alistair Darling faced a choice: should he allow the bank to fail, or should he act to stop it?

Alistair Darling chose to act – by not only authorizing the Bank of England to lend funds to Northern Rock, but by providing an unqualified taxpayer’s guarantee of saver’s deposits. In short, Alistair Darling chose to funnel billions in public money to save the skin of a private company. As a result, the UK’s already huge debt rocketed to astronomic levels. This led the way to a huge crisis of confidence in Labour, already reeling from the Iraq War and the Data Protection scandal, allowing the Conservatives to sweep in – and Darling’s actions gave them the excuse they needed to tighten the grip of Austerity. Welfare reform, the Health & Social Care Act, the privatisation of the Royal Mail and NHS – the massive deficit & debt provided the excuse to devastate public spending under the lie of Austerity, the idea that there is nothing else in the UK’s budget which could possibly be cut to alleviate the UK’s horrendous debt. Labour started it, and the Conservatives capitalised.

The Austerity Lie“We are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending. It also means something more profound. It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.”

Austerity is only tolerated because the vast majority of people don’t seem to realise what a complete and utter lie it is. Food banks are no longer viewed as a travesty in a supposedly first-world country, they’re just another type of charity. The grotesque injustice of secret courts, extradition and rejection of human rights aren’t abominations, they’re “just part of life now.” Whenever I am asked to sum up why I’m voting Yes in a single sentence or paragraph, I always come back to this simple, inescapable reality of the United Kingdom as it is now:

The United Kingdom is a state where the 1,000 richest citizens earned £155 billion thanks to tax cuts,** while the 900,000 poorest are forced to use foodbanks, all while those richest 1,000’s friends in government claim that “we’re all in this together.”

Austerity is a lie, and remaining in the UK will continue to feed it. And Alistair Darling gave the architects of Austerity all they needed to make it happen. This is why I reserve such burning resentment for Alistair Darling – not because he is inherently evil, but because he has enabled it.

Despite the obvious inclination to view Yes and No as opposing forces, I prefer to think more as a spectrum. Yes Scotland have a handy wee graphic, where a prospective voter places their inclination for or against independence on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “I don’t think Scotland should be an independent country,” 10 being “Scotland definitely should be an independent country.” So rather than No being opposites, I view it as a gradient from 1 to 10. It makes talking with No voters far more relaxing to me, as I’m fully confident that everyone is capable of moving along that scale – and precedent has shown that it’s very much a one-way street. Hence how I can have perfectly temperate conversations with staunch No-voters – they aren’t the enemy, they’re on the same scale as me or you or anyone else, just on different ends. If there is an enemy here, it’s Westminster, not my fellow Scots. I can laugh and joke with people on “the other side.”

But the reality of a No vote is something far more serious. And, to go all William Lloyd Garrison, I am going to speak without moderation, for I truly believe in what I’m going to say. It something that actually frightens me as I contemplate it. And that is this:

To vote No to independence is to vote to enable, facilitate and encourage evil.

Hyperbolic? Understand I’m not necessarily talking about some quasi-religious, supernatural Spirit of Evil here: no Chernabog atop Bald Mountain, no moustache-twirling Hades, but the terribly banal, mundane sort of evil which we’ve seen time and time again. Evil is not something people are – Evil is something people do. People are not good or evil – people do good or evil. And much evil is being done by the UK government, its allies, its servants – and we are all contributing to it.

Consider: the UK government’s policies have been underwritten by North Sea Oil for decades***, and by Scottish revenue before its discovery. Ergo, Scots have contributed their money to all the decisions made by the UK. When the UK government embarked upon the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Scottish oil revenue paid for it. All the cover-ups were facilitated by the money we pay. Every bullet put into the skull of a human being in another country whose only crime was being in the wrong place and the wrong time was put there with Scottish money.

We cannot change this as part of the UK, otherwise we could have changed it already. The UK’s socialist period in the immediate postwar years proved to be an anomaly for the British state, for within a few decades, it reverted to type: class division, racial scapegoating, and vast inequality. There’s a reason World War I is lionised – it’s because it was the last war where class division was still considered proper and right, where people knew their place. All that Red Clydeside nonsense was soon snuffed out. We cannot change Westminster – but we can stop enabling it.

With a Yes vote, we can stop sending billions of Scottish taxes to Westminster, knowing that it will be spent on weapons of mass destruction, illegal wars, immoral legislation, and silencing appalling scandals. It won’t stop war, it won’t stop evil – but at least we will stop contributing to it. And if an independent Scotland’s government does evil, we will be in a position to take it to account – something that simply cannot be done within the United Kingdom.

You can choose not to buy products from an evil company that operates in your country. You can choose to avoid the work of an evil artist that performs in your country. But only a Yes vote can ensure you do not pay tax to an evil government that runs your country. And for all the good the UK government has done in the past, there is no question of the breadth and depravity of the evil it has done over the centuries. I do not want a single pound of my taxes to go on the toxic white elephant at Faslane, not a penny to go to illegal wars, not a scratch to facilitate massive tax bonuses to the rich while the poor starve and freeze – and I will be damned if they are going to force me to choose between funding that government and leaving the land I love.

All this occurred to me when Alistair Darling came to Greenock. He represents everything I find hateful and loathesome about Westminster. And as a Labour MP, he represents the true horror: that it doesn’t matter whether Labour or the Conservatives get in, for the result will always be the same. How many more people are going to suffer and die while we wait for England to wake up? Only by depriving the UK of its oxygen do we have a chance to change things.

No voters are not evil. Voting No is not evil. But voting No is voting to allow evil to continue governing our lives. It is a vote that ensures every millionaire who received a tax break while pensioners freeze to death in an oil-rich country had their pockets lined, in part, by us. It is a vote that ensures every person who died within six months of losing their disability benefits was facilitated, in part, by us. It is a vote that ensures that every bullet that takes an innocent’s life was paid for, in part, by us. Voting no is hoping the thug who beat you into this life-threatening condition will show some sort of mercy on you. Independence is not a panacea to cure all ills: it is CPR, a morphine injection, a shock from a defibrillator. A fighting chance to bring our broken soul back from the brink of oblivion.

*Many thanks to the comments pointing out Mr Galloway being Scottish and an MP, but not one of the 59 MPs for a Scottish constituency, hopefully the paragraph is clearer now.

**Thanks to Stefan for prompting the clarification, see comments.

***Thanks to Tim Ward for prompting the clarification, see comments.

107 thoughts on “The Day It Became Truly Real

  1. Paula Rose says:

    Readership reflects your brilliant prose, this will be Mama Puffin’s Blog of the Day on the facebook page UKOK tomorrow xx

  2. Radweesis says:

    “How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” – William Shakespeare. Writing of this calibre will always “throw its beams” and help us challenge the evil deeds of Westminster government. Please keep writing.

