Illiberal Non-democrats

In my lifetime, Liberals have been the middlemen of politics, the sensible centre ground offering reason and light in the heat and fury of tribal politics. They sought peace and concord and applied a moral principle. So I was re-reading something this week which could have been a Liberal Democrat mission statement.

This is what the Edinburgh Agreement says: ‘The United Kingdom and Scottish Governments are committed…to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect.  The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit.  They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome.  The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.’

Here’s what the Scottish Secretary says on EU membership: “It is the view of the UK Government that article 49 is the procedure. That is not going to change.” And later: “I think that is a fox, the corpse of which is riddled with bullets. It is barely recognisable as a fox any more.”


Alistair Carmichael – crafting his own dead parrot allusion – has rejected out of hand the Scottish government’s argument for using section 48 relating to treaty amendments to effect Scotland’s EU membership. And this from a government which ‘refuses to pre-negotiate’. Well, it’s certainly true that negotiation is banned, but what we didn’t expect was that the decisions would be made unilaterally anyway.

We now have currency union unilaterally ruled out without negotiation followed by Scotland’s seamless EU entry blocked by diktat, again without any discussion between governments.

Now you may casually dismiss what Carmichael says on the grounds that he doesn’t enjoy a surfeit of respect from the voters barely any of whom have heard of him, but it’s worth considering the implications of his remarks to MSPs because they illuminate a trend in the Things Are Alright camp.

I don’t imagine the intricacies of EU treaties will sway many sensible Scots, you only have to follow your common sense to see what will happen if Scotland votes Yes and makes clear its determination to remain EU members. But the path Carmichael appears to have chosen is the most precarious and tricky the frankly irresponsible not just for Scotland but for Britain. Article 49 is for accession states, it is for new members who have not previously been members and are not members now….applicants who have had to work to meet the aquis, the exacting legal standards to comply with the rules. That is not Scotland. Undeniably and indisputably, that is not EU-compliant Scotland. You have to wonder that any proud Scotsman could willfully portray his country as less in stature than it actually is. So what does the Carmichael position mean?


If there is a Yes, it isn’t just a problem for the Scots but for London and the rUK which will help represent Scotland internationally. Will they choose years of uncertainty while Brussels contrives a treaty amendment requiring 28 in unanimity which essentially tells Scotland You’re Oot? (Wouldn’t that require member 28 – that is rUK – to join a vote expelling the Scots?) Meanwhile Britain’s internal trading relations are severely restricted, Scotland’s net contribution to Brussels stops, London has to undertake jointly with us re-entry talks which may well involve themselves as the rUK’s membership will also be subject to overhaul, an In/Out referendum looms and UKIP play merry hell. The upshot could well be a sickened England voting to withdraw completely from the EU stew. London will be at the heart of all this as guarantor of the referendum result – see Edinburgh Agreement above – and instead of fighting against Scotland, will be battling against the full force of the EU machine. That is, if they insist on following Article 49. It would be a self-inflicted wound that could lead to a long-term disaster for the whole of Britain and yet can be avoided by the adroit use of Article 48 which allows for treaty amendments and which eminent authorities deem applicable. Here’s the EU expert Graeme Avery: “The scenario of an independent Scotland outside the EU and not applying EU rules would be a legal nightmare, create social and economic difficulties for EU citizens, and deprive the EU of benefits of Scotland’s membership such as its budgetary contribution and fisheries resources. To avoid this unwelcome outcome, one may expect the British Government to espouse vigorously the use of Article 48 in due course.”

And yet the man supposed to represent Scottish interests in London merrily tells our national parliament that the simplest, safest route is now a bullet-riddled corpse. Without even the benefit of talks, mind. Just dismissed…by the arrogant and ignorant Liberal Democrat who has muscled his way into the top job and now uses his time to denigrate the very ideas that can secure his country’s future. At the same time he does disservice to the European ideals to which he pretends to subscribe. Talking down hardly covers it.

