danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

A serious thought about the EU Referendum and the possibility of a second Scottish Independence referendum.

I was, and am, in favour of Scottish Independence within the EU.

I was, and am, in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU.

I wish I could have both. If we can not have both I think we should pick the EU over the UK.

Ideally, for me, Scotland would become independent from the UK whilst both were in the EU. There would be a natural and pre-existing trading arrangement. We (Scotland) would have to ride out a few years adjusting to running our own country, getting a workable currency and setting our tax rates right. It would be difficult in the short term but I think, on balance, probably, better economically and politically in the medium term. This is a guess not a promise and I might be wrong. Other people thought so and I respect their thought processes and their right to their own values and risk preferences.

But we don't live in an ideal world. There appears to be no sweet spot where we can have easy trading relationships with both the rest of the UK and the other 27 members of the EU. The next few years are going to be economically challenging in exactly the same way as Scottish Indepdence was always going to be. Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy we have to make the best of the situation we are in today, not the best of the situation we thought we were in a week ago. We have to go forward from where we are. Where we are, today,  is in flux, with both peril and opportunity on all sides.

And so, it might now be the case that Scottish Indepedence as  part of the EU is the best option for my country even if it wasn't when the rest of the UK was an EU member state.

If that is the case I think we should do it quickly. To quote the first and greatest British playwright

"Thereis a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of theirlife is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

and

"If it were donewhen 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly"

The position of the SNP before the EU referendum as I saw it was a) to reserve the right to hold a second referendum to Scottish people, and b) to actually wait until there was a pent up demand for independence. Fair and resonable under the circumstances in my view. But slow, so slow, so flat footed.

I think those circumstances have changed. We have a very strong vote for Remain in Scotland. Is that a proxy for a vote for Independence? Maybes Aye, Maybes Nay. There's only one way to find out soon. And find out soon we must. There is an opportunity for Scotland to profit from England's error. If we move quickly, quickly to establish a firm invitation to remain in the EU, quickly to hold and win an independence referendum and then quickly to set our trade and taxation policy so as to predate on England's uncertain future by encouraging international businesses currently located in England who want an Anglophone location in the EU to relocate to Scotland rather than Ireland. Which if they are going to do, they will do sooner rather than later.

Are the people of Scotland up for this? Only one way to find out. If we wait until we are certain the opportunity to walk away from the implosion of the UK with at least our own country and economy and people intact will be gone.

So I think Sturgon should get on a plane and fly round every European capital and ask them to jointly and severally invite Scotland to stay in the EU. If successful she should announce a referendum to be held before Christmas. If that is for independence then we negotiate SExit alongside Brexit and stay in the EU.

If unsuccessful we are not any worse off. If we wait to see how damaging Brexit will be and how that actually affects public opinion the damage to us will be done and the opportunity to ameliorate that damage with some prudent, sharp business will be lost.

To be clear - I am absolutely advocating that we (Scotland) conspire to stab our closest ally and dearest friend in the back. Et tu Scotus. We should not stand with them whilst they try to work out how to be a non-European nation. We should take advantage of their distress to prosper ourselves. What choice have they left us? What choice have we left ourselves.

I vote for #IndyRef2 within six months.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
This isn't a prediction but more of a prior or a baseline.

As you sow, so shall ye reap and sometimes you are not the harvester but the harvest.

If Scotland is to become independent and pick up any benefit of businesses wanting to keep an Angolphone office inside the EU it will need to become independent within the EU pretty fast. I'd be disappointed if Sturgeon wasn't on a plane to Brussels and Bonn today.

Indyref Part 2 within a year. Yes wins by a narrow margin. Scotland opens popcorn but realises it actually has some work to do so sells the popcorn. Watch the predatory corporation tax rate and the subtlely lax banking regulation. (Let's hope we have the sense to keep some of the tax revenue back for the next crash.)

Chaos in the Tory Party. They either need to back off the central plank of their economic policy of reducing the deficit through spending cuts or they need to magically make the economy not be affected by the referendum result or admit that their economic credibilty is worth about as much as the pound. So, the emergency budget will be devisive - for them - and brutal for the working classes in the North of England and the Midlands. I'd expect May to emerge at Tory leader and the next PM.