  3. going from strengh to strengh Taranach, keep it up

  4. David says:

    Thank you for this excellent article. My dictionary tells me I should be calling it a “polemic” but I think directed anger would describe it equally well.
    After I saw the pics of the billboards on Monday, with the info that they were in Greenock, I was almost gleeful, sniggering to myself, thinking “just wait till Taranaich finds out, I really want to see what he makes of this event in his part of the world. Cannae wait!”
    Boy oh boy you have delivered. Not the article I was expecting, but something much better – cooler, in control, showing your determination to expose what the real effect of a NO vote would be.
    You are right, it gets personal when it happens, not just in your country, but in your own town, your own bloody back yard.
    I’m not in Scotland, so I have to hope that the likes of you, Wings, WeeGingerDug, and so on can keep turning out the words – words that will inspire and motivate enough people for YES to win on September 18th.

    I want a country to come back to, a country to be proud of. Thank you for helping to achieve this.

  5. CC-G says:

    This is a great article wish I had written it – It makes it so clear why it has to be a yes vote.

  6. […] The Day It Became Truly Real | A Wilderness of Peace. (Fair warning, this is the angriest post I think I’ve done. […]

  7. It’s good to gain a different perspective on an existing problem.

  8. Iainf says:

    George Galloway isn’t a Scottish MP: he’s an English MP (Bradford West) who happens to be a Scot.

    • alharron says:

      Of course, I know that! 🙂 However, in my desire to have a bit of repitition in my prose, I inadvertently placed him as an “MP representing a Scottish constituency,” which he most certainly is not (not for his want of trying, of course). I shall edit, thank you!

  9. Paul Fraser says:

    Poison to the mind… Did they said that they love their retiring parents wose pension will be slashed? Did they said that they love their kids because tuition fees will have to be reinstated? Did they said that they love disabled who killed themselves due to the disastrous Unionist policies lately voted? Did they said they love democracy with the unelected Lords Chamber taking real decisions stripping Scotland’s powers?… That’s a joke… If No wins, the No voters will be having blood in their hands too!!!

  10. rgweir. says:

    Excellent piece of writing.

  11. Debbie says:

    Reblogged this on Life in the Timber House and commented:
    “We cannot change Westminster – but we can stop enabling it.”

  12. Tin Tin says:

    One of the best statements yet mate!

  13. Tin Tin says:

    May I use that photo.. a lot of people do not believe that those posters exist

    • alharron says:

      Of course! I only found it on Twitter. If I was nearby I would’ve taken a photo myself, but I felt ensuring unregistered voters got on the electoral roll was more important than giving Darling any attention.

  14. Rich says:

    What’s your thoughts on RBS and the £163billion required to save it from going under? I only ask because I’m quite sure you’re aware of Alex’s endorsements to the acquisition of Dutch lender ABN Amro which was apparently the root cause of the big problems – note root cause not the entire cause.

    As an undecided, it just seems that none of the rhetoric ever makes mention of the RBS situation and it fair to say that the Union relationship really helped in this instance. You did of course note Northern Rock so it seems a little misinformed to note mention RBS.

    • alharron says:

      Thanks for bringing it up, Rich, good food for thought. My thoughts are that RBS shouldn’t have been bailed out either. The Scottish contribution to RBS (despite its name, it’s a UK-wide bank which did the vast majority of its transactions in London) would have been £8.8 billion on a per capita basis. Mr Salmond’s endorsement of ABN is one of a number of things I do not share with him – same with the lower rate of corporation tax, his association with Murdoch, and a number of other things. To his credit, however, Mr Salmond has admitted he was wrong to back Fred Goodwin’s takeover – as with his stance on the pound, circumstances change. Darling still thinks he was right to bail out the banks.

      To elucidate my point more clearly: it isn’t so much about whether the banks should or shouldn’t have been bailed out – it’s that we as a country shouldn’t have allowed the banks to get to a position that their failure would wreck the economy to such a monstrous degree. By letting the banks grow “too big to fail,” we might as well have just handed over all our savings to them altogether. Bailing them out just tells them “don’t worry if you make a mistake, we’ll cover for you.” That’s why Panama’s banks are so trusted – nobody’s going to bail them out if they fail, so they are far more careful, and far more trustworthy.

      Nonetheless, I appreciate the comment. Regardless of my personal feelings on which way you vote, what’s important is that you vote at all, so I hope you come to a decision.

      • craig says:

        Great article. Only thing I don’t agree with is the “not bailing the banks out” bit. There was no other option but to. With our financial/monetary system if we had done that we’d all be homeless and out of work. The crime was bailing them out and not changing the system completely. Here’s a great film explaining what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcGh1Dex4Yo
        Fingers crossed one part of the system will change as of the 18th!!
        Yr Alban am byth!!!

      • alharron says:

        As was noted in another comment, there was indeed another way to bail out the banks *without crippling the public sector* via EU law – the fact that this was not the route taken speaks volumes. First of many things I hope to change.

  15. a cairns says:

    Grand Daughter said it all. Scotland for the Scots and those who wish to work and live here according to the laws of the land and not of the liebral minded who are leading Britain into self destruct mode.

  16. James says:

    So no Scottish soldiers will ever be involved in action the other country does not want, we will never bail out our own banks to direct benefit of their shareholders because the financial markets demand it or you cannot operate, we won’t be under nuclear umbrella, I mean come on…

    I’m voting yes but not because of this drivel.

    • alharron says:

      So no Scottish soldiers will ever be involved in action the other country does not want

      In an ideal world, yes, but I’ll happily settle for “no Scottish soldiers will be involved in illegal wars.”

      we will never bail out our own banks to direct benefit of their shareholders because the financial markets demand it or you cannot operate

      I’d rather we never bail out our own banks because they don’t need to be bailed out at all – I’d rather we had responsible banks that didn’t make reckless decisions to the point where an entire nation’s economy is threatened.

      we won’t be under nuclear umbrella

      We’ll still be part of NATO like the 25 nations that don’t have nuclear weapons (unless we have a referendum on going out, which I would actually support). But if you mean no nuclear deterrent, well, the vast majority of countries in the world seem to be getting by fine without them.

      I’m voting yes but not because of this drivel.

      Hey, I’m just thriled you’re voting yes! If you disagree, that’s great, we’ll sort that out after the referendum. I’m just glad you took the time to comment, I appreciate it.

  17. Steve Saunders says:

    Brilliantly written and tragically true.

