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Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 2) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47948465) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Ouch. I've seen quite a few family breakup analogies, but this is the first time I saw Scotland be the child instead of the spouse.

If we're going analogise a country to a person, actually I'd say it's pretty natural to seek out unions even though they involve giving up some independence. That's why people get married. That's why the EU keeps growing. Even the most perfect couples don't always agree all the time, but they find ways to figure it out because it's better together than apart. Divorces are universally considered a tragedy in our culture exactly because we recognise that unions bring strength: when one partner stumbles, the other is there to help.

Salmond's behaviour with Scotland has been like going to a wife in a working marriage where decisions are taken together and telling her constantly, repeatedly, that she's too good for the man she's with. That her husband treats her unfairly. That she's oppressed by him. That everything wrong in her life is her husbands fault. She didn't get the promotion she wanted? Husband's fault. She doesn't get enough attention? Husband's fault. She can't afford the clothes she wants? Husband's fault. He's just so unfair. How could she not be better off without him? She's strong and pure and good and she needs to break up with this loser.

Oh, the husband objects? He doesn't want a divorce? That's just bullying. He's promising to give her more say? It's just lies. He's asking how she'll pay the rent without him? Scaremongering. Of course you can pay the rent. Sure you may not earn enough to pay all the bills each month and you've both been relying on the credit card, but selling off the family silver will take care of that.

I could go on but you get the idea. The ultimate legacy of Salmond's failed campaign is that a significant chunk of the Scottish population has bought into the idea that they're somehow superior or morally better than the emotionally deformed English, whereas such feelings were not previously widespread. This is a toxic legacy that could take generations to resolve. It will certainly not make anything easier in future.

Comment: Re:Free Willy! (Score 2, Interesting) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47947199) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Most importantly the Parliament Act allows the Commons to force a bill through Lords if it's been sent back twice already, regardless of what the Lords want. Therefore the most the HoL can do is slow things down.

Given this fact it's probably not surprising that nobody cares much about reforming it. It's another check/balance and all it can ultimately do is throw sand in the wheels, it has no real power.

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 4, Insightful) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47946305) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

it's sad that the concept of independence and sovereignty boils down to mere money for some (or most) people.

Why? Scotland is not oppressed, it does not have severe racial/religious/ethnic divides with the rest of the UK. It was not conquered by England. Nobody has family members that have died because of the Union. In fact the Union has been ruled by Scottish PM's twice in recent history.

That makes splitting it out into a new country a largely technical matter of economics and future government policy. It's quite dry stuff. The Yes campaign chose to ignore this and attempted to whip up a notion of Scottish exceptionalism through the constant "fairer better society" rhetoric, but ultimately they lost because when people asked questions about the technical details of why Scotland would be better and whether it'd be worth the cost, they had no answers. Given that the primary impact of independence would be economic, this lack of planning proved fatal.

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 1) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47946241) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

How would that split have worked out in the end? The UK would swing wildly right... Quickly get involved in lots of wars, crack down on "terrorists" etc... Scotland would have swung wildly left, and quickly bankrupted themselves with social programs. Balance is a good thing, even if you're currently getting the short end of the stick.

Just because historically politics has been dominated by two bundled sets of largely unrelated policies doesn't mean it has to be that way.

In a post-independence UK, the rUK would have been temporarily dominated by the Tories until Labour, freed from the need to constantly try and drag their Scottish MPs away from hard-socialist economics, found a new voice for themselves that didn't easily pigeonhole into left vs right. For example they could have campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility combined with pacifist policies, pro EU integration and raising taxes specifically for the NHS. That would likely have been an appealing combination even to many existing Tory voters. It'd be difficult for them to take up such policies with credibility because in fact the UK was taken into the Iraq war by Tony Blair, a Scottish Labour PM. And Cameron's similar attempt to go to war in Syria was rejected by a coalition Parliament. But staking out pacifism as a policy seems like such an easy win it's surely only a matter of time until Labour gets a leader with vision again and they try something like this.

With respect to Scotland, I suspect they would have ended up following economic policies closely aligned with that of rUK despite all the rhetoric about building a "fairer society" (means taxing the rich more up there). For one, they already have the power to raise income taxes even without full independence and they haven't actually used it. Actually the SNP's only post-independence tax policy they formally adopted was lowering corporation tax to try and grab businesses from the rUK. There are no socialist parties in Scotland with any real heft, so after the post-independence street parties died down the Scots who all voted to build a "fairer society" would have discovered that the neoliberal consensus is called a consensus because it turns out a lot of people agree with it.

Comment: Re:25%?!? (Score 1) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47946137) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Anybody who wants secession is just bad at economics.

