The Other Leg of Time

Talk about the Butterfly Effect

You might have wondered why I didn’t mark yesterday: what could have been the first anniversary of an Independent Scotland’s reappearance after three centuries of union. We could dream about a Scotland that didn’t suffer the indignities of yet another government they didn’t vote for, a Smith Commission where the party of Scottish Government’s proposals were rejected, a Scotland Bill without a single amendment from a Scottish MP, a European Union referendum they didn’t want, and a forced exit from a European Union they didn’t want to leave. We could imagine a Scotland finding its feet, facing the challenges, and working to overcome the obstacles which any nation braves willingly as the responsibility of a sovereign state. We could fantasise about the books finally being laid open, the vindication of Scotland’s real finances, and see how the EU really would treat a “new” pro-EU nation, which already adhered to EU legislation for 40 years, that wanted to remain.

Yet we’ll never truly know, will we? A Yes vote would have changed everything. Nothing would be the same. Would David Cameron have stuck it out until the General Election? In the event he resigned, would Theresa May have succeeded him – would she even put herself in the running? What would have happened in the 2015 election – would Scottish constituencies even put forward candidates for a Parliament that would no longer rule them? Would there even be an election that year, given the upheaval the breaking of the Treaty of Union would have undoubtedly wrought? Even if there was a General Election, could we be so sure the party which lost Scotland could have succeeded in gaining a majority? And even if that majority was gained, would a European Union Referendum even take place – “Now is not the time” for another referendum being a popular refrain in this timeline? If so, what guarantee is there that Leave would be victorious in the aftermath of Scottish Independence?

Such is the nature of the Butterfly Effect, where one decision – one that might seem small, like a cross in a ballot box – can have far-reaching consequences.

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I Don’t Want Another Independence Referendum

There are wants and there are needs. This is a basic element of health, economics, and social structure. First there are wants: things which you might desire, but which are not essential to your life & livelihood – luxuries, frivolities, hobbies. Then there are needs: things which you might not desire, but which are essential to your life & livelihood – sustenance, shelter, warmth. There are wants which can provide some needs, and some needs which you might want. But at the end of the day, needs are essential: wants are not.

It is important to distinguish between the two.

Basis for Comparison Needs Wants
Meaning Needs refers to an individual’s basic requirement that must be fulfilled, in order to survive. Wants are described as the goods and services, which an individual like to have, as a part of his caprices.
Nature Limited Unlimited
What is it? Something you must have. Something you wish to have.
Represents Necessity Desire
Survival Essential Inessential
Change May remain constant over time. May change over time.
Non-fulfillment May result in onset of disease or even death. May result in disappointment.
I don’t want another Independence Referendum. The Scottish Government don’t want another Independence Referendum. And I don’t think the people of Scotland want another Independence Referendum.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

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Watch Your Step, Cassandra: Hawthorne Is Watching

cassandra_the-stratford-gallery_henrietta-lee-palmer

An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop.

The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you’d tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass… when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you’ve just been discovered, you’re all subjects of the Emperor now, he’s keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.

— Iain M. Banks, Excession

It is now 78 days until the Scottish Local Authority Election. Historically speaking, these are frequently the second-lowest attended elections in Scotland, which is understandable, given the prominence and perceived hierarchy of the UK Government: according to the Westminster hierarchy, the UK Parliament is at the top tier of government, with the Scottish Parliament next, and local authorities third. Here in Scotland, things are a bit different: in Scotland, the people are sovereign. As local authorities are the closest to the sovereign people, they are crucial to the political conversation. Is it any wonder, then, that the elite insist on putting Westminster first, Holyrood second, and local authorities last, when an argument could easily be made for the very reverse?

But that’s all by the by. I will once again be campaigning for my local SNP candidates in this election. Yesterday, several of them were approved by the Greenock & Inverclyde Branch & Constituency to go forward. There is still time for anyone else to throw their hat in the ring, but we don’t exactly have a surplus of that particular resource.

(Time, that is: we have plenty of hats)

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Where We Are, And Where We’re Going

bettertogethereu-1

“So that’s it, then? We’re leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union, all that.”

“That’s right.”

“But Scotland voted Remain.”

“No, the UK voted Leave. Scotland voted No, therefore, chose to abide by UK-wide decisions – including the EU referendum.”