It was the same with currency. They foretold the future without conferring with Scotland first. Like Macbeth’s Three Witches, Osborne, Alexander and Balls dictated events. I liked this description of Shakespeare’s trio. ‘They represent darkness, chaos, and conflict, while their role is as agents and witnesses. Their presence communicates treason and impending doom. During Shakespeare’s day, witches were seen as worse than rebels, “the most notorious traitor and rebell that can be.” They were not only political traitors, but also spiritual traitors as well. Much of the confusion that springs from them comes from their ability to straddle the play’s borders between reality and the supernatural. They are so deeply entrenched in both worlds that it is unclear whether they control fate, or whether they are merely its agents. They defy logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world’. Precisely.

Carmichael’s absurdist position was amplified by his crass use of language. Lured by an questioner he may have been but it befits a clever politician to avoid traps. Not to realize he was stumbling into an odious metaphor betrayed the truth about a man bumbling around in unfamiliar surroundings.

Some of us remember Liberals as the consensual figures in our alphabet soup, the compromisers and co-operators who exuded reason. To listen now to Carmichael and the decidedly Tory –sounding Alexander is to feel the shock of realization that one was duped. Both men have produced what defence lawyers used to call a tissue of lies in order to mislead their fellow Scots into rejecting the one avenue by which they can take command and control their own affairs, what Liberals used to call Home Rule. Campaigning I understand. Lying I deprecate. These positions on currency and the EU are deliberately crafted misrepresentations paraded as fact and are proof that the Liberals have lost the conciliatory gene and joined the anti-Scottish alliance so completely that their party history will need to be re-written.

130 thoughts on “Illiberal Non-democrats

  1. Venice has declared 89% in favour of independence. The idiotic Dail Mail claims that it’s activists trained with the SNP and Basque/Catalan separatists. Que!

  2. John McMad. Rather than being smart why don’t you reply to my request that you explain how the UKwill be the weallthiest country in Europe? I wait with baited breath……

  3. Mm,

    Another letter re stating the position.

  4. So according to John McMad, Europe wants to cut itself off from the majority of it’s biggest resource, the North Sea.

    the EU council want to be able to sit round a huge conference table with a massive map of Europe and be able to delete the entire North West of the continent.

    No Norway, no Scotland. no Iceland. No access to territorial waters – no oil, no fish, no renewables.

    And an organisation designed to bring the people of Europe together in unity will reflect on this as a success ?

    Utter bunkum.

    They will be working hand over foot to make it happen.

  5. John, if the UK is one of the most successful and stable countries in the world why is there an independence movement in Scotland? And in Wales? There is even one in Cornwall! And why doesn’t Ireland wish to come back? Regarding the second city of the empire, the Irish were informed that Dublin was. Funny that, isn’t it? And if we are so successful, why can’t the press tolerate freedom of speech? Pop over to the Daily Record and you will see censorship on the articles regarding the latest Labour Devo proposals. Further to the UK being a success, why is it so in debt? And why is the economy in such a mess? And why is the UK not a full democracy, why is there still an unelected House of Lords? Regarding patriotism; it is many things to many people. To quote a bit of history; in times of crisis, e.g a war, the state is quick to call upon ordinary people to assist in the struggle. That was a show of patriotism. Was it reciprocated? Yes, in the immediate post war years. Is it still reciprocated? No. The UK is dismantling the Welfare State. It will dismantle the NHS. Has it earned my patriotism? No. The inhabitants of a nation and state are the beating heart of any nation. Not flags, not empires, not monarchies, not nuclear weapons, not seats at the top table of the UN. It’s the people. Let them down, as the UK has, and you have torn up patriotism for the UK and you then have those people looking for ways to make things better. The UK doesn’t represent me or my aspirations. If I were from Cumbria, Essex or Devon, I’d be feeling the same way. I’m from Scotland and I can see a better way to do things where. I’m going to take the chance for a better future, one that puts people at the centre. Yes!

