Now that Alistair Darling has bottled a debate with the First Minster, I am at a loss for words to describe Mr Darling..
Perhaps an image will suffice.
It is clear that the emotion within the Independence debate is reaching new heights of passion.
This is evidenced by the noise generated from the Main Stream Media (MSM) who have been shouting loudly from the rooftops, throwing insults and falsehoods at the Yes campaign.
To their credit, the Yes campaign remain focussed while under sustained attack from the Unionist press, Radio and TV.
But while we all spray ourselves with Teflon and carry on regardless something has been forgotten in all the mudslinging, and that is the blatant attempt by the No campaign to dehumanise a sizeable part of the Scottish people. The most obvious example of dehumanisation is the use of the term “Cybernat” by the opponents of Yes.
A Cybernat is identified with those on the Yes side of the debate who challenge Unionist views through the use of Social Media. I’m displaying all the hallmarks of a Cybernat by typing this blog. I’m using new media to call into question the “accepted” truths of the Union. I’m contributing in my own small, often inarticulate way, to the Yes campaign. Unionists do not like this relatively new phenomenon and seek to attack the Yes online movement.
When the term Cybernat was first coined by the No campaign, I actually thought it a compliment and a badge to be worn with pride, but now it’s become something more sinister. It’s an insult, a derogatory term and it is as equally offensive (because it is meant to be offensive) as better known derogatory terms.
From a personal perspective, I still wear the term with pride, but in the back of my mind I am very conscious of the hatred that is being channelled through the use of the word.
It is a hatred. Hatred of Yes supporters who have chosen to challenge the lies and misinformation that are the building blocks of Unionism. By undermining the foundations of Unionism the Yes supporters are attracting the hatred and fear of Unionists.
So now that we have “Cybernat” languishing in the lexicon, seemingly at ease alongside other insulting terms, perhaps it’s time to look at the term in more detail.
I don’t intend to examine the meaning of the term, but to understand the level of intended abuse that use of the term implies.
Some Unionists absolutely despise Yes activists that challenge their lies and misinformation. It’s a new experience for Unionists to have their long held position challenged. The online presence of people prepared to stand up to the lies, to forensically examine Unionist statements and policies has brought the Unionist world to a point where their bubble has been well and truly burst.
It is a frightening, scary new world for a Scottish Unionist and scared people react in predictable and well understood ways. They coin insulting terms to hurl at their opponents.
When I was very young I remember my father telling me that insults and jokes aimed at Irish people were a result of fear on the part of the joker or person throwing the insults.
In Scotland we are all wearily familiar with terms that are used in this sense and I won’t pollute my blog with those words. Those terms belong in the past.
The N word is another term which is often used disparagingly, it suggests that its target is extremely unsophisticated, its usage has become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur usually directed at black people. Thankfully this term is heard less often, thank goodness.
Yet the term Cybernat is used disparagingly by Unionists. It is pejorative and the building blocks of the term, the very foundations of the word, whether it is typed on a computer keyboard, uttered in certain company or printed on paper, are those of hatred.
In many respects the on-going use of the term by Unionists can be viewed as a litmus test of the No campaign. The constant use of a pejorative term to describe your opponents in a debate is hardly the stuff of optimism. The No camp are plainly extremely worried by their prospects or lack of them.
But what about the hate, the venom, the malice that is running through the No campaign, what on earth are we to make of it?
Is a desire for a better Scotland such a bad proposition, is the desire for more socially just solutions and fairness to tackle Scottish society’s ills so distasteful that the people who are proposing this future are regarded as fitting targets for abuse?
It would appear so.
I actually think it is a very sad reflection of Unionism, surely the supporters of the Union deserve to be represented in a much better way.
There is actually a further danger in all of this mud slinging by the No campaign. While they are trying to dehumanise a portion of the Scottish population with the use of insult and smear, they are actually doing exactly the same thing to the No support. By association, the No supporter becomes viewed as someone with little tolerance or compassion. This is completely wrong but Better Together seem to be either blind to this or content with this additional outcome.
