Glass half full

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Righto then! I’m seeing some glum faces oot there in the aether and as your resident agony ranter, (whilst the gaffer is having a well deserved lie doon with properly made tea), I huv decided unanimously to look into this glass half empty problem and jot down some of my own thoughts. In fact the last time I saw some faces this glum, they were sitting on a pundits couch at PQ watching the 2015 general election results roll in.

Aye, it appears there are three main gripes which rear their heads on a regular basis. The meeja, which can be broken into a parts A and B type thingy – What can we do about them and how do we reach more people? Brexit – Why hasn’t it been triggered and what are we waiting for? Finally, if we’re already sovereign, why aren’t we independent right now? Why do we need anyone’s permission?

Three huge questions, with equally mahoosive answers I’d say, but we’ll have a stab at it in reverse order and keep it brief as possible. Let’s start with independence, sovereignty and permission.

I like to look at stuff from other perspectives whenever I can. Just for the sheer heck of it if truth be told and in this case I think it kinda helps. With the signing of the Edinburgh agreement and the commencement of the first Indyref, the sovereignty and right of the Scottish electorate to decide their own fate and governance has already been accepted I’d say. In fact, in my opinion, it appears the only folk who require to give any permission to hold a referendum or decide its outcome in Scotland… are the Scottish electorate. Right now we’re currently living with the consequences of the last time we asked that question of ourselves. A slim majority decided it wasn’t a good idea as it turns out and those dastardly baddies, the Essenpee government (Badness Inc.), have attempted to do exactly as they were telt by their own electorate and navigate administration in the aftermath. Vile… frankly (couldn’t resist). As to what that same government will do if they ask the question again in the not too distant future and they receive say, a different instruction from their electorate? Take a wild guess.

Worth remembering that above and beyond ANYTHING they personally desire, the SNP believe in and adhere to, the idea of popular sovereignty. They talk the talk and walk the walk where that’s concerned. They follow the will of the people.

Brexit is probably the easiest of the three to nail down. Partly because it appears to be a procedural  problem and partly timing. We’re well aware by this point that Cameron’s EU referendum was an ill conceived, badly timed and horrendously badly executed attempt to settle the festering divisions within his party over Europe. I reckon he also saw it as a way of hopefully putting the UKIP genie back in its bottle.

The Tories, over a period of years, created a particularly nasty and divisive media narrative of the EU and furriners in general and needless to say, what takes years to ingrain and manipulate cannot be undone overnight. We’re pretty much used to that in Scotland, so what happened next really shouldn’t have come as a huge shock to the powers that be in London. Brexit! A population fed on a diet of massively right wing media whose daily output of fear mongering, scapegoating and othering is considered the policy wonk’s ‘go to’ method of directing a voting agenda. Who knew that after a campaign led by dog whistle politics and misinformation from both sides, the public would opt for the dog whistle they were most used to hearing, reading and seeing in the media? We’d like to take a moment to thank the meeja at this point for making popular household names of Bojo and Farage over a number of years, but frankly I don’t think ah’ve goat the necessary, or appropriate, vocabulary. Bein’ a northern barbarian ‘n that.

Anyroads, TIME is what PM May now requires and as much of it as she get her hands on. Thanks to the aforesaid ‘ill conceived’ part of the recent catastrophic campaign, neither the Brexiteers or the Westminster government actually had a plan in the contingency of a Brexit win. That would be NO economic planning, either on home front or covering foreign trade, investment and crucially for many, subsidy replacement. I’d also hazard a guess that there was NO F.O. diplomatic planning in place and NO security strategy,  not a sausage it appears. So right about now I’d say PM May and her cabinet, those who haven’t been repeatedly slapped silly, are desperately attempting to repair the already considerable damage done by the Brexit vote to the economy as a starter for ten. They then must come up with an exit strategy/deal that won’t get them chucked at the next election by a decidedly grumpy electorate and hold what remains of the UKs international political status together with enormous amounts of duck tape and wishful thinking. Oh, and they’ve also got the small matter of an already grumpy next door neighbour whom they’ve just dragged, against their will and against specific indyref assurances, to the brink of exiting the EU to think about. No pressure then.