    • We are near the top of every democracy and freedom index there is so most of what you say is fantasy. As for why is there an independence movement, there are independence movements in virtually every democracy so Scotland is not anything special. They exist in Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, USA, Canada etc etc. Its probably something to do with the fact that some people always need to find someone else to blame.

      • Or maybe it is only natural that folk want a government of their peers?

      • ‘We are near the top of every democracy and freedom index there is so most of what you say is fantasy.’

        Sure, we have the second biggest unelected chamber in the world of ‘peers’ who pass laws for us. That’s democracy at work for you right there ! We have no written constitution enshrining a person’s rights and we have a government that wants to take us out of the European Convention of Human Rights. They all support your theory….oh ..hang on a minute…?

        Seems to me the tables that we come near to the top of are things like inequality, poor pensions, debt, a rotten tax system, education, welfare and high energy prices.

        But no, that jolly old union flag will keep us warm in the winter, fed when we are hungry and give us all the education in the world we will ever need to be proper little citizens.

      • Tf. The lords don’t pass anything they merely scrutinise legislation and the elected House of Commons can use the prerogative to side step the lords if it wants. If you knew anything about constitutions you would understand that the unwritten constitution protects the freedoms of individuals far more effectively than any written constitution. We have had things like to bill of rights in this country long before the echr was even thought of. If you want to appear informed on the subject I suggest you sit down with a book on the uk constitution and how it works and take a look through the writings of people like dicey. Until you do that your opinion on the constitution are worthless.

        Ps, if written constitutions are so wonderful why don’t you tell me about other countries recent attempts to draw them up. You can start with Iceland, the word disaster comes to mind.

      • cynicalHighlander

        Yet more nonsense from your good self the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

        This will make you proud!

  6. John, sorry that the nasty Derek Bateman is blocking your links and you can’t be bothered posting again. Just give us a short resume of the “wealtiest” claim and we’ll all settle for that. Otherwise we are left with the feeling that you are making it up to bolster your bigger claim about the UK being some kind of Shangri-la.
    Visited a foodbank recently?

  7. I see the UK government has updated its forecast on non repayment of student loans with 45% now likely to be written off (up from 40%).

    The system of tuition fees and loans in operation in England (which Scottish New Labour MPs helped originate) is on the verge of costing the government more than the old system.

    The economy of the UK is mired in debt (partly through design) at both a public and private level.

  8. Carmichael said a lot of things, like admitting they are “advising” governments around the world against Scottish Independence. This from the ” Secretary of State for Scotland,”, which is truly abysmal.
    However, he said something else that I have now heard several times from the Unionist side, and that was the implying that the Scottish Government are wrong in taking the Edinburgh agreement literally!
    That would again imply, they do not take it seriously. If that is indeed their message, betrayal, again, is on the cards, given the chance.
    SG surely will not have missed this, they and we, need to be very watchful of underhand dealings against us.

    • The Edinburgh Agreement is nothing more than a device the SNP used to get themselves out of a rather large and embarrassing hole into which they so arrogantly swaggered: they needed a section 30 order from our Parliament in Westminster to make their referendum legal but had previously denied this was the case.

      The thing they couldn’t admit to their supporters was that, as a devolved administration with limited powers, they didn’t have the power to hold a referendum legally. Which is all a bit embarrassing for a party who try and pretend that the Scottish (ahem) ‘Government’ has equal power to Westminster.

      This is what happens when you operate in the twilight world of nationalist politics – a toxic brew of myths, grievances, boasts and misrepresentations: if only the SNP had been honest about the limits of Holyrood’s powers in the first place we wouldn’t have had to go through this charade.

      Now of course the Section 30 order has been served up to the SNP faithful as some kind of sacred document compelling the UK, EU and NATO to do the SNP’s bidding….

      • cynicalHighlander

        I hear that the Labour party in Scotland are having a closing down sale by offering reduced £5 membership till 18/09/14. Is this a collection for the wake?

  9. That John McMad, has he got a O.B.E., and lives way south of our border, I wonder?

    • He probably gets a paid salary from the British State.
      The internet has a fair smattering of the trolls.
      I notice however a lot of new pro Independence lads and lassies on line nowadays and more power to them.

