If only

Instead of micro-demographic categories, what we’ll need to understand are dreams. These can be reduced to three geospatial identities, which I’ve labelled Scandi-Scotland, the asset-rich south-east and post-industrial Britain.

The whole drama of the election rests on the fact that none of the major parties has fully accepted the emergence of these new faultlines, and are still trying to capture a political centre that does not exist.

Let’s start with Scandi-Scotland. If the polls are right, the next parliament will be dominated by the issue of Scottish independence. If you think this was settled in last September’s referendum, you’d be wrong. Large numbers of Scots, even some who voted no, have formed an identity best summed up by the pre-referendum poster that said: “Welcome to the warm south of Scandinavia”. It is left-social democratic in content, but globalist and Europeanist in reach. Whatever the unionist parties say about a coalition with the SNP, the question of whether this dream can be fulfilled within the UK will be crucial.

Paul Mason’s missed the same thing that most Scots have missed. Sure, the Scandis are high tax, high welfare state, high redistribution types of places.

They’re also, underneath that, rather more vehemently classically liberal free market types of places than the UK or US are. It’s rather what makes the places work in fact. And there’s just no way at all that the SNP, or Scottish Labour, would countenance the sort of economic freedom that this implies. And, sad to say it, but the high tax high redistribution model doesn’t actually seem to work unless you’re running over that free market economy.

68 thoughts on “If only”

  1. Anyway, the more simple characterisation is that many Scots are caught up in a nationalist fervour, which blames all their problems on wealthy “tories”. The Germans did the same thing a while back, blaming all their problems on wealthy “jews”.

    Didn’t work out too well, that.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    ‘Pens which Scots. Tim N. It’s what’d make the Nat dream of a resource rich independent Jockland so interesting. The majority of the population are basically Liverpudlians with a fetish for wearing skirts to sporting events & weddings. The majority of the area, provides those resources, has a population much closer to the Scandi mindset. Absent the English common enemy it’d be fascinating watching the internal divisions making themselves felt.

  3. Aah, the perennial fantasy view of Scandanavia with its policies of the 1970s but its relative success of the 2010’s.

  4. It seems to me that modern lefties are not real socialists, but mere ponces.

    There has to be a viable capital base to provide the taxes for their system to work. Remember, mid-term, wehn the two Eds were using the tax on bankers a dozen times over on their favourite wheezes.

    They think capitalism is immoral, but are content to live off its earnings…

    I don’t think a proper economic plan for an independent Scotland was ever developed, because not the least of the enemies of a proper plan would have been Salmond himself. The man revels in his twisted fantasies like a rutting pig in shit. (Mixed metaphor alert!)

  5. Pete in Whanganui

    Nationalism AND socialism. Where have I heard that before?

    The demonising of non-ethnic Scots for the no vote in the independence referendum is already underway.

    Mind you, the idea of keeping on having votes until the people give the right answer means they should fit in very well in the EU.

  6. It’s almost impossible to say what the most depressing part of the referendum was.

    There were a whole load of self-congratulatory Yes campaigners talking about how they were inventing a new style of politics and policy (heard that one before?). In actual fact it was just the usual Jimmy Reid/Red Clydesiders with Twitter and Facebook.

    Most vocal of them was/is “Common Weal” who convinced themselves that a new socialist utopia was on the horizon. Richard Murphy spoke to them last week, which I think says it all.

    Voices speaking up for free markets and liberty were few. There was a small group set up (by Michael Fry amongst others) but they were given next to no media coverage. I did hear one of the Common Weal commissars describe them as fascist.

    No matter what happens in this election, Scotland is screwed for at least another generation or two.

  7. It seems to me that if the SNP holds Labour to ransom in the next parliament and there are only two non-SNP seats left then both Labour and the Tories might find it advantageous to give the buggers a push and get rid of them.

    If Big Eck acts as kingmaker to a minority Labour government then that might be just enough poison in the ear for the UK electorate to decide to resolve the West Lothian question once and for all.

    This does not necessarily mean the breakup of the union, but certainly the use of nationalist parties to hold up central governments needs to be dealt with.

