Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Scottish Referendum and the Attack of the NO Side Bullies

There couldn't have been an uglier sight. Thousands of members of the anti-Catholic Orange Lodge marching through Edinburgh to show their support for the NO side.

Or one more representative of the NO side's attempt to bully the YES side into submission.

For by now the combined forces of Big Business, the corporate media, and the Westminster political establishment have tried everything to crush this peaceful people's revolt.

The crudest threats, the most absurd predictions of doom like this latest one...

All designed to scare people into voting NO.

And the good news is that at this point at least it isn't working. 

The 307-year-old union between Scotland and England hangs by a thread as a fresh Guardian/ICM poll put the yes vote in next week's referendum just two percentage points behind those supporting no. Despite an intense week of campaigning by pro-union politicians and repeated warnings from business, the poll out on Friday found support for the no campaign on 51% and with yes on 49%, once don't knows were excluded.

And while the NO side is still leading by a slightly greater margin in some of the latest polls, the contrast between the two campaigns couldn't be more striking...

For this was a YES side rally in downtown Glasgow yesterday, where hope was still holding its own again fear.

Because despite what you might be reading in our corporate media, which is solidly NO, and still confusing what's happening there with the Quebec referendum.

And where one of its members, Andrew Coyne, is proudly displaying his colonial colours...

As I would expect from the son of a Bank of Canada governor who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

The struggle in Scotland is for the right of a small country to determine its own future, be proudly left-wing, resist the brutish neoliberal agenda of the Con regime in London.

And stand up for such basic institutions like medicare, which the Cameron Cons are privatizing, and could eventually kill.

Even in Scotland where it is strongly supported.

If/when the NHS in England were to be fully privatised, its current annual budget of almost £100 billion will cease to trigger a corresponding “Barnett Formula” payment to Scotland, removing approximately £10.2 billion a year from the Scottish block grant. That’s almost all of the annual £11.9bn budget of NHS Scotland. It’s more than a third of the entire Scottish Government budget of £30bn, and vastly more than Holyrood could ever save by cutting other services.

Because that's the kind of truth you won't read in our corporate media, who when push comes to shove is violently opposed to a proudly left-wing society. And will do or say ANYTHING to destroy it.

However, even in that bleak media landscape, and even in The Guardian which has also revealed its true colours by endorsing the NO side, there are signs that the campaign of fear is backfiring. 

Thanks to BP, Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, TSB, John Lewis and the mad Gadarene dash to Scotland of the Westminster elite, the final few days of the journey which had once promised to be rocky have been a breeze. I am grateful to all of them. Together they are a microcosm of what the entire no campaign has been all about: money; raw corporate power and a naked sense of absolute entitlement. So I will be voting yes for an independent Scotland on Thursday, with a confidence and certainty that, until last week, I would never have thought possible.

For what I have witnessed are the massed ranks of the British and Westminster establishment roused in fury to stop the first-ever proper challenge to their power base. And their weapons of choice have been intimidation, fear and thinly veiled and sinister threats of reprisal.

Because it has been entirely disgusting and soul destroying, a case of bullying and psychological terror on a mass scale.

And a real horror show... 

And while it's no doubt scaring many in that small country, especially the elderly. And it could very well make the difference in a NO victory.

It may also be driving other Scots to join the YES side, and decide that the dream of a kinder, gentler society is a risk worth taking.

If it is the will of the people that Scotland becomes independent, I am not expecting any guarantees that we will become the most rock'n'roll, socially just state on the planet, a successful Cuba. But there are already visible signs of Scotland's social conscience in free care for the elderly, free tuition and free childcare. Independence, with all its risks and uncertainties, may give us the chance to extend that and to reach those among us who die early in unimaginable poverty and deprivation. Even the mere opportunity to do so must justify the economic risks.

Because as I've mentioned before, the Scottish people are not easily bullied. 

And even when their dreams of independence are slaughtered as they were on the bloody battlefield of Culloden, not far from my family home...

Where it is said the birds don't sing and the heather doesn't grow over the graves of the highland dead.

And where when I take visitors there I always leave a bunch of wild flowers at the tomb of my clan ancestors who were cutdown by the English cannons that day...

That dream of freedom never dies, it always rises again, as it will even if it is defeated again in this referendum.

Because this too is true...

And Scotland's peaceful struggle is a model for progressives all over the world.

Which is of course why I support the YES side so strongly. Because their dream is the same dream I want for this country. And because I hate bullying more than I hate anything else in the whole wide world, and their Con enemies are mine.

