One bonobo's view of the world...and stuff.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Are Devo...

Scottish Independence has never really been a touchstone issue for me. I coukd live with it. I can live without it. Recently, though, I've come round to the idea that it would be 'A Good Thing'. Moreover - I think there's a good chance it's going to come about in the not too distant future.

Scotland is traditionally egalitarian and communitarian - and hence the Labour vote has been pretty much guaranteed. But various things have changed:

  • Iraq, sleaze, general Westminster Labour incompetence and a lack of public faith in their stewardship of health and education.
  • New Labour's lukewarm support of the devolved parliament.
  • The parliament's qualified success. Yes, there was the building scandal, yes it's largely toothless - but on various issues it's shown a 'JFDI'* attitude which contrasts with Westmister. As one trivial example - smoking.
  • The West Lothian which the obvious answer is 'Don't worry...we'll sort it out for you.'
  • An incipient English backlash against uppity Scots (cf a similar attitude of "It's one rule for all these Muslims..."). This is illustrated by The Gordon Factor - English voters are openly pondering whether a Scottish MP should be the 'English' prime minister.
  • An increasing cultural gulf between (broadly) welcoming Scotland** (see this heartwarming example) and petty Little Englishness.
  • Accession to the EU of various small but viable countries. Plus the presence of new Polish neighbours amongst us has reminded Scots that they've been migrating for years themselves.
  • A continuing Westminster focus on the economic development of the South East of England alone. In comparison...don't things like the Scottish proposal for a Glasgow/London high-speed rail link seem A Good Idea?
  • Trident. Gordon Brown plans to keep Faslane at ground zero for the forseable future. Jobs at Faslane notwithstanding, this will not be popular.

So the next Holyrood election (May '07) is likely to be interesting. The consenus on Jack McConnel seems to have been that he's done pretty well (And whod' have imagined? We thought he was just a time serving party man who'd got lucky!)...but on the whole, Labour*** has lost much of its shine. In England, the Tories are bound to pick up votes from those easily conned or with short memories. That could never happen in Scotland. The Lib Dems may pick up a few votes, but they as coalition partners they have a certain guilt by association. It is likely then that there will be a considerable swing towards the SNP. They've come on in recent years. Alex Salmond is popular and highly regarded. They've been consistently anti-war - none of the Lib Dem shilly-shallying of opposing until the war actually started. They've thrown off their Tartan Tories past and are to the left of New Labour, who are obviously shit scared of them (John Reid has even been so desperate as to use the terrorism angle)'s my predictions on how the independence snowball will roll:

  • SNP/Green/SSP coalition (they'll probably be able to tell the LibDems to fuck off).
  • Constitutional crisis in England. The backlash will intensify.
  • Gordon loses the General election, spring '08 (or only narrowly wins if he goes for a snap one in October '07)
  • Salmond holds a referendum, against Westminster opposition (This opposition will be the deciding factor).
  • Independence by '12.

It will be a painful process - for England. The negotiations over Oil and military bases will be tough (Scotland will want a small, defensive military; England won't want nuclear submarines in Devonport). And then...somehow we'll make it work. Or, at least, not fail too drastically.

Vive la république!

Speaking of Polish migrants...Over the last few years, employes have increasingly used migrant labour to undecut pay and conditions. But Poles know a thing or two about trade unions. Such things truly gladden the heart!

* Just fuckin' do it.
** But let's not be entirely conned by the cosy myth that "There's no racism in Scotland - only bigotry."
***Note to English readers: The Scottish Labour Party doesn't use the word 'New'.

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