    This was as true for the minority government of John Major as it will be for the proposed SNP/Labour coalition.

  8. “These can be reduced to three geospatial identities, which I’ve labelled Scandi-Scotland, the asset-rich south-east and post-industrial Britain.”

    Standard commie shit from Mason. Fantasy maps drawn up by jargon-rich twats (“geospatial identities”) to impose a new reality on mere people.

  9. John Galt-

    Indeed. The one positive thing to come out of an SNP tail wagging the dog is that it will force the West Lothian question by destroying the last legitimacy of the current Westminster mess.

  10. It’s like their view of Keynes – run the deficits but not the budget surpluses. Take the bit you like and ignore the bit you don’t. It works brilliantly for rhetoric but in real life it does not, but that’s what Gulags were invented for.

  11. With (genuine) respect, anyone who thinks anything that actually happens will force the reevaluation of the West Lothian question is naiive.

    That would require the existence of at least two strong and distinct political ideologies where voters were offered a choice between allowing Scots MPs the vote on English matters and not.

    When what we have is a cosy carve up between careerist liars who just want Buggins turn at the limo-and-grace and favour mansion gig, both on very similar points on the statist scale, it won’t matter a damn.

    I happen to be against the death penalty, but there was a time when the overwhelming majority of the electorate were strongly in favour. Votes could have been had… But the electorate? Pah!

  12. I happen to be against the death penalty, but there was a time when the overwhelming majority of the electorate were strongly in favour. Votes could have been had… But the electorate? Pah!

    When the politicians don’t like the answers the electorate are giving them (as with the death penalty), then they never ask the question or alternately all have the same view in defiance of the electorate.

    But what might happen is an alignment with political opportunism and popular support…the very playground of referendums.

  13. We don’t know what would have happened in a death penalty (or any other) referendum; people can often change their opinions when it becomes a serious matter of debate rather than just being asked in a poll.

  14. GlenDorran – it depressed me too.

    I’d see the likes of Jim Sillars pop up on TV like a peely-wally Hugo Chavez, and think: “where have all the good Scots gone?”

    Moved to England or keeping schtum, it would seem.

    I read the Common Weal website and it is brilliant. They came to my attention for an essay they published arguing that the working week should be restricted to 30 hours to make everybody rich.

    What sort of people don’t understand this “working for a living” lark? This sort:

    http://www.allofusfirst.org/what-is-common-weal/common-weal-team/

    ASH REGAN-DENHAM
    LOBBYIST, PARLIAMENTARY UNIT

    Ash has a B.A in International Relations a M.Sc. in Development Management

    Stop sniggering!

    and a Washington Consensus phobia.

    A phobia is an irrational fear, so sounds about right.

    She lives with her family in an earth sheltered passivhaus that she built into the hillside after being told it couldn’t be done.

    Shouldn’t. They told you you shouldn’t live like Stig of the Dump.

    Never mind that. Here come the bullshit buzzwords:

    A values driven public affairs professional, she communicates messages for debate and change, to influence policy makers and stakeholders through a mix of facetoface,traditional media and new media strategies.

    Translation: this woman is useless and would starve to death if not for the surplus wealth created by capitalism.

    KATIE GALLOGLY-SWAN
    STRATEGY, DEVELOPMENT AND CAMPAIGNS

    Katie is a strategist and project manager for Common Weal from Coatbridge, Scotland.

    OK…

    Graduating in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 2013, her academic focus is Scottish linguistics and media.

    And if you’re wondering where all that misdirected “education” leads to…

    She edits an arts zine based in Glasgow, is a blogger for The Herald, and is interested in developing media literacy programs for youth in Scotland.

    Another Golgafrincham B-Arker.

    And they’re all like that: right-on journalists, greenies, and the hard-of-thinking who assume their degrees in feminist basket weaving make them intellectuals.

    Where is General Pinochet when you need him?