  18. tinytones says:

    One little thing… George Galloway isn’t a Scottish MP, well he is Scottish and an MP, but not in Scotland. He an MP in Bradford, which last time I checked was in England, so he is even less relevant than Murphy, as Galloway literally has no stake, Murphy will lose his job come independence and he has a vote. Galloway, doesn’t even have a vote (unless he lives neither in his constituency nor in London, the city of UK parliament)

    • alharron says:

      I’m aware of Mr Galloway’s constituency: a bit of poetic license gone awry on my part, alas, since as Grant later notes, I was going for a bit of repitition, and inadvertently lumped him in with the “MPs that represent Scottish constituencies” pile. In his dreams, I suppose. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, though.

  19. Grant says:

    Just a note – Galloway is Scottish and an MP, but not a Scottish MP or part of the 5% we represent, he represents Bradford. You’ve made a typo, repeating the Jim Murphy paragraph.

    “George Galloway is coming to Greenock. I will not be going to his meeting, and I urge all Yes voters to do exactly the same – like all trolls, Galloway gains sustenance from attention. I will happily withhold that from him, starve him of his cravings.
    ***”He’s a Scottish MP, after all, whose influence is a fraction of the mere 5% of power Scottish MPs have in Parliament, and currently part of the opposition, so not even in government. He’s irrelevant.***”

  20. RabCarswell says:

    In the above photo of the billboards you’ll notice that in the centre one headed “I love Scotland….”, to Darling’s left you will spot three local Labour politicians: MP Iain McKenzie,Provost Moran and Councillor Brennan grouped together, each waving their wee Saltire flags and pretending to be ‘ordinary people’. Will they be waving their wee Saltires at the next local Better Together public event? I think you know the answer to that one.

    • alharron says:

      I couldn’t quite make out anyone in enough detail for an easy identification, but on further review it appears you are correct. Mr Brennan taught history at my school, back when he was a teacher. I wish they would at least have the courage to fly the union flag.

  21. Laura Keenan says:

    I wish I could be more eloquent than this but I’ll edit slightly and say – Thank you! For a Fanfeckintastic blog! Couldn’t agree more!

  22. des says:

    Excellent Article. Ironic that the vans are parked about 7 miles across the clyde from the largest arsenal of Nukes in Western Europe. Disgusting Darling. Their arrogance will lose them this referendum. We are not stupid and they seem to think we are. Saor Alba – SOAR Alba!

  23. Graham says:

    A lot of hard working people would of lost there life savings if Northern Rock was left to go bust. My Mother, a pensioner, was one of them.

    • alharron says:

      And a lot of hard working people have lost their lives as a result of the UK government’s Austerity measures.

    • David says:

      I don’t think so, Graham, or at least not totally. There is a EU Deposit Guarantee Scheme that every bank account holder will be funded up to a maximum of approx 100 thousand Euros, if their bank goes bust. This applies to every bank in every EU country. The amount guaranteed was 20 thousand Euros up to 2008, then it was increased to 50 thousand Euros, then to 100 thousand Euros in about 2009. So, many regular depositors would have been ok if Northern Rock had been left to go to the wall. Millionaires, not so lucky! http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/bank/guarantee/index_en.htm

      The UK also has its own Financial Services Compensation Scheme:
      http://www.bbc.com/news/business-12099592
      Looks like this would have paid out about 30 thousand pounds to each Northern Rock depositor if the bank had failed:

      • stefan says:

        Millionaires tend to spread their money as they know they could fall victim to a failing bank so they would have been fine also. The irony is that the people who now have NRAM mortgages are not so lucky. They can’t move and get charged far too much interest.

        Not sure what the alternative is too austerity with the current public debt, you want to take out another credit card Alharron? Or print more money?

      • alharron says:

        If they can afford to give the 1,000 richest Britons a £155 billion tax cut and 3.5 billion on new war toys, I’m pretty sure they can find money from places other than the public purse to deal with the debt. Trident alone would knock a great chunk out.

  24. iona says:

    I know Greenock fairly well and saw it diminish from a hive of productivity to a cheap waterfront of service industries. While I agree with most of what the author refers to, I cannot agree that these people in Westminster are not evil. They are evil in thought word and deed and they do feed from and evil source of energy. They have no compassion and are capable of the most heinous deeds. They pat each other on the back and — they have no soul.

    • alharron says:

      Well to be fair, I would say that evil “thought, word and deed” does describe their actions – the problem is that as horrendous as their actions are, they are still human. Within every human is the capability for good AND evil – and the fact that these humans have done evil is even more terrible than if they knew nothing else.

    • GM says:

      It’s all a bit emotional this! Have to look at things through clear specs and throw the rose tinted ones away!

      • alharron says:

        Rose tinted spectacles are for the past: this is about the future. My specs are crystal clear as they look at what Westminster’s offering us.

  25. rosamacpherson says:

    Gives my soul sustenance. I would love to hear you deliver this live

  26. brilliant, best argument against the better together brigade I have read yet,if I was a “don’t Know yet ” this would have made my mind up,unfortunately as I am a Scot living in England I don’t get to vote.

  27. earthtracer says:

    I share your wrath.

  28. Dave McNicoll says:

    Until now I have been undecided. Reading this has made my decision easy, everything you state is everything I hate about any Westminster government. I will be voting YES.

  29. I am watching all this as a Scot living in the US. It is painful to hear all the moaning and complaining from the nationalists who think they have got it so bad under a UK government. I would love to get into the definition of evil you have and where you get it. If you think a new government ruled from Holyrood is really going to be morally superior to the one you have now then let’s have that discussion. It is not an apples to apples comparison as the UK has been around 300 years, but still would love to have the discussion. You cry social justice, but what do you actually do practically for the poor in Scotland I would appreciate hearing you on that. This is about self-interest end of story. If you think following Salmond is the wise way to go then all the best to you. Personally I think it is naieve and foolish. I don’t get a vote as an exile, but I wonder if I will get a passport ? Taxes will go up, poverty will increase, drunkeness and drug addictions and sexually transmitted diseases will continue, education costs will soar, business will suffer, but hey as long as we are independent from the English who cares eh? Back to the middle ages we go !

    • alharron says:

      It is painful to hear all the moaning and complaining from the nationalists who think they have got it so bad under a UK government.

      Sorry it’s so painful, Robert, but at least in the US you don’t get it daily, eh? That said, I am speaking as someone who has been affected personally by the decisions of the UK government, so I think I’m within my rights to speak about something that’s happening to me directly, no?

      I would love to get into the definition of evil you have and where you get it.

      Most dictionaries define evil as “morally wrong or bad; harmful; immoral.” Words which I’m happy to describe Westminster by.

      If you think a new government ruled from Holyrood is really going to be morally superior to the one you have now then let’s have that discussion.