Chaos in the Labour Party. Corbyn is utterly pish. Essentially backed Leave.  I thought he'd manage to communicate with people and shift the Overton Window a bit but it feels like he's sitting at his desk writing strident blog posts, filing his paperclips and gazing at the pin-ups in the Morning Star. However, the Labour right hasn't re-organised in to a coherent post-Blarite grouping and, to be honest, doesn't have much in the way of quality to offer either.

I think we probably avoid a snap general election. Jeez, that would be messy.

Plan A - we (they) end up having a second EU referendum post exit negotiations on the question "Do you want to stay in the EU or take the actual deal on offer?"

Plan B - Britain (aka England) gets left to dangle for a year or more and ends up in the European Economic Area but on pretty strict terms, probably including Schengen. (I personally won't be sorry about this. I like the EU, I like free movement, I like every closer union and being forced to join the EEA will be a much needed punch to the nuts of post-imperialist little Englanders. Also, I'll be living in a post-independence Scotland.)

Those are not our Plans A and B but the German's Plans A & B.

Ten or twenty years after England joins the EEA it votes to rejoin the EU finally shorn of its illustions that the rest of the world owes it any favours.

The working class of the North of England and the Midlands continues to be slowly evicerated by the Conservative Party. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a hand-made Italian brogue stamping on a face, forever.

But not I think in my country.
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
Well I’m very disappointed. I think Scotland has made a grave error and we’ll have cause to regret it sooner rather than later and for a long time.

So where next?

Well for me I’ll be working on Unlock Democracy’s campaign for a citizen lead constitutional convention. If we don’t ask we won’t get.

I’ve been very impressed with the work that the Electoral Reform Society Scotland have been doing with their Democracy to the Max initiative. The more I experience it the more I value genuinely participative and genuinely deliberative democracy. Or user defined quality as I describe it to myself.

I think it’s time to re-join a political party. That party isn’t going to be the Labour Party.


And honestly, I’ll be dusting off my Australian passport. If I’m going to be living in a neo-liberal hellhole I’m not going to be doing it with Nigel Farage. I’m going to be doing it somewhere I can eat prawns five times the size of the prawns I get at home and sit on my veranda looking over the Adelaide Hills sipping a nicely chilled glass of local wine whilst my son spins a rugby ball or a cricket ball through the warm evening air.


For politics in Scotland?

I’d like to hope that many of those newly engaged or active in politics in Scotland remain so. We have a UK general election in a little over six months from now and a Holyrood election in just over eighteen months. So plenty for people to get involved in. Both Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society are gathering signatures demanding a citizen led constitutional convention.

I am very sceptical that the promises of further devolution will come to much. I think it’s difficult to marry up the sort of powers that Scotland requires to remain part of the Union, the aspirations of Wales and Northern Ireland, with the current thinking on devolution in England. I don’t think there is enough time to do the necessary consultations and deals even if you exclude a citizen lead constitutional convention from the process. Bluntly, I don’t trust the Labour Party or the Tory Party to bother themselves or to get themselves into uncomfortable positions over this.

And the obvious protest vote if you don’t like the Westminster parties is UKIP.

I hope I’m wrong but I’m still waiting for Lords Reform.

I think the biggest losers in the Indy Ref campaign have been Scottish Labour. The Better Together campaign has been dire. Not only relentlessly negative in a way that has resulted in them telling their own voters over and over and over again that they shouldn’t hope for better and couldn’t cope with it if they got it but operationally poor.

The Better Campaign, Tory Money and Labour Bodies, has been operationally and strategically appalling. If they have saved the Union, they’ve only just done so. Personally, on balance, I’m of the view that we’ll be doing this again in about 2026.(1) The cost of that is that they’ve damaged their ability to operate in Scotland, become associated with the Tories and given the SNP a stick to beat them with. Footage of Johann Lamont running down Scotland is going to appear all over the interwebs in April 2015 and April 2016. Well, two sticks. Here come the Tory enabling Labour Party. Every taunt the Labour Party has directed at the Lib Dems since 2011 is now fair comment for the SNP everytime the Labour Party appear.