  15. The Scots have a problem coming up withe closure of Longannet coal fired power station, for which of course the SNP blame Westminster’s carbon taxes even though the SNP have a policy of 100% renewables. The problem with wind that they are only just discovering is that when it doesn’t blow, the Scots have to import power, but when it does blow, they can export power, but they won’t get a good price for it. because the wind also blows south of the border,. This, say the SNP, shows how grid pricing is rigged against the Scots. Not at all, it is rigged against the feckless.

  16. Scotland and SNP support is a combination of nationalism and socialism. However, their dream, if it ever could work, which I doubt, depends on high-priced and continuing oil, and a willingness not to blow it on heating spare rooms etc. There is absolutely so sign of that anywhere.

  17. @IanB

    ‘We don’t know what would have happened in a death penalty (or any other) referendum; people can often change their opinions when it becomes a serious matter of debate rather than just being asked in a poll.’

    Didn’t say we did. The point I was making is that the politicians didn’t go anywhere near reinstating it in the face of (apparent) overwhelming support. That is, they couldn’t give a shit. Ditto West Lothian.

  18. ‘Pens which Scots. Tim N. It’s what’d make the Nat dream of a resource rich independent Jockland so interesting. The majority of the population are basically Liverpudlians with a fetish for wearing skirts to sporting events & weddings. The majority of the area, provides those resources, has a population much closer to the Scandi mindset.

    Weeell. Yes and no. I fully agree that the “Scouse Scots” have far more in common with the Northern English than they do the Highland Scots, much less the Sheltanders and Orkney Islanders. But Aberdeen effectively imported an awful lot of socialist idiots from the English and Scottish heavy industries, who seem to be determined to send the British oil industry the way of the coal industry. I was amazed at how many of my otherwise intelligent oil industry colleagues voted for independence.

  19. We don’t know what would have happened in a death penalty (or any other) referendum; people can often change their opinions when it becomes a serious matter of debate rather than just being asked in a poll.

    Sure, indeed this is what happened with juries. When the death penalty was extended to vandalism of Westminster Bridge then juries would categorically refused to convict regardless of the evidence of the prosecution.

    So in the macro it is right to have the option and in the micro by having informed juries with the right of jury nullification legislative and prosecutorial abuse of capital punishment can be managed.

    The difficulty is that the political establishment is so organised as to frustrate the will of the people.

    This is why the likes of UKIP (despite the fact that they regularly drop the ball) are a good thing as they remind the main parties that they have no absolute right to govern.

  20. Dr Cromarty – Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Gilfillan, of Police Scotland’s Witchfinding Unit, said: “Witchcraft is often a hidden crime but witches live and work somewhere.

    “Landlords need to be aware of who they rent premises to and how those premises are used. If we find witches in rented premises, whether they are being used to run a business or house people, we have the power to close those premises down.

    “We know that witches don’t tend to come to police or other agencies for help. So we are determined to go looking for them.”

  21. I’d see the likes of Jim Sillars pop up on TV like a peely-wally Hugo Chavez, and think: “where have all the good Scots gone?”

    Let’s be honest: in which field would a high-flying Scotsman not leave for England? There will be some: oil and gas, for example. But in the main, the top-flight Scots will all leave for London, same as everyone else in the UK.

  22. Steve

    Yeah, that 30 hour week thing was a classic. Brought to you in part by “thinking pop star” and founder of “The Play Ethic” Pat Kane* a man almost as in love with himself as Russell Brand. There’s also significant input from the nef (not economics foundation), so it was never going to end well.

    *I curse his mother. Apparently she could only afford to send one of her sons to piano lessons and the decision was made by who got to the breakfast table first one morning. Gregor was the chosen one, leaving Pat to become the singer and gobshite in Hue and Cry. If only the teenage Gregor had slept in, Scotland may have been one “urban thinker” to the good.

  23. PF – sometimes I browse Comment Is Free and wonder if it’s April already.

    Tim Newman – in which field would a high-flying Scotsman not leave for England?

    Medicine, law, academia maybe. Plus, as Dick Jones of OCP once said: “good business is where you find it”.

    But yes, possibly the best career advice for any bright young Scot is “don’t limit your horizons to Scotland”. Followed by “don’t waste your time getting degrees in International Development”.

    Several generations of your most ambitious get-up-and-go types emigrating is bound to have an effect though.