As a Scot, I don’t want well meaning No supporters tarred with a brush wielded by Alistair Darling and his team. Ordinary Scots are better than the level of debate that the No camp are prepared to drag them down to.
If one thing is crystal clear in the Independence debate it is the sheer contempt in which Better Together- No Thanks- UKOK hold all the Scottish population, both Yes and No.
If there were to be one positive outcome from all this abuse that I would wish for, it would be for the No supporters to wake up to the real victims of abuse in all of this; the No support itself.
Quite simply; all the Scottish people deserve better than Better Together, regardless of the outcome of 18th September.
Remember the Pope’s comments on Scotland the other day? I read them and actually didn’t think much of them. The British press, true to form, spun them and launched them against the Yes campaign. No surprise there. I basically yawned, stretched and went back to my book.
Yet there was something that stuck in mind.
Where on earth is Padania? The place was mentioned along with Scotland and Catalonia.
Now I pride myself on pub quiz questions and being able to answer them, but I couldn’t think where Padania was. So after a quick Google I now know it’s in Northern Italy and, this is where it becomes interesting; there exists a political grouping, the Lega Nord, demanding more autonomy, or even independence from Italy, for Padania.
Now isn’t that a coincidence.
Because I haven’t seen any comment on the Pope’s mention of Padania I going to assume that this subject has been overlooked or ignored by the media. Strange that.
The Pope is an important World figure, in fact they don’t come much bigger, so why aren’t the media leaping on his comments about the possibility of Northern Italy becoming Independent from Southern Italy? I would have thought that this was news worthy stuff, after all Italy is not exactly an obscure European Nation, it’s pretty important in European and Global terms.
I smell a rat, or more specifically, I don’t smell a rat because everyone in the media would appear to have forgotten to bring some enlightenment on the subject of Padania to the ignorant masses, i.e. us, the paper buying, TV watching public inScotland.
So why on earth would Padania and the Pope be considered as not worthy of a few paragraphs in the Record, or on BBC Scotland? Could it be that the similarities with the Scottish Independence debate are just a tad to similar?
A well off Northern entity is sick of subsidising a less well off Southern entity. A Northern people are somewhat disillusioned with what they see as a tired political system that doesn’t service their needs. Parallels? The Pope hints that he thinks so.
Tell us as it is Mr Media or alternatively sweep it under the carpet and hope that we won’t notice the deliberate omission.
Ooopps, I think I just did!
As expected the BritNat nasty’s have started to deploy the whole collection of dirty tricks. The British Establishment has form in this area, after all we are talking about an imperial legacy of taking over other people’s countries, exploiting these territories and then being mightily reluctant to give them up or back.
By it’s very nature Scottish society has the potential to make the job easier for these desperate Unionists.
But first let’s briefly examine what is at stake from the perspective of the Unionists.
Like any organisation, the Unionist entity has a pyramidal structure, with the top being occupied by the professional elite, i.e. the MPs, the MSPs, the Special Advisors and assorted employees and hanger–ons. These people make a living from the Union; it’s a meal ticket, it pays the mortgage, puts food on the table and fulfils career ambitions.
Your average Unionist MP will have a very healthy income, subsidised accommodation, foreign travel opportunities and gilt edged career pathways. He or she can go all the way to the top with the power and privileges that this can bring.
We should never under estimate the sheer unadulterated power of individual greed and personal ambition that drives the Unionist agenda. It’s a top down effort, with those at the top of the pyramidal structure delegating down through the ranks to activist level. Unfortunately it’s not a reciprocal return on investment for those involved in the Unionist party machine. It’s only those at the top who will feast on the spoils and reap the benefits. It demonstrates the utter ruthlessness of the Unionist elite. The foot soldiers are cannon fodder for the generals. The foot soldiers are blind to the way that they are being lied to and manipulated. It’s a very sad reality.
For the Unionist Elite; the Murphy’s, the Alexander’s, the Scott’s, The Carmichaels, the Lamonts and Darlings, the Union must be saved or it’s career extinction. The poor, the vulnerable, democracy, the truth, it can all go hang.