      Holyrood has already proven to be morally superior for the simple fact that Holyrood has not enacted anything like the Health & Social Care Act of 2012, which explicitly absolves the state from any responsibility for the health and wellbeing of its citizens. What kind of country would make a law which clearly and unambiguously washes its hands of its own people?

      You cry social justice, but what do you actually do practically for the poor in Scotland I would appreciate hearing you on that.

      The Scottish government set aside £50 million from its already tight Scottish block grant specifically to mitigate the Bedroom Tax, which was hitting the very poorest of Scotland extremely hard. So that’s one thing – but since welfare is not a devolved issue, there really isn’t much else the Scottish government can do without Westminster’s permission.

      If you think following Salmond is the wise way to go then all the best to you. Personally I think it is naieve and foolish.

      I think it is naieve and foolish to think voting No will do anything but ensure more misery to come regardless of who’s in power. The Conservatives have more public spending cuts to come; Labour have promised to continue austerity and promise to be TOUGHER on benefits than the Tories; the Lib Dems have proven their complete lack of spine. The uncertainties of independence are as nothing compared to the certainties of the union.

      I wonder if I will get a passport ?

      If Malta can manage passports, I think Scotland can.

      Taxes will go up, poverty will increase, drunkeness and drug addictions and sexually transmitted diseases will continue, education costs will soar, business will suffer,

      As opposed to taxes, poverty, drunkenness, drug addictions, sexually transmitted diseases and education costs decreasing in the UK? I doubt they’ll even stay the same in the UK. And businesses were apparently going to collapse if we got devolution, according to the No campaign then. That didn’t happen. Why would it happen now?

      but hey as long as we are independent from the English who cares eh?

      The English are in this sorry mess too – they have it even worse, with tuition fees and privatised NHS to deal with on top of the cuts. This isn’t about independence from the English, it’s about independence from Westminster – a very different beast.

      All the same, even if you disagree with me, I appreciate the comment, Robert. Hopefully in the event of independence, you won’t have to put up with nationalist moaning for much longer!

    • Robert,
      I am a 6.5 month annual re-pat having worked / lived in Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Florida. I still have properties in the latter two states. As you should know – every state in the USA has far more autonomy than the ‘nation’ of Scotland. It seems, nice guy that you are, that you only have negative ‘bitter together’ (“Taxes will go up, poverty will increase, drunkeness and drug addictions and sexually transmitted diseases will continue, education costs will soar, business will suffer”) opinions of your former countryman. So why concern yourself over a Scottish passport? Hopefully if you have a successful career and life in the States, you may have a change of mindset, and return ‘home’ some day to help out.

      Alex.

  30. Steven says:

    Can I please ask who wrote this article????

    I’m a Greenock man myself. There’s a chane I might know you!

  31. David says:

    If you ever have a chance to read any of Hannah Arendt’s work on the “Banality of Evil” you are on the right track and you could draw a lot of parallels in what you are saying. Scotland needs to vote YES.

  32. GM says:

    There is so much lefty clap trap coming from Yes trying to sway people. Scotland CANNOT be a welfare state as it is now or it will go bankrupt! That is the harsh reality! Less public sector more innovation! That is what is going to be so hard if independent. Thatcher wiped out our core industries and since then we have had to become dependent on public sector jobs. This is not scaremongering, it’s FACT! People should be wary of this and be wary of the shortbread tin, skipping through the daisies while we ALL order our Porsches and Maseratis scenario the Yes people are conveying. Scotland has a a lot to do be fit for being independent and devo max is a good start. The more Salmond can’t blame Westminster the better. Then we would really have to show it’s a breeze to stand on our two feet, I know that Scotland can do it but we have many social issues which as we all know are scooped under the carpet by Yes.

    • alharron says:

      There is so much lefty clap trap coming from Yes trying to sway people.

      You’d better try Michael Fry or Wealthy Nation, then: no lefties there. In fact, if Scots wanted it, Scotland could be an absolute powerhouse under a right-wing government. The point is that the people of Scotland would choose the government of Scotland, not the South-East of England.

      Scotland CANNOT be a welfare state as it is now or it will go bankrupt!

      You’re absolutely right: that’s why we need full control over all our resources and economics so we can actually start getting jobs again. In inverclyde alone, there are literally dozens of applicants for every vacancy. That’s dozens of people ready, willing and able to work, but without any work to do.

      Less public sector more innovation!

      I’d like to think the two can go hand in hand, personally.

      That is what is going to be so hard if independent. Thatcher wiped out our core industries and since then we have had to become dependent on public sector jobs. This is not scaremongering, it’s FACT!

      I’m completely in agreement with you. We need to rebuild our industries precisely so we don’t stretch the public sector so strongly – but as long as Westminster is actively funnelling that innovation into London, that won’t happen.

      People should be wary of this and be wary of the shortbread tin, skipping through the daisies while we ALL order our Porsches and Maseratis scenario the Yes people are conveying.

      To hell with shortbread and fast cars, I’m looking forward to the hard graft that independence will bring. It’s going to be gruelling, hard and painful work – but because it’s work for the betterment of a country, it’s well worth it.

      Scotland has a a lot to do be fit for being independent and devo max is a good start. The more Salmond can’t blame Westminster the better. Then we would really have to show it’s a breeze to stand on our two feet, I know that Scotland can do it but we have many social issues which as we all know are scooped under the carpet by Yes.

      There’s a world of difference between saying things will be better than they are under Westminster, and saying we’ll have some sort of ridiculous idyllic utopia free of want or strife. It is not difficult to be less corrupt, wasteful, incompetent or downright immoral than the Westminster government. It is not a lofty, unattainable goal to not want to be the 3rd most unequal state in the world – there are literally hundreds of countries less unequal than the UK.

      Anyone who says independence will be a utopia is a liar – as I stated in the post. I don’t want it to be:I want us to EARN this independence through our blood, sweat and tears, rather than the thankless, fruitless toil under Westminster.

  33. Charlie says:

    One big flat tax, no loopholes or tax breaks, across all people and businesses of all incomes. Make the churches and other “holy shrines” pay their share, too. Would solve all the western countries’ financial problems. Especially when corps and religious institutions finally start paying their fair share, too. And when people being to take the vote and democracy back into their own hands–too many are apathetic anymore!

  34. Mart says:

    Views and opinions count that’s what democracy is all about

  35. JOHN T says:

    Couldn’t agree more, well done my friend!I don’t know you, but anyone that writes that well and truthfully is a friend of mine!😊…

  36. geddunsmore says:

    An excellent piece of prose. Eloquent, passionate and frank. This is the voice of someone not trying to score any political points, but instead speaking from the heart, and for that I thank you.

