Saturday, 20 September 2014


So the dust clears. Nothing much has changed except, as everyone should have been able to predict, the "vow" of more powers (an unwritten devo max but so vague that it fooled many when it should have fooled none). Already we are told the Barnett Formula, which does not take into account oil revenues (obviously - because that would mean Westminster having to swallow humble pie), should be cut. The effect this would have on Scotland - the first country to strike oil and become poorer, is unthinkable - especially since those in the remote Highlands and Islands require travel to hospitals and in some cases air supplies of medicine. Then we have Ed Miliband, recognising that Scottish Labour MPs would be castrated of their voices in David Cameron's sly plan for 'English MPs to vote on English matters', opposes the sort of devolution that would achieve this. We all knew this - those of us paying attention anyway.

Last Tuesday I was in Edinburgh and followed Miliband's walk around the St. James Centre. The media wanted to picture the YES camp as comprising thugs and flag-waving loonies. However, devoid of such examples, they simply made up their own story. I tweeted some of the journalists involved in this to try and correct their story (including everyone's favourite partiarchal, 'gay-tolerating' liberal Mehdi Hasan). I was ignored. It doesn't matter that I was there [see picture below] and all that happened is a scrum of media made it very hard for anyone present to move - with one cameraman almost smashing me in the face with his equipment. No, no - the media had an agenda and, as a result, Ed's inability to move among cameras and broadcasters became a story about the Labour leader being threatened by YES voters.

This is the first time I was present at an event reported nationally - and I saw the way the press will distort, and lie, about anything if it gives them the story they want. Shame on Hasan, The New Statesman and others for running with this piece of fiction.

I even recall a woman in a wheelchair being let through by YES supporters whilst the media trampled and shoved in her direction to photograph Miliband. In one newspaper report this was retconned as YES supporters almost knocking over the disabled lady in question - a hideous lie. I was there. I saw the YES camp apologise and try and let her through an enormous and inconsiderate Fleet Street mob. As Ed Miliband took to speaking to one reporter a YES campaigner said "you're lying Ed" (reported as "you're fucking lying" by many in the UK media - another untruth). Ultimately, Ed was lying - but the news reports stated that this heckling was an example of an apparently ugly "end of days" nationalism. The same news stations which, today, have refused to cover the unionist brutality in George Square, Glasgow - and which the BBC reports as being a stand-off between two rival camps. The Torygraph meanwhile is aghast that one of its obnoxious, public school, conservative reporters - the odious, shockingly-haircutted Ben Riley-Smith - was not permitted entrance into Alex Salmond's resignation speech, as if it was his utmost right to be there.

So what went wrong?

In retrospect it was probably a few things. A recent poll indicates that NO won handidly among those over 54. As such, the YES side was onto a losing battle from the start - this was the generation of the Empire, who probably got all teary eyed at the Hong Kong handover of 1997. You cannot change the opinion of those who believe that the UK stands for something greater even when, as of 2014, we are basically a fairly irrelevant little island in the Atlantic.

I also wonder about the currency question. Alex Salmond needed to win over those who were on the upper middle class side of the scale and that is those who have their own house. The threat of finding out that your property might be worth less, should a currency union not happen, is - understandably - a dauntng thing to ponder. The fact that, without a currency union, Scotland may (or may not) have to enter the Eurozone was also, no doubt, a worrying prospect for some. In truth, an oil rich country - and I repeat again that Scotland is the first country to strike oil and become poorer - not being able to balance its own notes is something of a joke. But Alex Salmond only really needed to answer and establish this once - PLAN B: a new Scottish currency, possibly pegged to the dollar (ala Hong Kong).

Still, this was a battle fought on fear.

It was fear of the unknown. Fear that we might have progression but to do so would mean the worry of the worth of your mortgage. Fear that the currency you use would change. Fear of losing a fictional identity - "British" - which 20 years ago meant people in Hong Kong and today still indicates the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and sundry other parts of a dead Empire that few voting NO will ever venture towards. That idea of "British" is redundant, despite a NO voter friend of mine indicating it means Bowie, Tom Jones, Billy Connolly and Liam Neeson - people who have as much in common with each other as the residents of Britain's old Cantonese-speaking island had with, say, Mao or Deng Xiaoping.

Still J.K. Rowling can still tell people that NO was the right way ahead - safe in the knowledge that she, like many of these rich celebs, will never struggle to pay rent or never worry about their bank balance. And that is what NO really represented. It represented looking after ourselves and shunning the progressive society, however much of it was pie in the sky, of Alex Salmond's Nordic social democracy.

Well guess what? Now we will never know. Now we can never know. All we can be sure of is future cuts, privatisation, demeaning of the unemployed as 'scroungers'... It is not as if society got better since 1979 is it? When David Cameron made his speech to save the union and drew upon imagery of Churchill, socialised healthcare and Adam Smith why not draw on the past 35 years too? Starving miners being beaten up by well fed policemen shipped up from London. The poll tax riots. The London riots. The Iraq War. Afghanistan. The sinking of the Belgrano. The tories supporting apartheid in South Africa. Arms to Iraq. Arms to Israel. The Phillips Curve. Tuitiion fees.

Make no mistake: nothing will change now. Scotland will undoubtedly continue to be Westminster's guinea pig. Promised powers will be reneged upon. The Barnett Formula will be scrapped. The NHS will be gone soon. Little will remain of our welfare state. Food banks will demand, and need, more contributions. Homelessness will increase. Social housing barely exists now anyway. What? You thought a Westminster government would spring for new tenaments for those with addictions, without employment and without the middle class upbringing you enjoyed?

But nevermind NO voters - you put your faith in Cameron. You put your faith in Westminster. You got to feel "British".

I only wonder what those who felt oh so British, and lived during Thatcherism, might have achieved if they had protested about handing the future of Hong Kong to the Chinese (against their wishes, I may add) back in 1985. I wonder if those Brits might have stopped the vile tory Nationality Act from passing, which (I kid you not), mentioned that those resident in British areas who were non-white did not have right of abode in the UK - a deliberate attempt to screw Hong Kong citizens. Are you still feeling good about yourselves now and that "British" identity? I even wonder how those who feel oh so British react in regards to the current mess over there. Or do we not worry about those former "Brits" because they are not white?

As we can see from the disgusting scenes in George Square that still seems to be the mantra of some.

I hope knowing that, in voting NO, the union-saving lot who took part in this election realise they have created a society that can never - will never - progress past UKIP, poverty, old age pensioners dying of hyporthermia and the rich getting richer. Whatever good reasons they had for that NO - the chance to grasp a new country, that could - if we fought for it - be more democratic, more equal and more embracing to the world and to immigrants, is gone. For good.

And here's the thing: I feel done with it. I wish I could escape. I can't live with people who feel this way about the poor and vulnerable. For those who have already left - I tip my hat. There is no other way forward. There can't be.