      Vote ‘Yes’!

  10. I am just going to do that Alex, he is not worthy of one word. Let him linger without any remarks made to him. These People like Grahamski and McMad ruin comments sections given time. He reduced the Scotsman and the Herald to a place where no decent human wanted to go.

  11. Ruraidh

    I am a farmer too, I am also around the same age as you. Perhaps you would have been better actually realising what the argument was about before you jumped right in. This stems from me saying that I attended a farmers meeting discussing independence where vote was 59 to 1 in favour of no. Whatsisname can’t accept that because this meeting wasn’t mentioned on Facebook. If you really are a farmer you will know the average age is around 60 and these guys do not arrange meetings of things like local agric societies and suchlike on Facebook. Now perhaps you might understand what I was on about rather than taking needless offence.

    Your point about the CAP and Westminster is also looking at it the wrong way. Out of all the home nations we got the worst deal. The way I see it there are two possible reasons, 1 Lochhead and his cronies can’t negotiate to save their lives or, 2 they did a bum deal to blame Westminster and to try and get scottish farmers to vote yes. I am not the only farmer who sees it that way and indeed a highly respected authority on Scottish farming (who I will not name to avoid him getting harassed by people who visit this site) told me that in his view it was option 2. I also have a contact high up in SGRPID who has also told me the exact same thing. It all points to our industry being used as a political football.

    Mind you thing about CAP is that if the SNP are not telling the truth about a seamless entry into the EU there is the possibility that we may have a year to two without whatever is going to follow SFPE which means a lot of farmers will go bust. Add in not knowing what currency we will use, add in increased borrowing costs after salmond defaults on the debt, add in increased import/export costs if iScotland is forced to join schengen, add in Scotland becoming a net contributor to the EU after the rebate is lost, etc etc. Yeah, independence will be great for farming… Not.

  12. “Because we’re not fuckin’ interested John!

    You’re just regurgitating all the “Better Together” crap that’s already been countered many times, and by many very clever people.”

    Typical of the independence at any cost mindset. And who exactly are these clever people that have countered anything? As far as I see it yes hast lost the factual arguments every time, whether it’s currency, EU, defence, economy, you name it. That is why the white paper is barely mentioned anymore and it’s why all yes can do now is revert to nationalist type and play the man and not the ball.

    • Good grief! Are you guys still at it? It’s Sunday. Have a drink. Have a Lie down. Replay Johann’s speech. I just rode through Kelvingrove with my daughter. (And PLEASE don’t start a thread here about the CAP or I’ll grow my own potatoes) I’m a townie. Shouldn’t you all be feeding chicken remains to the hens or injecting cattle with growth hormones and modifying the wheat or something? Let’s face it, we’ll all be digging up grubs if we vote Yes. No?

      • Could you stop please. there is funny anthers puerile. Remember the blog is looked at by everybody including Unionists and this kind of drivel is unhelpful. why not tweet each other and leave the space for intelligent contributions. thanks.derek

  13. Back to the subject after being seriously pissed off by known miscreants. Good for you Derek.

    Does Carmichael know his role is to represent Scotland in the UK Cabinet and should he therefore be working his wee tartan socks off for the development of the aims and objectives of the Edinburgh Agreement, or does he see his role as being there to hole this very Agreement below the sweet blue water-line?

    It certainly did not escape the attention of the Shetland folk who tossed him out on his ear with an increased YES support after his presentation for BT and if there’s any truth in the rumor that he’s not for standing at the next GE, could this be because he’s got a sniff of the ermine dangled in front of his snout for services rendered to HMG and ergo, not particularly for Scotland?

    All very lib-dem-esque and in glorious technicolour too, so who’s a big sooky plonker then!

    The good folk in the Lib-dem heartlands must be truly shaking their heads in despair watching Carmichael, Alexander and Scott strutting their self-seeking paths all around the place and doing nothing for them.

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