  24. Mason,
    Blimey, I think you just proposed a new constitutional settlement.
    Scotsoilshire. ScouseWestshire. Londonshire,

  25. “Let’s be honest: in which field would a high-flying Scotsman not leave for England?”

    I can understand where you are coming from.

    Edinburgh used to have a world class finance industry: private investment houses, some top banks (long, long before Fred Goodwin/HBOS), some top rate insurers and pensions companies.

    Apart from the private investment firms, most are now owned or run by “foreign” companies. (And some of the more deluded Nats count London based companies as foreign). Although there are still significant offices left in the Scottish capital, most of the decisions are now made elsewhere.

    If I was starting my career now, and was highly ambitious, then moving away would be my first choice.

    (Although Edinburgh is still a pretty great place to live, which would make the decision a bit more difficult….)

  26. “Medicine, law, academia maybe”

    Yes, Scottish medical training and research is still fairly highly rated. Proper academec studies in proper universities (STEM stuff basically) is also sound.

  27. GlenDorran – Edinburgh is pretty great. Glasgow is too these days. Aberdeen is a smashing city, but crazily expensive to live in (that may be about to change).

    I’d much rather live in any of those places than London. Depending on how you define quality of life, Scotland has London licked.

    Cramming into the Tube every day with hordes of jostling commuters? No thanks.

  28. I’ve lived about as far north as Edinburgh (in Moscow, about the same) and the thing I simply could not deal with was short winter days. 4 hours, 5, with the Sun above the horizon? Just couldn’t cope.

  29. “I looked at Pat Kane’s Twitterings.

    I feel stupider for having read his thoughts.”

    Consider it my gift to you. He’s a permanent feature on all Scottish discussion programmes, and I’d be letting the side down if I didn’t let other people know of his existence.

  30. “I’ve lived about as far north as Edinburgh (in Moscow, about the same) and the thing I simply could not deal with was short winter days. 4 hours, 5, with the Sun above the horizon? Just couldn’t cope.”

    Even though I’ve known it all my life, I still have a reflex “really?” when the comparison to Moscow latitude is made.

    And Scots get through the short days in the same way as those in Moscow: fighting, drinking, dying early.

  31. Steve,

    “GlenDorran – Edinburgh is pretty great. Glasgow is too these days. Aberdeen is a smashing city, but crazily expensive to live in (that may be about to change).”

    I spent a few weeks working in Glasgow once and it seemed pretty good. But, I also had to travel out to Bellshill, a few miles out and it’s grim. The only place that I’ve been to that’s worse is Oldham.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about London. I’ll go there on a weekend to show the kids the Tower, but the best city I’ve been to is Bristol. It’s got all the stuff of a city – arts cinemas, fancy shops, top restaurants, but it never feels oppressive like London.

  32. Call me an alarmist and someone drawing an unfair and exaggerated example, but I’ve been recently on a Yugoslavia reading binge and I thought, is there a possibility of some kind of political crisis with our union that could lead to some actual nastiness.

    I mean if scotland did go independent and the orkney’s said, as I believe they do, want to remain part of the Union wouldn’t we be forced to send gunboats to protect them if forced against their will to join a new independent Scotland?

    I can see a potential for some serious geopolitics if the snp wreck a minority labour government this year and then things tumble into chaos?

  33. “Bellshill”

    Ah, one apex of the Buckfast triangle: Bellshill, Airdrie, Coatbridge. Three of the shittest of all shit towns in the Mecca for shit towns, Lanarkshire. Where the Labour councillors fight each other for sectarian reasons as there aren’t any other parties to fight with (can’t remember if it’s North Lanarkshire that are left footers, or if it’s South).

    When I lived in Glasgow I used to think that nowhere could be worse than North Lanarkshire. Then I moved to Edinburgh and discovered West Lothian. It may be some kind of scientific phenomenon that wherever I move to there will be a shit region next door.

    Agree with you about Bristol.

  34. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “Cramming into the Tube every day with hordes of jostling commuters? No thanks.”