When the stakes are so high then the rule book is torn up and anything now goes, which is why we have witnessed recent events such as Pottergate, Lallygate and assorted Cybernatgates being spewed out by the Unionist machine. To be honest most of these faux outrage plots have been pretty innocuous, mere paper tigers when examined in the cold light of day and each looked at in isolation.
However it’s the modus operandi or more specifically the chink in the Yes armour that is of concern. We should be cautious and wholly cognisant to what the game plan actually is.
Scotland is a tribal society. We are a nation of colours.
There are tribal political loyalties; Labour, LibDem, SNP, Tory, Green etc.
We are all familiar with football tribal attitudes, so I don’t need to go into any detail on them.
There are regional tribal divisions; historically they have been described as Lowlands and Highlands, but this is no longer accurate. We have a Central Belt, the Borders, the East centred on Aberdeen, the islands, Western and Northern. Even within this it can be broken down into City or town loyalties.
We have income tribes, those with and those with less, indeed we have those with nothing at all.
It has always been thus in Scotland. We might not acknowledge that it exists but it certainly does. It influences where you go for a pint, where you shop, the kind of clothes you wear or may choose not to wear. It can be recognised in the dog you call your best friend; is it a Staffie or a trendy Labradoodle?
And therein lays the potential problem, because if you are a Post Imperial Elite fighting for your very existence then you’re going to fall back on the old tried and proven methods of Empire.
Divide and conquer can and will prevail if we allow it.
So what exactly is the game plan that underpins Pottergate and Lallygate?
Dipping into academic sources reveals the plan.
In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.
Machiavelli identified a similar application to military strategy, advising that that a Captain should endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making the enemy suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker.
In other words, standard British Establishment technique.
Better Together or No Thanks or whatever they, the Tory led Establishment, are calling themselves this week, are attempting to drive a wedge between the Yes campaign and the people of Scotland. It’s dirty, it’s probably unfair but it’s happening. Forget the anger and the outrage; out play them at their game.
The great weakness with applying a Machiavellian Divide and Rule strategy is that once you have revealed your Strategy, then it can be countered. It’s actually a sign of grave weakness because it betrays a campaign that is built on quicksand.
All we have to do is follow a few simple rules.
We keep calm.
We keep being clever.
We remain focussed.
Most importantly we keep our humour. Let us laugh at this, because if we step back and look at Better Together objectively we can see that they are extremely weak. It’s all talk and no trousers.
And they are very, very scared.
So whatever is lying in wait next, to jump up with fabricated outrage, to attempt an ambush on the Yes campaign, just laugh it back under the rock where it came from.
There are bigger fish to fry.
We have a country, a nation, a people, a society, a way of life to win back and no amount of dirty tricks is going to divert us from the prize.
As my Father used to tell me; Keep the Heid!
I care a lot about Trident. It is a murderous weapon of mass destruction built with the sole aim to deliberately and in cold blood kill millions of innocent people.
I care a lot about the Bedroom Tax. It was created to target vulnerable people, to deprive people of living space and as a consequence it hits the poor and the disadvantaged especially hard.
I care a lot about Broadcasting. I live in a country where the national broadcaster, the BBC, funded by ordinary viewers and listeners seeks to influence a democratic debate by taking sides in that debate. Journalistic balance is compromised and the whole shoddy enterprise is paid for by the viewers. This is happening in a so called democracy.
I care a lot about Child Poverty levels in Scotland. It is a fact that 1 in 5 children in Scotland are brought up in poverty. A shocking statistic. it is an incontestable fact that Child Poverty is at it’s highest levels in Labour controlled areas.
I care a lot about the NHS. Thank goodness it is a separate entity within Scotland or we would witness the creeping privatisation of this service as we see happening in England.
I care a lot about wars. The UK Government is fond of wars and thinks nothing of treading roughshod over the truth and democracy to fight wars.
I care a lot about education. The Scottish Government has made access to education a cornerstone of Scottish society. Scottish children are not burdened with debt and the standard of education is high.
I care a lot about the older people within society. Care for the elderly is another keystone of Scottish society, another achievement of the Scottish Government.