    • alharron says:

      Part of the reason I’m voting Yes is to get away from the cheap point-scoring of party politics. I’m not a member of any party, and I probably never will, until we get to a point where party politics is defined by collaboration, not competition.

  37. Robyn Kerr says:

    amazing writing!
    here’s hoping its a YES vote on 18th.
    Come on people of Scotland! We can do this!
    One things for sure. If its a NO vote, I’ll not be here for long. I’ll be emigrating!
    It should be simple anyways. Why would you want West Minster making decisions for your country? We can survive ourselves. We should be making our own decisions.

    • alharron says:

      I don’t think I could ever leave Scotland even in the event of a No vote. I totally respect the decision of those who do, but for me, I just can’t leave it behind. It’s the hills, my family, my roots, it’s a part of me, and I could never leave it.

  38. Owen King says:

    This article is beautiful my friend. Such strong emotions delivered in such a calm, well thought out method. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that a no vote, although not evil in itself, is condoning the malicious actions of Westminster.

    Hope to see more of your work

  39. gizmo72 says:

    Reblogged this on gizmosdiary and commented:
    One of the best pieces I’ve seen so far, and reflects a lot of my own feelings in terms of Yes and No voters not being enemies but being at opposite ends of the same scale.

    Well written, and well worth a read!

  40. Stefan says:

    Hi Al,

    I do like most of what you say, but where does this 155 billion tax cut figure for 1000 people come from? That would be a tax cut of 155 million per head, don’t think there is people that pay these kinds of amounts in tax per year to start with let alone a tax cut of this amount which would imply these people still pay a multiple of this figure in tax which is absurd.

    Also if people are no longer allowed to make money for themselves we will quickly stop producing altogether and we will be a country of mediocrity.

    Careful what you wish for

    Btw, national debt is over 1 trillion pounds, 3.5 billion is change only or roughly 50 pounds a head

    • alharron says:

      I do like most of what you say, but where does this 155 billion tax cut figure for 1000 people come from?

      Here I must again apologise profusely, as in my poetic vigour I’ve once again simplified. The 155 billion is in reference to the *gains* the 1,000 richest individuals in the UK have gained over the last three years as a result of the Coalition’s abolition of the 50p tax and other bonuses, as a comparison to the 900,000 or so who use foodbanks:

      http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2012/04/britains-1000-richest-persons-made-gains-of-155bn-in-last-3-years/

      So yes, not quite as simple as “155bn in tax cuts.” Nonetheless, the essential point I was making was that there is clearly one rule for the rich, and another for the poor. Public spending gets slashed, yet the Coalition sees fit to actively *gift* billions to the richest individuals, abolish the 50p tax, and seen them actively grow richer as the poor grow poorer. How David Cameron can talk about “permanent austerity” when it is documented that the richest 1,000 are RICHER NOW than they were since Austerity started is what I’m getting at.

      Also if people are no longer allowed to make money for themselves we will quickly stop producing altogether and we will be a country of mediocrity.

      Given the creativity and effort I’ve seen from volunteers, I don’t entirely agree. Nonetheless, I’d like to think there’s a happy medium between “making sure people don’t starve” and “not letting anyone have more wealth than others.” I look at it this way: if a society has sufficient wealth to stop people from starving to death, then the greater evil is to allow that person to starve. If feeding that person means “stealing” from the rich, then I think I can live with that on my conscience.

      Btw, national debt is over 1 trillion pounds, 3.5 billion is change only or roughly 50 pounds a head

      Of course, but as I said, that was just one of a number of things that could be cut instead of public services. Maybe stop them from wasting their money on IT systems and ID cards, too.

  41. Tim Ward says:

    A £155 billion tax cut? Uh, really? That would be slashing the HMG’s tax intake by around quarter at a stroke. Or, to put it another way, it would be as if they just straight up stopped collecting income tax. It’s more than the entire GDP of Scotland. It’s more than the entire budget of the NHS. So I’m going to just go ahead and ask for a source for that one.

    You might be thinking of that thing originating in the telegraph where the collective net worth of the 1000 richest in the UK has increased by £155 billion?

    What else… oh yes, “Consider: the UK government has been underwritten by North Sea Oil for decades”… um, no. Not unless you’re using ‘underwritten’ to mean something totally different from how it’s usually used. Tax income from North Sea oil is about 5-6 billion £ a year. UK government collects about £650 billion a year. I don’t think it could even be fairly said to underwrite Scotland. In the event of a yes vote I *think* North Sea Oil revenue would account for about 10% of the Scottish governments tax income (I didn’t check this very thoroughly), and while that’s significant, if it magically vanished into thin air one year, I think Scotland would be able to cope after it passed the immediate crisis.

    There’s more I could say, but it’s late so I’ll just say a little about food banks. Yes, there’s been a massive increase in their use recently and this shocking, but let’s talk a little about *why* it’s happening. I’m sure you have an answer ready involving how the Tories are evil, but a more honest answer is that the increase in foodbanks is down to combination of factors: rising food and energy prices (a global phenomena not related to the current level of Tory evilness), static wages (ditto), benefit cuts (ok, some Tory evilness there) and something that doesn’t get talked about much, which is the current cluster fuck in progress a the Department of Work and Pensions. Long story short, a lot of people going to foodbanks aren’t there because teh evil Tories cut their benefits, they’re there because they’re owed benefits that aren’t being paid because, as a result of the changes IDS has made, the system is in chaos. Having had some experience with the benefit system back when I was unemployed, I certainly have a very low opinion of organisation that makes it work and certainly have little faith in their ability to find their ass with an atlas. And given that the benefit system supports millions, it doesn’t take many fuck ups, as a percentage, to force 10s or 100s of thousands to fall back to foodbanks. So, yes, a disgrace but the disgrace is more “what the fuck is going on in our benefits system that they just don’t pay people the money they’re entitled to” rather than “evil Tories are doing it deliberately because they hate the poor”, that stuff’s for children.

    I think the broader point I’m trying to make is that your hyperbole doesn’t really reflect reality, that it in fact comes from a world view primarily driven by ideology and which, like any world view driven by ideology, is not really even equipped to try and reflect reality but would rather try and make reality reflect it’s own myopic narratives.

    Scotland, when you vote on the 18th I hope you’re not swayed by any farcical nonsense about Westminster bogey men, and I hope you pay no heed to the parade of horseshit, dubious statistics, outright lies and irrelevant fantasies coming out of the preening, self-aggrandizing shitlords which seem to make up the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns. I hope the words “bedroom tax” won’t even cross your mind, that thing won’t even be a footnote in history and the decision you’re about to make will affect your descendants for at least the next several hundred years. Instead think about the benefits of being a smaller country (legislation made for a smaller population is more specific to that population) vs a larger one (economies of scale, diplomatic clout), think about what might go wrong if poor decisions are made, think about the benefits if things go smoothly, does one outweigh the other? Think about the terms of Scotland’s membership of the EU – no one really knows how that will go, because the situation is unprecedented, so what’s the best case scenario and what’s the worse case scenario? Which is more likely, how unpalatable is the worst case scenario, how beneficial is the best case scenario? Think about oil. A great boon if used correctly, but it won’t last forever and becoming dependent on it economically is dangerous. There are various estimates of how much is left, how does it work out if the best estimate is true, how does it work out if the worst is true? And so on.