So go forth bravely people of Alba, for the past and the future.

Charge the cannons of Big Business and the brutish Westminster regime.

Don't let fear kill your hopes and your dreams.

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.

Scotland forever !!!!

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  1. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Hi Simon, great post. I can't believe that so many Orangemen marched through a place like Edinburgh to support the no side. It certainly says something about the no side, and it's not good.

  2. hi anon....thanks I'm glad you liked it. It certainly comes from the heart. It has to, my head is too weary. ;) As for the swine from the Orange Lodge, I was raised as a Protestant, but many of my friends are Catholic. And I vividly remember visiting one of them in Belfast in and around July the sixth when the orangies celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, and being utterly horrified. For the night before the parade they light huge bonfires all over the city that turn the sky orange in a clear attempt to intimidate the Catholics, who are practically barricaded in their neighbourhoods by the police in an attempt to keep the two sides apart. So those orange thugs have always been bullies, and seeing them march through Edinburgh almost made me VOMIT. Especially since about one in five Scots are Catholics. But hopefully it will make it abundantly clear who exactly is on the NO side...

    1. Anonymous11:04 AM

      This march by the Orange Lodeg is exactly what I predicted. Xenophobic 'patriotism" raising its ugly head.
      It Scotland seperates this will get ugly, both inside( slightly less than 50% of the population will be very unhappy) and outside the new 'country". I have spoken to Brits in England and they are angry and perplexed.
      I think both sides of this debate can be accused of "scare tactics' and blatant propaganda.
      Politicians from either side will say and do ANYTHING to further their cause.
      Never forget that.
      Just because your rooting for the Yes side doesnt mean these politicians are as well intentioned as your would be led to believe. I've found that most politicians are self serving and power hungry.
      This current batch of politicos may be great but who will come after them , and after them.
      Ghandi started his new country India down the right path after seperation and then he was assassinated by one of his own. India isnt a paragon of virtue now. Far from it.
      Harper started out as a seemingly rational leader and look at what he's morphed into...... I need not say more.
      Politicians, I wouldnt trust any of them as far as I could toss them.
      This will not end well.

    2. hi anon...There will no doubt be bitter feelings after the vote no matter what happens. Just like during the Quebec referendum, it has divided families mine included. But the Scots are a very stable and practical people, not usually driven flights of fancy, and do not usually have their heads in the clouds, unlike yours truly. ;) So I expect any wounds to heal quickly, like they did in Quebec.
      As for the politicians, while it's true they have to be watched closely, when you have a non partisan movements to keep them honest, they tend to behave better. Because that really is the biggest story of the referendum campaign, the massive engagement of people in the political process. And when you have a healthy democracy, al things are possible...

  3. Hi Simon, tried to post this earlier but it may not have made it...

    Have you seen this video:
    It's two lads in a rickshaw jeering at some Labour Party bigs in Glasgow - there to save the union. The lads call them "Imperial Masters"
    The video's a bit long and you'll only need to watch a minute or so.
    Some of the commenters think the guys are paid provocateurs. maybe. Still, I can't imagine anything like this being allowed to happen in Canada.
    P.S. Orangemen's Day is July 12th not the 6th.

    1. hi scotrock...yes I've seen the video and I linked to it in a previous post. I thought it was hilarious, although I wished the video was bit shorter and the guy in the rickshaw hadn't handled the bullhorn and the camera at the same time. Lordy.
      But it did symbolize the new and exuberant spirit of Glasgow, which I noticed when I was there during the Commonwealth Games. It really was something to behold.
      As for forgetting that it was the Glorious Twelfth, not the Glorious Sixth, I blame exhaustion. I'm still recovering from the party to celebrate the death of Ian Paisley. On that same trip to Belfast as a teenager my Catholic friend and I smoked a joint and went to one of Paisley's services at his church with the red hand of Ulster in the courtyard. And as soon as we sat down I knew we had made a BIG mistake. Paisley's bodyguards were hovering around us, and the man himself was staring at us, screaming, and pounding a Bible that was as big as a HOUSE !!!! I don't know how we made it out of there, but it took us a full day to recover, and I had nightmares for years. But yeah, times change and the future has never looked brighter...