“Voting to stay in the UK doesn’t mean voting for Scotland to be treated as a region, and have its democratic mandate ignored.”

“Well, you should’ve voted Yes then, shouldn’t you?”

“But you told us that voting Yes meant we would be leaving the EU.”

“That’s right.”

“So if we wanted to stay in the EU, we were to vote No.”

“Yup.”

“So we voted No, but ended up being taken out of the EU anyway.”

“Aye.”

“So if we voted Yes, we’d be out of the EU. If we voted No, we’d be out of the EU. So you’re basically saying that Scotland has no way of staying in the EU, even though we voted 62% to Remain?”

“Correct.”

“Even though dozens of EU ministers, officials, and politicians have outright stated that if Scotland wanted to stay, it could stay?”

“Ah, but Spain and Belgium-“

“If Spain, Belgium, or any of the 27 countries were serious about preventing Scotland from retaining or regaining EU membership, then why are so many EU politicians, ministers, and officials saying Scotland could stay? Why would they say Scotland could stay if there was a possibility we could not?

“Ah, but the deficit-“

“The same applies. If the deficit was a barrier to Scotland retaining or regaining EU membership, then why are so many EU politicians, ministers, and officials saying Scotland could stay?

“But, but, all the separatist movements”

“Everything you say – anything you say – does not address that simple question. If Scotland could not retain or regain EU membership – whether it’s because of vetoes, deficits, or fears of separatist movements – then why are so many EU politicians, ministers, and officials saying Scotland can stay?

“Why don’t you respect democracy? The UK voted to leave the EU, and you don’t want to: Scotland voted to stay in the UK, and you want to Leave!”

“If England & Wales want to leave the EU based on a vote compromised by a gerrymandered franchise, that’s their business – just as if Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar want to Remain in that same vote. The people of Scotland voted for a party with an explicit manifesto commitment to hold a second independence referendum in these exact circumstances.”

“But we were voting as Britain, not England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland!”

“That’s not what you told us during the independence referendum: it was all about being a Partnership of Equals; of Scotland leading, not leaving, the UK; of solidarity with the people of England and Wales without sacrificing our distinct Scottish identity. By saying we’re voting as if Britain is one nation, you’re refuting your own arguments about this “family of nations.””

“So you’d just swap London rule for Brussels rule?”

“The EU doesn’t pretend to be a country. The UK didn’t have to get permission to hold a referendum. Brussels didn’t control the UK’s media coverage through the entirety of the campaign. Stop trying to pretend the UK and the EU are the same – otherwise, why would you favour one and not the other?”

“Why are you so against British independence, you hypocrite?”

The UK has never been anything but independent. Don’t confuse empire and dominion with sovereignty and self-determination.”

“Och, why don’t you just get on with it and hold indyref2 already?”

“Don’t mind if we do. You’re welcome to join us.”

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again

therealalancochrane

Let’s play a wee game.

I’m going to take some statements, like this, from The Telegraph’s latest editorial:

After the Brexit vote last June, Miss Sturgeon said another independence vote was inevitable; now she has backed away because she knows she would lose it and scupper the separatist cause for generations. If she really has the interests of her fellow Scots at heart then she would drop this empty threat and help Mrs May deliver a Brexit in the interests of the entire nation, Scotland included.

Some of these statements may have been taken in the past year, in the wake of the First Minister reasserting her existing position regarding a second independence referendum, and her direct interaction with several prominent individuals in the European Union. Some may be from prominent supporters of Scotland as part of the UK; some may be from supporters of Scottish independence. Some of them may have been altered to replace Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon, and are taken not from this week, but years ago.

Can you tell who said these things, and when?

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The 1st of Chaos, 3183

It’s 1st of January 2017, or the above date in the Discordian calendar, which seems altogether more appropriate given the topsy-turvy way the world’s been of late. A lot of Scottish/independence-related anniversaries will be coming up for 2017:

There are likely many more I’m forgetting, but it’s nice to mark them after all the anniversaries of the past few years.

The Reverend Stuart Campbell has boldly proclaimed it will be “the most tedious year in Scottish politics” since Wings Over Scotland began. After a series of frighteningly accurate predictions, not to mention the utterly depressing predictability of the media and the other political parties, only a fool would challenge such a track record.

Let the fool step forward! (The fool is me, by the way)

But that can wait. For now, let’s enjoy the hopes and dreams for the future, before we get back to work.