The second part is, I reckon, purely procedural. No indyref has been triggered because, at this point in time, we are not technically out of the EU. We may be under threat of that happening, but until article 50 is triggered (and we know the process is irreversible), it has not yet actually occurred. The chances of PM May avoiding Brexit though are slim and given her past, less than welcoming or inclusive, record and the very public nature of the referendum? The risks to not following through probably outweigh the alternative, though not by much. She is to all intents and purposes in the classic ‘Catch 22’ situation. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Finally, the meeja. What can you or the Scottish Government do about them? Well, nothing really. Or rather nothing to convince them of your case. They are who and what they are, which is to say (in the UK), fundimundilly opposed to the idea of an independent Scotland. Whether it is broadcast or print, state funded or private, the media is the orthodoxy and their views will always reflect that. They have a right to hold that view in fact and their output will ALWAYS, but ALWAYS reflect their interests and political affiliations. They don’t really have to reflect anyone’s opinion but their own. It may not be fair, or ethically 100% tickety boo, but technically they have every right to say ‘ALMOST’ whatever they feel like.  That’s democracy for you and of course having friends in high legislative places helps.

How and ever, as consumers, people don’t have to listen to or purchase their product and why should they? If the media don’t represent your views, or speak for you. If they misrepresent, or misinform you, then why should you support them either financially or publicly? Its a two way street kinda thing. You put your money where it will do you the most good and where you feel your views are being fairly represented. We have the beginnings of a popular new media out there and as it grows it will diversify and adapt to suit the modern market. It will only grow however, if you want it to grow. Worth remembering that every title, every broadcaster out there today, which comprises the ‘mainstream’, started somewhere with reader or viewer number one.

Equally as unbalanced at this time, is reach. No, our new media CANNOT compete with the sheer market coverage and penetration of the mainstream media. How could it? Last I checked our lively new media wasn’t awash in multi-billionaires with a media empire to exploit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You cannot take the media to task head on. Their pockets are a lot deeper than yours and their influence has been known to wreck governments. At which point you’re probably thinking ‘wur awe fecked then’. NOT SO mon braves!

Turn the question around. With all of their coverage, all of their money, all of their influence, all of the decades of media dominance they’ve enjoyed… Why haven’t they won you over? Why is the constitutional question still alive? Why is there a third term SNP government sitting in a pro indy Holyrood chamber? Why are there 56 pro indy MPs sitting on the Scottish benches in Westminster proving the only effective government opposition in the house? Why is there a burgeoning new Scottish media, (actively being a royal pain in the mainstream’s arse), which they can’t simply crush?

Because of you.

You and your need brought this new media into being. You threw a stone in a still lake and the ripples spread. You got the word out, advertised its existence, attracted readers and viewers with like minds looking for a representative forum. They in turn, attracted their friends and family, who told the next door neighbour, who told the postman, who told his missus, who told… others. Ideas and information spread, people became engaged, organized, active and decades of apathy and alienation were forgotten. One person, one vote at a time, the ground beneath Scottish and the wider UK politics began to move. All it takes is for one person to speak and another to listen.

You did all of that.

What else can you do?


Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984

0 thoughts on “Glass half full

  1. Wonderful stuff and inspiring Sam.
    The void of WGD’s short absence has, once again, been filled.
    My son was having a wee smile earlier on today as we walked the dog and I was dropping in a few little ideas as I was chatting to various neighbours in passing. Every little comment helps to enlighten.

  2. The arrogance of the Tories assuming the would win Remain is astonishing and with no backup plan even considered if Brexit,shows their weakness. The sooner re rUK wakes up to their ‘Devine right to rule’ attitude the better

  3. Just remember how far we’ve travelled in the last few years. There’s only one way this is going: independence.

  4. May has a lot more problems.

    Firstly there is the matter of limit to the patience of the the 27 other countries. Just how long will they wait around with everything in limbo while the UK dithers and delays.

    I watched an interview with a former EU official and he indicate that in addition to article 50, there are articles which cover dealing with a non-compliant member state. He referred to it as “the nuclear option” and thought that it would be invoked only with great reluctance.