  4. Anonymous10:05 AM

    And, lest we forget, the current, highly edited and biased form of Protestantism was actually forced upon the people by another inbred, diseased, sadistic and witless mutant of an english king who was allowed to play god with the very lives and souls of the people he "reigned" over. Sort of like an earlier version of harpie or the frod brothers in the hubristic attitude in that if they do it, it's automatically legal and right. I was raised Protestant too but it was not the kind of hateful, murderous shit that these guys hold dear. They make me ashamed to be white and Protestant.

    1. Anonymous1:26 PM

      Hah! That description of the King of England made me smile.
      I remember about 30 years ago when Prince William was a toddler and he was being disiplined at his daycare. He was 3 or 4 at the time and threw a huge temper tantrum and screamed at the matron who was forcing him to sit quietly. He screamed, " When I'm King! I'll have all your heads cut off!"
      It made the tabloids the next day....hilarious.
      Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

    2. hi anon 10:05...yes those Orangemen really are hideous, and I noticed that they were joined by a large number of fans from Rangers the traditionally "Protestant team" from that city. And they really are the bottom of the barrel anti-Catholic bigots. I know because while attending a game in Glasgow years ago, and cheering for the so called "Catholic team" Celtic, I got stabbed with a blade by one of them while defending a Catholic friend. So as you can imagine I have no time for religious bigotry...;)

    3. hi anon 1:26...well that explains EVERYTHING. I've always believed that Harry would have made a much better successor... ;)

  5. I don't understand why people keep comparing this referendum to the Quebec vote. Given history and geography, Scotland is no more similar to Quebec (except for the English influence) than it is to Czechoslovakia or Sudan.

    1. Anonymous1:46 PM

      Hmmmm, Well lets compare the two.

      Scotland and Quebec rely on the british form of Parliament and the british legal system.

      Sudan cuts your head off for being a Christian that has tried to convert a muslim to Christianity.
      The former Czechoslovakia has a Presidential form of govt and their legal system escapes me.

      Scotland was "conquered" by England about 300 years ago.
      Quebec was "conquered" by England about 300 years ago.

      Scotland has a larger Catholic following than England.
      Quebec has a larger Catholic following than Canada.
      Scotland shares the same currency as England
      Quebec shares the same currency as Canada.

      Scotltish citizens have British passports and can work anywhere a Brit can.
      Quebecers have Canadian passports and can work anywhere a Canadian can.

      Both referendums were/are "peaceful" votes to separate from their "host" countries.

      Both referendums were/ are too close to call in the final days.

      A successful referendum descision in both countries would create many unanswered dillemas which may, or may not be resolved quickly and peacefully.

      Foriegn countries are alarmed and perplexed as to why both these "areas" of the "host countries" want to leave.

      What part of these similarities do you not see?

    2. hi UU4077....There is nothing that irritates me more than people in the MSM who should know better comparing the two referendums. With the possible exception of the losers in the PQ claiming this will revive their moribund right-wing separatist option. But here's the ironic part. The NO side did faithful copy the handbook of the No side in Quebec, including the the slogan "NO Thank you" or " Naw Thank you."
      And it may cost them the campaign. Because it was a different time, and t is a different referendum...

  6. hi anon...look there are some similarities, although I think you stretch the point. But as I've pointed out before this referendum is happening in a very different world, post 911 and post Great Depression. And while the Quebec referendum was more about asserting Quebec's nationhood, the one in Scotland is more about being a centre-left country, in a Britain that is becoming more and more right-wing. It's a pushback like the one in Sweden where a left-wing bloc today defeated the centre-right government. And the fundamental problem many Scots have is that they can't do that, because although there is only one solitary Con MP in the whole of Scotland, they are outnumbered by English voters and keep getting Con governments whose values they don't share. If you were caught in that situation wouldn't YOU want to separate?

  7. Perhaps a better comparison is Scotland and Canada, which brought its own constitution home from Westminster in 1982 and created the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Notable that while the No argument is all Please don't go baby I promise I won't do it again nationalism, the Yes argument is based more on political self-determination than on nationalism.

  8. Yesterday we all worked for the East India Company.

  9. e.a.f.6:39 PM

    Christ on a stick, what are Orangeman doing in Scotland. anyhow that is where the Presbyterian church started. Like what does religion have to do with a yes or no vote on whether to remain part of not so great Britain. Lets leave religion out of it. Its just so messy.

    I do hope the PQ is taking good notes while they are over there. Once the trade agreement is signed with China, Quebec might want to give some thought to leaving Canada and the agreement behind. I for one would move to Quebec. Better in a China free Quebec, than a China controlled Canada.