    Best of luck with it all, anyway. I hope you make the right decision. We probably won’t ever know what the right decision was.

    • alharron says:

      (I’ve tried to write this comment about three times and the browser crashed, so please bear with me)

      You might be thinking of that thing originating in the telegraph where the collective net worth of the 1000 richest in the UK has increased by £155 billion?

      Stefan alerted me to this earlier in the comments, and your deductions are correct. The source appeared to be one of those “Rich Lists” reported in papers like the Sunday Times and Herald, but my original source was an MP’s site.

      What else… oh yes, “Consider: the UK government has been underwritten by North Sea Oil for decades”… um, no. Not unless you’re using ‘underwritten’ to mean something totally different from how it’s usually used.

      Quite possibly, my usage is gleaned from my reading of various articles (pro-independence, pro-union, and neutral):

      http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2008/may/scotlands-oil-underwriting-failed-uk-policies

      http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-economy/4235-would-an-independent-scotland-be-financially-sound

      http://www.maxkeiser.com/2011/09/the-peak-oil-plan-north-sea-gas/

      http://moneyweek.com/learning-to-live-without-north-sea-oil/

      So it seems more accurate to say North Sea Oil has underwritten the UK’s debt/economic changes/specific policies, not the entirety of the government itself – which is obvious, as you point out it doesn’t even underwrite Scotland’s entire economy. According to the Scottish government, oil and gas accounts for 15% of Scotland’s revenue, so 10% for oil alone may not be far off.

      Long story short, a lot of people going to foodbanks aren’t there because teh evil Tories cut their benefits, they’re there because they’re owed benefits that aren’t being paid because, as a result of the changes IDS has made, the system is in chaos.

      … So they aren’t being paid by the Tories because of changes made to the benefits system by a Tory which has left the system in chaos, and is being explained using the Austerity idealogy.

      So, yes, a disgrace but the disgrace is more “what the fuck is going on in our benefits system that they just don’t pay people the money they’re entitled to” rather than “evil Tories are doing it deliberately because they hate the poor”, that stuff’s for children.

      I’ll have to disagree here: if the Conservatives truly believed that, then they would openly acknowledge that the benefit system is wrong, rather than explicitly blame “benefits cheats” and “scroungers,” which IS what they blame for the benefits crisis. Of course, that would mean admitting they were grotesquely incompetent, but they made the choice to blame the victims instead of the perpetrators, and so demonised the people suffering the most, because they’d rather do that than acknowledge their mistakes. Sorry, that does sound rather like they hate the poor to me.

      I’m not saying they’re doing it purely out of punitive hate: they’re clearly doing it so that they can protect their own wealth. It’s mercenary, it’s not just wild sadism. There’s a cold, horrible logic behind it, which is what I’m getting at.

      I think the broader point I’m trying to make is that your hyperbole doesn’t really reflect reality, that it in fact comes from a world view primarily driven by ideology and which, like any world view driven by ideology, is not really even equipped to try and reflect reality but would rather try and make reality reflect it’s own myopic narratives.

      Hyperbole I’ll happily accept, but you cannot deny the basic fact that since the start of austerity, the rich have become richer while the poor have become poorer. Strip away all the details about food prices and beaurocratic incompetence, that’s the basic reality. Britain is the 3rd most unequal country in the world. There are HUNDREDS of countries LESS UNEQUAL than Britain. That’s the reality I’m trying to reflect.

      I hope the words “bedroom tax” won’t even cross your mind, that thing won’t even be a footnote in history and the decision you’re about to make will affect your descendants for at least the next several hundred years.

      People I know – people like myself – have been personally impoverished by the Bedroom Tax, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t insult our plight by referring to it as something not even worthy of consideration in history. You may be correct in that regard – probably will be. But I have to think of my immediate circumstances too. Macrohistory is irrelevant when people I know are having thir livelihoods destroyed by successive Westminster policies.

      Best of luck with it all, anyway. I hope you make the right decision. We probably won’t ever know what the right decision was.

      I may disagree with much of what you wrote, but I appreciate you taking the time to comment all the same.

      • Tim Ward says:

        … So they aren’t being paid by the Tories because of changes made to the benefits system by a Tory which has left the system in chaos, and is being explained using the Austerity idealogy.

        If I remember rightly, it wasn’t explained with austerity ideology, or, indeed, austerity anything else. It was explained, originally, as simply an attempt to streamline the welfare system, IDS wanted to change over to a single payment which could be bigger or smaller depending on what you were entitled to, rather than 94 different benefits you could apply to get. This is actually an extremely good idea on paper, the welfare system has been tinkered with with successive governments and is now a Kafka-esque nightmare to the point where people don’t get the benefits they’re eligable for simply because they don’t know they’re entitled to them.

        Obviously, the reality didn’t work out that well or at least it hasn’t in the short term.

        I mean, if you think politicians making decisions with the best of intentions and them turning out to have intended consequences is going to go away with independence then, er, good luck with that.

        But, the Tories, the Tories the Tories, I guess.

        I’ll have to disagree here: if the Conservatives truly believed that, then they would openly acknowledge that the benefit system is wrong, rather than explicitly blame “benefits cheats” and “scroungers,” which IS what they blame for the benefits crisis. Of course, that would mean admitting they were grotesquely incompetent, but they made the choice to blame the victims instead of the perpetrators, and so demonised the people suffering the most, because they’d rather do that than acknowledge their mistakes. Sorry, that does sound rather like they hate the poor to me.

        Yeah, well, there’s reasons I will never, ever vote conservative even though I seem to be defending them here, and this kind of poison is one of them. Unfortunately, none of the people who spout that kind of nonsense are here.

        I’m not saying they’re doing it purely out of punitive hate: they’re clearly doing it so that they can protect their own wealth. It’s mercenary, it’s not just wild sadism. There’s a cold, horrible logic behind it, which is what I’m getting at.

        They’re doing it to protect their own power. Wealth has nothing to do with it. You think Osborne is going to lose his millions if he doesn’t kick a few people out their houses with one too many bedrooms? No, the “scroungers” narrative is a sadly powerful force in British politics, thanks to the Daily Fucking Mail. All politicians have to appease it if they want a shot at office, or at least they believe they do. Problem is, it’s hard to refute because no one actually knows how big the problem really is. But I’m getting completely off topic.