    The sort of thing that might bring it on is the actions of the most vocal Euro-sceptics in Westminster. They have some really hair-raising ideas – for example as reported in this Express article:

    “Former Tory cabinet minister John Redwood has led a cross party group of MPs which has come up with a plan to get Britain out of the EU “in just a matter of weeks”.
    The simple solution, also backed by Labour Leave, would be to trigger article 50 by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and then informing the EU that the UK is no longer a member but intends to trade tariff free”.

    Much the same suggestion was laid out by the UKIP panellist during the Westminster Hour late last Sunday night. Since the BBC person running the show let it pass without comment I would not be surprised to learn that some Brexiteers are foaming at the mouth to get this on the Government program when Parliament reconvenes.

    I have not yet managed to run this by anyone with proper legal credentials but I suspect that any attempt to go down the path suggested by Redwood & Co – which amounts to a full breach of the EU Treaty terms – could well fall into the category of non-compliance.

    • think the nuclear option is article 7 of the lisbon treaty. its first clause states:
      1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2 .
      Art 2 says “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.

      So I suppose The UK dilly-dallying could be construed lack of respect for the other EU states.

      Anybody know if there is any truth to the rumour the EU considers the Referendum result as valid for only 1 year?

      So if art 50 is not activated by June 2017 does brexit (and Indyref2) collapse?

      And would the UK still be liable for sanctions as it would have breached article 2?

      • Interesting thought.

        My (very limited and decidedly non-legal) opinion is that failure to trigger (or (announce the schedule for triggering) Article 50 in a reasonable time-frame – within a year of the referendum, say – would clearly demonstrate a lack of respect for the interests of both the UK population at large (who voted) and for the other member states of the EU (who cannot readily proceed with EU business with this potentially Damoclean event hanging over the union).

        SO two options for the EU to push the UK off the bus: via monetary sanctions (withholding UK directed EU grants/disbursements would be relatively easy to execute) AND via legislative sanctions (barring UK members from direction-setting committees, and from voting).

        If the UK does not resolve its problems, there will need to be a general election. Pro-EU MPs will suffer at the polls (with even voters showing Euroskeptic tendencies – thanks to the meeja’s continuous stream of complaints about the evil EU pols being so mean to good old Blighty).

        That will result in Article 50 within 2 years, in my humble (and seriously uninformed) opinion.

        And that will mean Scottish independence very shortly thereafter.

    • You make very good, interesting points. We’ve escalated from, we live in interesting times, to in scary times, very quickly.

      A plan led by Redwood, who voted for the reintroduction of capital punishment. and bills himself as “Speaking For England”.

      His negotiating skills are more than lacking. Redmond on Scotland leaving the UK

      “It is true the two could share a monarch. The UK does not have exclusive use of the Queen at the moment. The two countries could not share armed forces, especially as the SNP part of Scotland has different views on weaponry from the rest of the UK.”

      We’ve so much to lose within a UK outside the EU. We must convince others of the benefits on Independence for Scotland.

    • AIUI the unilateral “repeal the European Communities Act” approach wouldn’t be a good idea for the UK, as it would be a violation of the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties.

      Since the Lisbon Treaty has a perfectly reasonable exit clause, if the UK was to just (metaphorically) stick two fingers up in the general direction of Brussels then it would be tantamount to the UK saying “We don’t respect the treaties and agreements we make.”. This in unlikely to result in the rest of the EU, or indeed the rest of the world, being wildly interested in making new agreements with us since we presumably won’t respect them either.

      Of course such details probably don’t bother the frothing wing-nuts …

      • Apparently facts are not favourable for wing-nuts of any variety.

        You see the same rhetoric (I use the word advisedly) from Trump (and from Tea Partiers) in the US. His statements have made clear that he regards ANY agreement or deal as being, at best, merely “a suggestion”, and that he could ignore or revise the US obligations at his whim (regarding NATO agreements, trade deals, indeed ANY agreement).

        This is not hyperbole: it’s exactly how he has operated his entire life – leveraging his legal power over small business contractors to retroactively change the terms of contracts after the work has been done is his stock-in-trade.