I care a lot about a healthy Democratic system, where representatives are voted to a chamber by the electorate, NOT appointed by government, given access to large amounts of expenses and given titles that belong in the middle ages and not in the 21st century.
I care a lot about Social Justice. The state should provide a safety net for those in society who are not able to help themselves, whether it is because of a lack access to jobs, or housing. The needy should have access to benefits to give a helping hand when needed. The state should give, not take away. The state should fix, not create additional problems.
I care a lot about Freedom of Speech. Where the mainstream media is set against your democratic wishes, where journalistic professionalism is ignored, where bias is tolerated and all this made to work against a part of the population whose only wish is to have their voice heard. The ability to express displeasure at these circumstances and to challenge the accepted Establishment view is vitally important through the use of new social media. Denied a voice through the usual channels I will be heard and I will not be called, Evil, Malicious, or Nasty in an effort to stop my democratic freedoms.
I care a lot about corruption in local government. Scottish society is poisoned and undermined by the activities of Labour politicians in local government. This corruption is conveniently overlooked by broadcasters, the media and Labour Party apologists.
I care a lot about Scotland.
I DO NOT CARE about JK Rowling, who, through her support for Better Together and the Labour Party, shows that she DOES NOT CARE about the subjects that I CARE ABOUT.
So we have had President Obama and Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, expressing concerns about Scottish Independence. We needn’t be that concerned. The whole charade was staged. That’s how international diplomacy works; you call in favours, make deals and scratch backs as and when required.
It was intended as a distraction. Better Together are struggling and they needed a breathing space to regroup and refocus.
There are, of course, many, many matters that Better Together would rather the Scottish people forget about, one of which is Child Poverty levels in Scotland. An unacceptable level of 1 in 5 children in Scotland live in Poverty and Scottish Labour created and perpetuates the problem.
Save the Children has also identified Scotland as having a problem with Child Poverty.
The Guardian ran a story on this in 2012, with an interactive map.
Surprise, surprise; the constituencies in Scotland where there are the greatest rates of child poverty are all Labour.
Margaret Curran, Willie Bain, Anas Sarwar, Ian Davidson, Tom Harris and Jim McGovern all benefit from Child Poverty levels. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that these politicians owe their careers to artificially manipulated poverty and deprivation in their constituencies. A quite perverse situation.
When viewed from the perspective of the Scottish Independence debate this can all be represented in a straight forward equation.
Scottish Child Poverty = Labour MP = Better Together
So when Obama or anyone else is wheeled onto the stage by David Cameron to talk about the Scottish Independence debate, please remember that it is a smoke screen disguising a rather murky truth that the Tory Party/Better Together/Labour Party would rather hide away.
We should expect more of this as the Referendum Campaign goes up through the gears and 18th September gets closer.
The Tory funded Better Together camp, fronted by Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, John Reid, Gordon Brown and various other Labour Unionist die-hards actively work hard to ensure Scottish child poverty levels are kept artificially high. In Scottish Labour’s twisted, cruel view of the world, poverty creates a dependency culture which they believe ensures a Labour politician will be returned in elections to represent the particular constituency. Equally they will call in favours from the likes of Obama and Bildt, through their boss David Cameron, to make vocal diversions designed to mask the real issues.
Remember that while we may expand energy on anger and justifiably feel frustrated at the interference from people, who we feel should not be involved in our referendum, behind the scenes Johann Lamont, Darling and Sarwar are probably giggling up their sleeves.
Lamont, Darling, Sarwar and co desperately want Scottish Child Poverty levels to remain high, they just don’t want us to be focussed on the subject and they certainly don’t want us to be raising the issue as a part of the referendum.
Here’s another simple equation;
Yes = Independence = an end to Child Poverty = a Labour Party nightmare.
Ignore Obama and Bildt and keep working on the winning the prize!
Alistair Darling, the head of the “No” campaign for the vote on Scottish Independence, has compared Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond to the former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il – and went on to describe “Yes” supporters as driven by “blood and soil nationalism”. During an interview with the New Statesman, the former Labour chancellor was also accused of agreeing that “blood and soil nationalism” was “at [the] heart” of the independence campaign.