        Hyperbole I’ll happily accept, but you cannot deny the basic fact that since the start of austerity, the rich have become richer while the poor have become poorer.

        I can and am: This trend predates the start of austerity. When I was investigating the next part of this, I came across an article in the Independent saying UK NOW MOST UNEQUAL COUNTRY IN WESTERN WORLD… from 1996. The funny part was all the other sites citing it in 2014 as if it were current.

        Britain is the 3rd most unequal country in the world. There are HUNDREDS of countries LESS UNEQUAL than Britain. That’s the reality I’m trying to reflect.

        Well, stop it. Because it’s not true. Third most unequal country in the world? More unequal than India? North Korea? Russia? Saudi Arabia? South Africa? China? Come on. No. Britain is, according to one study, the fourth most unequal country out of the 25 most developed countries in the world (behind USA, Singapore and Portugal if you’re interested). That’s where I think this meme comes from. And it’s just one study, there are others I’ve seen that place it around the middle. It just depends a lot on how you define inequality (like, are we talking about wealth inequality or income inequality or what), how you define 25 most developed, what methodology you use and so on. Not saying Danny Dorling’s study is bullshit and the others ones are right, I haven’t even read them and am not qualified to denounce anyone’s work in that field as horseshit.

        Just saying a bit of healthy skepticism about these SHOCKING STATISTICS is always in order. Even when they seem to support ‘your side’. Especially then.

        And think on this: if you had a country which was almost perfectly equal and everyone had the same income which was enough to live on comfortably, want for nothing but certainly not rich and then suddenly a small number of obscenely rich people moved there then that country would, according to the statistics, have suddenly gone from being a very equal country to a very unequal one… but how would the lives of everyone else living there by changed materially? Inequality is important because it has social and political consequences, but in terms of economics I consider more absolutist measures of levels of poverty in a country more significant.

    • alharron says:

      Tim, for some reason I’m having difficulty replying to your latest post, so hope you read it here:

      Once again, Tim, I appreciate your comments: they’ve been a study in ensuring I check, double-check and triple-check my posts, and don’t reply without proofreading.

      If I remember rightly, it wasn’t explained with austerity ideology, or, indeed, austerity anything else.

      Austerity has been mentioned on a number of occassions since 2010:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/world/europe/08britain.html

      http://www.rferl.org/content/Britain_Announces_Sweeping_Austerity_Measures/2196108.html

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-02/cameron-austerity-turns-u-k-company-debt-into-world-beater-credit-markets.html

      It was explained, originally, as simply an attempt to streamline the welfare system, IDS wanted to change over to a single payment which could be bigger or smaller depending on what you were entitled to, rather than 94 different benefits you could apply to get. This is actually an extremely good idea on paper, the welfare system has been tinkered with with successive governments and is now a Kafka-esque nightmare to the point where people don’t get the benefits they’re eligable for simply because they don’t know they’re entitled to them.

      All well and good, except that the Conservatives idea on “what you were entitled to” is very different from the vast majority, and has done nothing to actually change the system. You seem to be adhering to Hanlon’s Razor with the Conservatives, but frankly, I don’t think their actions can be adequately attributed to stupidity or incompetence.

      I mean, if you think politicians making decisions with the best of intentions and them turning out to have intended consequences is going to go away with independence then, er, good luck with that.

      Don’t worry, I think nothing of the sort. I do at least hope to have politicians that are more competent – or at the very least, accountable for their mistakes. Case in point, there are currently no mechanisms by which you can sack your MP outside of a 12-month-plus jail sentence and a recall petition:

      http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2011/12/13/want-to-fire-your-mp-here-s-how

      But, the Tories, the Tories the Tories, I guess.

      Well let’s be fair, I spent pretty much the entire first part of the article bleating about a Labour politician, and wasn’t exactly kind on the Liberal Democrats either. Westminster, Westminster, Westminster is the problem for me.

      They’re doing it to protect their own power. Wealth has nothing to do with it. You think Osborne is going to lose his millions if he doesn’t kick a few people out their houses with one too many bedrooms?

      I’d say that protecting their own power is protecting their wealth. Osborne won’t lose his millions if he doesn’t enact sanctions, but he might lose his millions if a remotely socialist party got into power, started taxing the rich, and making wealthy people more accountable to things like tax evasion.

      I can and am: This trend predates the start of austerity.

      Ah, I understand what you mean now. Yes, I absolutely agree this predates austerity – though austerity has not reversed the trend, but exacerbated it, which is what I was getting at (i.e. the rich HAVE been getting richer and the poor HAVE been getting poorer, it’s just that this has also been the case before the Coalition implemented austerity):

      http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/23/2826081/european-commission-austerity/

      Well, stop it. Because it’s not true. Third most unequal country in the world? More unequal than India? North Korea? Russia? Saudi Arabia? South Africa? China? Come on. No. Britain is, according to one study, the fourth most unequal country out of the 25 most developed countries in the world (behind USA, Singapore and Portugal if you’re interested).

      Proofreading is important: you’re absolutely right to correct me on this. (This is what happens when you don’t proofread your comments and make sure you realise what you’re typing and whether it’s right or not. Don’t type angry, bloggers). Really, being the fourth most unequal (on its way to being third) out of the 25 most developed countries is bad enough for me. Sure, it’s not bad in comparison to a third-world nation or a warzone…

      Anyway, I decided to have another look around the ‘net.

      http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Inequality/GINI-index

      This site has the UK 96th most unequal out of 141 countries (there are 55 countries unlisted, presumably due to insufficient data). India’s 88th, Russia’s 49th, South Africa’s 8th, and China’s 61st. North Korea is absent from the list, for obvious reasons, as is Saudi Arabia. That said, the UK’s entry is from 1999, so it may well be in a different spot now. Poor Trinidad & Tobago’s information is over two decades old.

      Just saying a bit of healthy skepticism about these SHOCKING STATISTICS is always in order. Even when they seem to support ‘your side’. Especially then.

      Normally I do, which is why I’m so profusely apologetic about this one. Once again, my thanks for keeping me on track.

  42. Mike Heinemeier says:

    Have you posted this on the BT site? You must!

  43. Patrick says:

    Eloquent but one-sided. Much of the yes vote propaganda uses scare tactics and bends the truth in the same way as is claimed here for the no vote. Worse though, much of the yes vote propaganda verges on xenophobic with respect to the English and Marxist with respect to economic matters (and yes, I know Alex Salmond is a gifted economist). You’d never credit how intermingled the peoples of these islands are – but I suppose that’s why only those in Scotland get to vote on an issue so important to the whole UK?