        And his Right Wing “opponents” include Ted Cruz, whose idea of good governance is to shut down the government.

        I used to think that the UK would at least maintain a degree of sensibility – largely as a result of the Civil Service working to ‘inform’ policymakers, ensuring that change was relatively slow – and the ability of the opposition to force a general election. yes – I used to be that young, naïve and starry eyed.

        • Could someone help me out? I’ve been hearing lately that one possible scenario is that Brexit is triggered, negotiations start and at the end of the process parliament votes on the result of those negotiations, decides it doesn’t like what it’s got and votes down the suggested settlement. Result: no change and we all go back to being happy Europeans. It seems highly improbable to me but I’m not very well versed in the Treaty at all. Can someone confirm my thought or is it a genuinely possible scenario?

  5. Good article and little to disagree with. However, there is one part of the media we are obliged to pay for whether we like it or not. Time for a coordinated campaign of licence fee non payment? See off the BBC by popular will, the way we saw off the poll tax?

    • Sounds like a sensible plan to me, Sandy. It’s not difficult to manage life without a TV.

      Thank you for your encouragement, Sam. We need a lift from time to time!

  6. My son works in a fairly high-up position in the Civil Service in London and when I asked him specifically about Article 50 and no plan, he reminded me that the Civil Service has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last 5/6 years and they simply do not have the man/womanpower to make plans for something that may not happen. He also said civil servants were working towards holding the Presidency of the EU and they work with their counterparts in the countries who precede and follow whoever has the Presidency so that there is some continuity.

    Presumably those civil servants will now be transferred to exiting the EU.

  7. On the question of sovereignty, this has been brought up time and time again. However, it is time that the Scottish people realized, once and for all, that, on the question of sovereignty, the supreme authority in Scotland is the Scottish people, a fact acknowledged by Lord Cooper as Lord President at the Court of Session in 1953: “The unlimited sovereignty of Parliament has no counterpart in Scottish Constitutional Law”. The English may be subservient to the English parliament, but the Scottish people are not subservient to any parliament.

    Regarding “permission” from the English government to hold another Indyref, such “permission” is not, and never has been, necessary. The only permission required is that from the sovereign Scottish people, and that is obtained from the Scottish people by their electing a Scottish government that supports independence.

    Moreover, any attempts by the English government to either block, or refusal to recognize the results of an Indyref would be a breach of international law, under which all nations have to total right to self-determination. Even the English, I assume, would not be so stupid as to be in breach of international law, and demonstrate to the world their contempt of democracy.

  8. You’re right, Sam. May is playing for time. But time is exactly what the SNP also need to build a majority support for indy. If May leaves it too long, she is doing the SNP’s work for them. But at then end of the day, when the A50 nuclear button is finally pressed, indy support will already be in the majority and will sky-rocket further still. There is simply no way a majority of Scots will wish to lose their European citizenship and all the benefits that goes along with it.

    • Let’s not forget that the UK Labour Party will self combust in September; the corollary of which is that the Branch Office will go into melt down too. Some would argue that it already has.
      I’ve been away at a wedding in Dublin for a few days. I catch up on the news here and WoS, and similar online sites. I no longer take or read the Dead Tree Scrolls, as to many thousands of others.
      It is getting to the ridiculous stage where Mercenary Hacks owned by foreign Masters of the Universe are producing arrant Unionist nonsense daily. The new improved Better Together Team will consist of Red Tories, Blue Tories, Jaundiced Tories, New New Labour Light Blue Tories, New New Dark Blue Exiteer Tories, and ….Wullie Rennie, smiling inanely at the cameras. ‘Pooling and sharing’ indeed. They’ll be laughed off the stage.
      We Scots citizens are a sovereign people.
      Self Determination is our birthright. Endov. Great reading your articles , Sam.
      The sun’s splitting the trees today. All is well with the world, for the meantime.
      Autumn should be a hoot though.

  9. There’s nae ‘agony’ in that insanely rational piece Sam 🙂

    (p.s. Can someone email, parachute, post, fire off…gie a copy of this tae Breeks? Ah fear he’s losin’ the will tae live over the constitutional aspect… 🙁 )

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