    Ridden on the Tram then have you? Edinburgh is one of the nicest places to live in the UK. I just don’t know why the governments of town and region have hated it so much.

  35. Rob Harries:

    Three or four years ago I would have laughed at you making such a suggestion, but the referendum result has spawned a number of real loonies who talk in terms of “traitors” etc.

    I hope (and suspect) that it’s just a small number of nutters on Twitter, but I would worry if even a couple of them decided to take some more physical action. It wouldn’t take much for things to escalate.

  36. “Ridden on the Tram then have you? Edinburgh is one of the nicest places to live in the UK. I just don’t know why the governments of town and region have hated it so much.”

    Annoyingly, using the tram is actually quite a pleasant experience. Doesn’t justify the cost, waste and disruption though; in the same way having a swimming pool and spa in my two bedroom flat would be a nice experience but costly, wasteful, disruptive….

    I know what you mean about government attitude to Edinburgh – they seem determined to ruin it.

  37. I came off Twitter as there are some seriously unhinged CyberNats there. ‘Traitor!’ Is frequently flung around. As is the laughable “Our Imperial Masters”. There are some quite lunatic conspiracy freaks among them (thinking the BBC, MI5, the oil markets etc are all out to get them). The treatment meted out to Jim Murphy, Nick Robinson and Farage last year was worthy of the UAF thugs. I dare say there is some crossover.

    I have no doubt there is great capacity for it to turn very nasty indeed.

  38. ” The treatment meted out to Jim Murphy, Nick Robinson and Farage last year was worthy of the UAF thugs”

    As you’ll know, it wasn’t just the high-profile No campaigners who were targeted. Everyday ordinary people were getting abuse for expressing support for No in public. One of the contributors over at Samizdata has a piece about his experience.

    I guess it’s not a shocking discovery, and one that history has repeatedly shown: nationalism attracts some nasty people.

  39. There’s absolutely no reason why serious trouble can’t kick off here. It happened in Ulster. No reason why it can’t start north of the Border…or South.

    It just takes a few nutters, a few riots, a bit of panicked mishandling and things go downhill from there.

  40. Depends what you mean by turn very nasty.

    Welsh-cottage-burning-type stuff, yes.

    Yugoslavia, no.

    Half the British Army is Scots and most of them (IME) are British first, Scottish second. Anyone who tried anything i) couldn’t get their hands on any weapons anyway and ii) would be rapidly filled in and then ejected from the Army after a suitable period in Colchester.

  41. Ridden on the Tram then have you?

    I have, and it’s a fine piece of municipal engineering. Marred by the two great failings of municipal engineering – it’s almost pointless (doesn’t even replace the old No25 bus) and cost far, far too much.

    From CommonWeal:

    And by the time you reach the 75th person (so three quarters of every household in Scotland earns less than this person), even that household is receiving 13 per cent of their income in cash benefits.

    This must be crap, yes? At the 3/4 point in income, which seems to be about £30,000, they are receiving £4000 per year in cash benefits?

    That’s five kids if you take Child Benefit only.

  42. It may be some kind of scientific phenomenon that wherever I move to there will be a shit region next door.

    Agree with you about Bristol.

    The region next door to Bristol presumably being Wales…

  43. Sighs,

    I ran that passed entitledto.co.uk, for a family of four, Mum looking to go back to work as the 2nd sprog is now in primary school and Dad earns £30k (yes, I am a sexist bastard):

    Total Entitlements £4,246.82

    How did we get here?

  44. TW – On this point, and assuming you can be bothered, I’d be interested in your comments on “The Wee Blue Book” (www.theweebluebook.com), which gained considerable credence in Nationalist circles during the referendum campaign, and is still widely quoted North of the Border.

  45. The Wee Blue Book was written by one of the frothing CyberNats refered to above. He runs the ultranationalist Wings Over Scotland website. Think Ritchie with even fewer qualifications (he’s a former computer games journalist). Now he spends his time tweeting abuse about traitors etc.

    He basically went through all sorts of government/IFS publications. Some of it is ok, but in general it is full of misunderstandings, misinterpretations and downright lies. I wouldn’t waste much time on it.