    • alharron says:

      Eloquent but one-sided.

      You don’t say.

      Much of the yes vote propaganda uses scare tactics and bends the truth in the same way as is claimed here for the no vote.

      There’s a difference between genuine warnings of the reality of a No vote, and scaremongering about possibilities (or even impossibilities). Telling people about the very real danger of privatisation and TTIP is not “scare tactics”: saying Scotland’s grocery prices WILL go up is.

      Worse though, much of the yes vote propaganda verges on xenophobic with respect to the English

      There are *three* people in Yes Inverclyde alone who are, on some level or another, English. One was born in Scotland, but raised in England, so he retains his accent. MSP Stuart McMillan was born in England and raised in Scotland. Councillor Math Campbell-Sturgess was born AND raised in England. Are you going to argue they engage in propaganda that “verges on xenophobia”?

      and Marxist with respect to economic matters

      You say that like it’s a bad thing – though again, the Yes campaign has people from the whole political spectrum.

      You’d never credit how intermingled the peoples of these islands are – but I suppose that’s why only those in Scotland get to vote on an issue so important to the whole UK?

      We’re intermingled with the people of other countries, too. There are 61,201 people of Polish ancestry in Scotland: should Poland have a say in the referendum? What about Pakistan, with the 49,381 Scots of Pakistani origin? What of China (33,706)? India (32,706)? Ireland (54,090)?

      This isn’t about ethnicity or ethnography, which is why English people residing in Melrose have a vote while Scottish people residing in Corby don’t.

  44. david mccann says:

    so your saying that everyone who had wages paid into the northern rock, rbs, HBOS banks should have been made to suffer to get it up the banking industry? what about people who had retirment savings, savings for 1st homes, wedding savings etc, small business accounts… we should have all been made to suffer also? by the way what bank were you with at the time?

    • alharron says:

      so your saying that everyone who had wages paid into the northern rock, rbs, HBOS banks should have been made to suffer to get it up the banking industry?

      Oh no, I’m not saying that at all: the customers deserved to have their savings protected, as indeed they would have been under the EU Deposit Guarantee Scheme (thanks Tim). I’m just saying that the bank itself didn’t deserve to be bailed out. There are ways to protect those who weren’t responsible for the bank’s crash without failing to hold the bank itself to account for it.

      by the way what bank were you with at the time?

      The Bank of Scotland. It used to be RBS, but I left due to their outrageous liberties (like overdrawing my account for “routine bank charges” and putting me in the red, then having the audacity to say it was MY fault for not having enough in the bank), so I wasn’t exactly favourable to their rescue. But again, that’s part of the greater argument around tighter regulation of banks vs. protecting people over business.

      • david mccann says:

        northern rocks troblues started in 2007. the eu deposit scheme was up graded after this. the eu deposit scheme is backed by each individual country they the banks main head office is in. so the government would have had to bank roll the scheme regardless, both in 2007 and post. it was only after 2007 that the scheme was increased to cover more of customer funds. so without the govt propping up northern rock a lot of people would have lost out. (check it out with Tim) i think pre 2008 it was about 85% of a persons money up to a value of 20Keuro pre 2008. it is now 100k euro.

      • alharron says:

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one: a lot of people would have lost out, but a lot more people have lost out since then.

  45. Nick says:

    I think to be fair to Mr Darling, as another post pointed out, it is the financial services which guarantees your funds stay ‘intact’. Having said that, can you imagine what on Earth would have happened had that money not been there? In the wake, no Bank would have survived the pummelling had everyone moved to extract their funds. The other thing is this: Have you noticed that since the debate began, the oil off the Scottish coast has become Scottish Oil? Not UK oil, but Scottish. There wasn’t a union because of North Sea Oil, and at the time, we were all happy for it. I don’t know what the end result will be, but I hope that in order to save billions in bureaucracy and more red tape and working out whose owes what, we get on with the business of making Britain Great again. I think with Scotland off on it’s own, I think everyone is just going to end up second rate.

    • alharron says:

      Having said that, can you imagine what on Earth would have happened had that money not been there?

      I would wonder why on earth we’d be so lax about banking regulation if the possibility of a crash was that severe.

      The other thing is this: Have you noticed that since the debate began, the oil off the Scottish coast has become Scottish Oil? Not UK oil, but Scottish.

      I guess you missed the SNP “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign from the 1970s? It’s Scottish oil because the vast majority of the oil is located in Scottish waters, much like how the English Channel still gets called the English Channel, even if we’re part of the UK.

      There wasn’t a union because of North Sea Oil, and at the time, we were all happy for it.

      The Scottish Independence movement started a long time before oil was discovered in the North Sea, so evidently not everyone was happy about the union as it stood at the time. Certainly about 2 million people were unhappy with the union by 1949 (the Scottish Covenant). Even without North Sea Oil, I’d be in favour of independence.

      I don’t know what the end result will be, but I hope that in order to save billions in bureaucracy and more red tape and working out whose owes what, we get on with the business of making Britain Great again.

      Unfortunately the current Scottish “powers” on offer are pretty much exactly that: more unnecessary bureaucracy to give the Scottish government more responsibilities without significantly greater say in what that bureaucracy’s for.

      We can make Britain Great again without governance from Westminster: the bond between Scotland and England transcends politics, and doesn’t require political union to ratify it. Certainly Britain’s bond with Ireland has endured despite tremendous strain over the years, Scotland should be a doddle in comparison.

  46. deedee says:

    Excellent article, articulate, well written even if the ‘red mist’ was upon you! I too blame Darling, he and his kind allowed the banks to gamble with our money by failing to regulate the banks properly i.e. they knew that the investment arms of the banks were encroaching into the retail sector, making risky investments e.g. sub-prime mortgages but they failed to act as they believe in the capitalist myth; the market is king and letting it have free reign will ultimately bring prosperity for all by the ‘trickle down’ effect. The truth is (the majority) of those who have it will not give it up willingly! We need a more socially just and balanced society & will only achieve this through effect taxation, investment in public services, the NHS etc. but ultimately through investment in our most valuable asset – people. The unemployed or underemployed have too often been used as scapegoats or have been written off and left to rot. We need to put effective measures in place to truly tackle poverty & ignorance but successive Westminster governments have failed (as they are unwilling) to do this – we have the opportunity to change our society for the better, it won’t be easy but nothing worth fighting for ever is! P.S. I find your capacity to stay calm & measured admirable when responding to those who put your words under the microscope of their own myopic views.

    • alharron says:

      Thank you, Deedee. It can be deeply embarrassing finding I’ve been inaccurate or wrong, especially when I get all ranty like that and don’t think properly. Truth doesn’t care whether you’re right or wrong.

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