The phrase “blood and soil nationalism” describes a belief in borders based on ancestry and a connection to the land, and as “Blut und Boden” it has become widely associated with the rise of the Nazi party in 1920s and ‘30s Germany.
Quite a statement from Darling!
The New Statesman originally quoted Mr Darling as saying: “At heart it is blood and soil nationalism. If you ask any nationalist, ‘are there any circumstances in which you would not vote to be independent?’ they would say the answer has got to be no.”
The New Statesman later issued a correction stating that the phrase was “raised in conversation but not used directly by Mr Darling”, and a transcript was included where, asked if the Scottish National Party (SNP) represents “blood and soil nationalism?”, the MP allegedly replied: “At heart … [inaudible mumble]”.
The words of Darling have created a storm of criticism and anger from the Yes camp. Quite understandably so, given that Darling has been very quick to criticize the Yes camp in indulging in less than savoury campaigning. In the Observer he was quoted as saying, “The cyber-nat activity is disgraceful. “They will trash anyone who disagrees with them. Their intention is to make people keep their heads down. Salmond could stop it, but he doesn’t choose to.”
So claim and counter claim.
As an avid follower of the Independence debate I know the truth of the matter. The greatest amount of bile comes from the No side and it’s not restricted to ordinary supporters. High profile media commentators and Unionist politicians regularly indulge in insulting comments about the Yes campaign and they particularly single out Alex Salmond for abuse.
Darling is seeking to personalise the debate and to probably bait Yes supporters with his inflammatory language.
So let’s look at these two key politicians. What do I, a fairly typical observer, see as their respective achievements that have brought positive change to Scotland?
Let’s start with a brief look at Alex Salmond.
Under Alex Salmond’s leadership the Scottish Government has introduced a steady stream of genuinely positive changes into Scottish life.
Freezing council tax must be seen as a real help to thousands of hard up citizens across Scotland. In an economic climate where everyone is feeling financially under the cosh it’s not often that a Government actually brings in a policy that actually puts ready cash back in the hands of the voter. But that is exactly what the council tax freeze has done. It deserves accolades from all shades of opinion.
The boosting of police officer numbers is another real and tangible policy that has been achieved by the Scottish Government. Community safety has rightly been seen as of importance to the electorate, with all the benefits that the increase in police numbers will bring to actually preventing and dealing with offences.
As a parent I can personally vouch for another prominent policy, namely scrapping student charges. The signal sent out by the Scottish Government that education is of paramount importance for Scottish society was received loud and clear. The message that Scottish society is aligned, through a change in Government policy, to honour and support education should be an example set for all future policy makers.
Perhaps most importantly, the Scottish Government, under the leadership of Alex Salmond, gained the trust of the Scottish electorate and achieved a landslide election victory in 2011, which of course, has brought Scotland to a referendum on Independence on September 18th 2014. Talk about honouring and sticking to election pledges!
Whatever the result of the referendum it will be a win-win situation. If the Yes vote prevails it will usher in a new chapter in Scotland’s long history.
If No wins, then it will be seen as an endorsement of the Union and the continued participation of Scotland within the United Kingdom.
Democracy will be the big winner whichever way the result goes and that has got to be a positive for all those who participate. In the event of a No vote, then it will be the leadership and members of Better Together who will take the laurels.
Again it will have been because of the leadership of Alex Salmond, and his government actually delivering on promises, that the Scottish people will have made their choice.
Which brings me to Alistair Darling. How does he compare?
Let’s start with a very brief biog.
Alistair Darling has been a Labour Party member of parliament (MP) since 1987, currently for Edinburgh South West. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 to 2010. Darling was one of only three people to have served in the Cabinet continuously from Labour’s victory in 1997 until its defeat in 2010.
Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Darling was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1997, moving to become Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 1998. He became Secretary of State for Transport then Secretary of State for Scotland. Prime Minister Tony Blair moved Darling for a final time, to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 2006, before Gordon Brown advanced Darling to Chancellor in 2007.
Quite a CV!