    Anyone who tried to point out any errors would recieve the same treatment as Ritchie doles out, only with more swearing.

    I could quite easily see him running show-trials in an independent Scotland.

  46. Bloke in Wales,

    “The region next door to Bristol presumably being Wales…”

    The bit of Wales near Bristol isn’t too bad though, is it? Newport has unemployment around 5%, Cardiff’s quite nice.

  47. GlenDorran

    Agree. ‘Rev’ Stu Campbell, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, demanding Scottish nationalism and freedom from the yoke of John Bull from his bedsit in, erm, Bath.

  48. “Everyday ordinary people were getting abuse for expressing support for No in public.”

    Seconded from personal experience.

    This is why you saw so few “No” posters in windows – too high a chance of getting said windows “put in”.

    It will probably be worse next time.

  49. I’d have a bit more respect (than none whatsoever) for the buggers if they were Jacobites, rather than Marxist troglodytes whose idea of ‘independence’ is merely direct fealty to Brussels rather than via the UK.

    Of course the Bavarian house of Wittelsbach, who inherited the Jacobite claim via the Hapbsurgs, have always been far too sensible to pursue it.

  50. Oi, leave Swindon out of it! It may be a shit hole, but its my shit hole.

    Actually Swindon exists for one reason only – business. It grew from a little country town to one of the largest towns in the country on the back of Brunel’s railway works, and traded in the railway for other businesses in the post war era, and has continued its business based growth ever since. People come here to work, not to live in urban splendour. Its a badly designed town, with no real features worth mentioning, but the people are OK, and that matters more than buildings IMO.

  51. Sorry Jim, I couldn’t resist. It’s an old football thing. I followed Bristol City at the height of their enmity with Swindon Town (or Swindle Town as we called them due to their financial shadiness).

    I did a locum in the hospital there. I was impressed.

  52. Yes, we must shake off the hated yoke of the English and attach one from Brussels instead. William Wealas lives!

  53. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “in the same way having a swimming pool and spa in my two bedroom flat would be a nice experience but costly, wasteful, disruptive….”

    The children would love it though.

    “I know what you mean about government attitude to Edinburgh – they seem determined to ruin it.”

    It seems a long running problem. Even if you walk down Princes Street you can see what Edinburgh inherited and what they tried to do to it in the 60s. No doubt if the City Council had their way, Waverley would have been replaced by something like Birmingham’s Bullring. Still they have not given up. They just can’t get much approved these days.

    But I mean what is up with the Causeway building of the National Library of Scotland? Seriously, are these people mentally ill? You could write a paper on the slow decline of Scottish mental facilities based on the libraries of Edinburgh alone. In the 19th century, they built some very fine buildings indeed. By the 1920s they had problems. By the 1990s they should have been confined for their own protection.

    Surreptitious Evil – “it’s almost pointless (doesn’t even replace the old No25 bus) and cost far, far too much.”

    It is a nice way to get to town from the airport. But I assumed that if it was not a complete pork barrel deal where actual function is not important, then its main intention was to take tourists from the airport down Leith way, to, presumably, score some smack. But I hear they aren’t going to build that part. An expensive airport taxi then.

    Come to think of it, I have ridden on a few of the recent new tram systems. I quite like Manchester’s. But I was mainly confined to the centre of town. Birmingham’s and Nottingham’s both seem utterly pointless.

  54. SMFS:

    Have you ever seen the 1960s plans for “redevelopment” of Edinburgh? They seriously proposed to build a ring-road through the city centre. It would have gone over the Meadows and through Calton Hill. I know I said I’m against the death penalty, but whoever came up with that plan should have been hung from the Scott Monument, along with all their family, as a warning to others not to come up with anything similar.

    The 1960s abomination of the St James Centre is due to be torn down. It’s being replaced with another architectural “statement” which will be equally hated. They never learn.

  55. “It is a nice way to get to town from the airport”

    Yes, well, so is that bus that runs every 15 minutes from Waverley, goes pretty much all night, and costs about the same as the tram.

    So why did we need to spend £800m and bugger up the city centre for three years? I guess that must have been the pork barrel then…

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