What they have done is split their activist base. Quite a few Labour activists appear to have been excited by the independence message. These people will be viewed as close to traitors by some in the Labour Party. Glasgow, the home of the Labour movement, voted for independence.

Fundamentally, they could have avoided 1.6m people voting for independence by sorting out a decent devolution package in 2012.

And operationally, they’ve been poor, again. They barely seemed to have turned up on the ground for the campaign which I think is indicative of a deeper malaise in the Labour Party. They were forced to rely on three Westminster politicians to spearhead their campaign, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and, like an anaemic ghost of Duncan, Gordon Brown. I think they will lose seats at the next UK general election.

So, I expect the SNP to continue as the natural party of government in Scotland and to continue to face utterly inadequate opposition. Whilst I am in favour of many SNP policies and I think they are a competent government I’m not happy about them being left entirely to their own devices.

So all in all, not a great result in my view.

(1) Timetable based on

2015 UK political parties fail to actually deliver further devolution for Scotland because they can’t agree on a workable way of devolving further powers to England and baulk at allowing Northern Ireland the tax varying powers NI wants to compete with the Republic.

2016 A pro-independence government is re-elected in Scotland. I’m not predicting a second SNP majority government. I think the Greens will do better than last time and the non-environmental left might actually get themselves into some order in Glasgow again.

2016-2020 Nothing much happens.

2020 Having governed for 13 years the SNP run out of steam and lose the 2020 Holyrood election.

2020-2024 Still nothing happens.

2024 the SNP and other pro-independence parties gain a majority at Holyrood on a platform of “We told you so.”

2026 18 months after the 2024 Holyrood election we have Indy Ref Round Two.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Yesterday, I was catching up on a bit of Scottish independence referendum chat.*

I came across some talk** of Orkney and Shetland making a counter bid for indepedence.***

It set me thinking about what the minimum size of a practically independent nation-state is. There appear to be lots of institutions that nation-states need one of. Not necessarily a large one of whatever it is but definitely one. Difficult to be a nation-state if you don’t have a diplomatic service. Then there are a bunch of things that a nation-state, or any community needs access to. A police training college, someone to write regulations for hotel health and safety. Someone who knows how to buy fire engines and lifeboats.

I’m not necessarily thinking about the minimum size to have an economy large enough to afford these things or to afford to buy them in. Orkney, for example, is likely to have significant oil and fisheries and renewable energy to sell.

But with a population of 20,000 would Orkney have enough people to do all the things that needed doing? And, if it contracted out a lot of services does being reliant on (foreign) suppliers for a bunch of important stuff undermine the idea of a nation-state.

Two examples. An Orcadian diplomatic service that wanted to set up embassies in the top 50 countries Orkney wanted to influence, with 5 staff in each embassy would require to base abroad more than 1% of the population of Orkney.

If Orkney contracted with, say Scotland for access to the Police Scotland training college for the training of the Orcadian Constabulary how much of the culture of the Orcadian Constabulary is actually the culture of the Scottish Police and therefore determined by the government and people of Scotland?

How big do you need to be in order to be large enough to do in-house enough of the things that shape and project your national character?****


*To be honest I’m not paying that much attention to the substance of the debate. I’ve already made up my mind pretty firmly. I’ve come to terms with the necessary ambiguity and uncertainty. No new information that might reasonably be expected is going to change my mind. I want to avoid getting in to an argument with my wife about it.

** Often this talk is by some agrieved English person and is along the lines of “Ha, ha, just you wait Scotland / Salmond (for the two are interchangable like the Kim family and Korea), just you wait as soon as you leave England, Orkney will declare independence and take all “your” oil with it. Then you’ll be bankrupt like Zimbabwe. Ha, ha, ha.”

To which the only rational response is, “Cheers, cheers for that. Perhaps we’ll manage to not treat Orkney like some second rate provence or the personal fiefdom of second rate Labour politicians and, if we fail, well, we’ve still got a higher GDP per capita than you, so I reckon we’ll be just fine thanks all the same.”

*** Which I think they would be entitled to do and I can see why they might not fancy being run by the Central Belt.

**** If indeed that is a thing you want to do.

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