I must admit that I cannot think of any single, momentous achievement that could be defined as life changing, from that long list of jobs in High Political Office. If I’ve missed something then I’m happy to be corrected, but I suspect that any achievements by Darling were wiped out by later events (see below).
Darling is the leader of the Better Together cross-party group that are campaigning for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. Unbelievably he addressed a fringe meeting at the Scottish Conservative Conference in June 2013. The Tories applauded their man loudly and enthusiastically.
We should also point out that Darling is in effect being employed by the British Government and working directly for his boss David Cameron. What ever way the Better Together management pyramid is sketched, it’s hierarchical model always leads back to the man in charge; one David Cameron, Conservative Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. Darling is now working for the Tories!
In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Darling changed the designation of his second home four times in four years, allowing him to claim for the costs of his family home in Edinburgh, and to buy and furnish a flat in London including the cost of stamp duty and other legal fees. Darling said that “the claims were made within House of Commons rules”.
My personal view on the expenses scandal is that an offence was committed. I don’t buy the excuse that the claims were made within House of Commons Rules. Darling manipulated the system for his own financial gain. It was as immoral as it was wrong.
His peers within the Westminster System were in agreement.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, criticised him by saying: “given that very unique responsibility that [Darling] has [as Chancellor], it’s simply impossible for him to continue in that role when such very major question marks are being raised about his financial affairs”.
On 1 June 2009, Darling apologised “unreservedly” about a mistaken claim for £700, and had agreed to repay the money. He was supported by the Prime Minister, who referred to the incident as an inadvertent mistake. The Prime Minister was Gordon Brown. Says it all really.
The Financial Crisis
Alistair Darling was the Chancellor when the UK economy went into meltdown. There have been vast amounts of words devoted to the Crisis, which basically boil down to a simple question.
Was the Labour Government, with Darling as chancellor, responsible?
Here’s one way the argument is framed from the Darling’s camp;
The large increases in the deficit in 2008/09 and 2009/10 were not wholly due to higher levels of discretionary spending. The public finances were then being squeezed by the effects of the international recession on tax revenues (with the UK being particularly affected because of its large financial sector) and consequent increases in social security payments. At the time, it was also thought that demand had to be maintained in order to avoid an even deeper recession than might otherwise have occurred.
A quick dissection of this can run thus;
…. with the UK being particularly affected because of its large financial sector. Don’t be stupid enough to have a one trick pony of an economy. Diversify. Did Darling do this? No, he didn’t and so he is complicit in the shambles that followed.
…. it was also thought that demand had to be maintained in order to avoid an even deeper recession than might otherwise have occurred. Darling at the helm just employed bad planning and forecasting, if indeed he employed any meaningful intelligent foresight at all.
Darling got the UK into eye watering debt that has hit virtually every citizen within the UK, never mind those suffering in Scotland.
Even the rest of Europe saw the UK’s debt as a matter to be concerned about. During the General Election of 2010 the European Commission waded into Britain’s election debate on the eve of polls warning that British public debt was expected to be higher than any other European Union country that year. Darling was at the helm.
Brussels economic forecasts predicted that debt would account for nine tenths of the British economy’s total value by the end of 2011. Guess who as the helm?
The UK was predicted to have the highest deficit in the EU at 12 per cent of GDP at the end of 2010 and the figure was expected to decline “only slightly” due to the weakness of housing and financial markets. Do I need to remind you who was at the helm?
If you’re interested, the legacy of Darling is still with us. Not only did he open the door for a Tory led Government but the debt keeps climbing.
I know which of these two politicians, Salmond or Darling, get’s my respect.
Despite all the problems that Darling brought us, he’s still out their unashamedly making a few quid on the side, despite the ill tempered language, the insults, the failed economics, the financial disasters and the expenses scandals.
If you’re looking for a motivational speaker for your barbecue or daughter’s wedding, you can always book Darling;
A perspective from Nairnshire.
This blog contains my ill informed opinions around politics and other issues. Please feel free to comment and debate. My opinions are strictly my own. This blog supports Scottish Independence.
Dedicated to those who have let Scotland down
Some thoughts on politics by a supporter of Scottish Independence