Maybe. But I read that Congress has a lower approval rating than cockroaches. I doubt economics is the only thing they're thinking about. Much like the Scottish case, this 25% is being driven by disdain with Washington politics. And remember, when Salmond got started support for independence was only about 20-25% in Scotland too (maybe a bit higher, I forgot, but it definitely wasn't 50%). So watch out!

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 4, Insightful) 371

by IamTheRealMike (#47946003) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

This reminds me the well known Americanism, "reality has a liberal bias".

I followed the BBC's coverage quite carefully and did not see any bias. What I did see is a lot of ardent highly emotional yes supporters interpret the stream of stories about the campaign as being against yes and therefore the authors must be biased. So let's take a look at your link about this "academic study" that claims to scientifically assess the bias of the BBC:

The study found that, overall, there was a greater total number of ‘No statements’ compared to Yes; a tendency for expert advice against independence to be more common; a tendency for reports to begin and end with statements favouring the No campaign; and a very strong pattern of associating the Yes campaign arguments and evidence with the personal wishes of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Taken together, the coverage was considered to be more favourable for the No campaign.

Well fuck me. The evidence of this bias is that "expert advice against independence was more common"? Seriously? Did this guy even think before writing this so-called academic study? Here's another explanation: maybe expert opinion was against independence because it didn't make much sense?

What about "associating the Yes campaign arguments and evidence with the personal wishes of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond"? The entire independence campaign can be summed up as the personal wish of Alex Salmond. He devoted his entire career to Scottish independence. He led the party that called for it. It has been his project since day one. No surprise that disentangling the arguments and evidence from his personal wishes is so hard, especially because the yes campaign was so lacking in detail and substance.

Last reason to see the BBC as biased, "a greater total number of ‘No statements’ compared to Yes". Well, that doesn't surprise me in the slightest. The entire yes campaign can be summed up as repeating over and over that everything will be better post-yes because Salmond says so and anyone who disagrees is a scaremonger. That was the entire argument for independence. If you're a journalist there's only so many times you can publish this viewpoint as a story before it stops being news. The arguments against independence on the other hand were complex and multi-faceted. There was the currency union issue of course, but also the question of how the EU would react, whether there'd be border controls, how assets would be split up, whether the oil projections were really accurate and then the steady stream of people either with expertise or in highly placed positions coming out against yes. There was lots to write about, new stories every day.

Given that state of affairs, I don't see how the media could possibly have published more articles that were pro-yes than pro-no simply because the yes side had nothing to say.

Also, the over-65's have the shortest time stake in this. plus have had the trappings of gold plated pensions that the generation behind them cannot look forward to. It's a disgusting state of affairs and as a Scot I am embarrassed for my country.

I'm embarrassed for your country too, partly because of absurd arguments like the ones you just deployed - essentially saying that old people can't use the internet and therefore must be stupid and uninformed. Perhaps you should take the next logical step and argue for their disenfranchisement too.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47929195) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Not really. Less than 20% Texans are polled to be in support of secession. That falls in line with the national average of all US citizens who want their states to cede

Well yes but watch out for that. When the independence campaign began in Scotland support for a Yes vote was sitting around 20% (I think?). After many months of campaigning it's reached about 50%.

So don't assume that the status quo in the USA will remain. The big difference is that when independence is not actually on offer, there's no real point to answering yes in the polls. Once it becomes possible and people start legitimately campaigning for it, opinions can change pretty fast.

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 1) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47928915) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Imagine how the Scottish feel having to accept crippling austerity to prop up reckless English banks. Yes, obviously RBS is Scottish

Just going to quote this here so readers can ponder this contradiction. RBS was bailed out at huge expense. It is indeed based in Edinburgh and the S in RBS stands for Scotland. So this is a very strange argument to make.

but it's losses were all made in London under weak UK regulation from the Thatcher era.

Ye gods, here we go blaming Thatcher again. You realise she's died of old age, don't you? Labour was voted in on the back of Labour voting Scots multiple times since 1991 and any of them could have changed banking regulations. None of them did. What about "true Scotsmen" like Salmond? Well he strongly supported the disastrous takeover of ABN AMRO that was largely responsible for crippling the bank and directly contributed to tanking the UK economy. In fact not only did he support RBS politically, he actually worked for them for a good chunk of his career.

In short: blaming Thatcher, a dead woman who was not in power for the last 23 years, for the failure of a Scottish bank due to a deal strongly supported by the erstwhile future leader of Scotland, typifies the kind of thinking that is making the Yes campaign seem more and more unreal.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 4, Informative) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47928693) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Thatcher destroyed manufacturing and industry in the whole of the UK. The north of England and Wales were trashed just as badly. She did that to Scotland, as well as the Poll Tax which caused riots. All the stuff she privatised has gone to shit - energy companies, the railways, British Telecom... Now they see Cameron privatising Royal Mail and the NHS too. Her policies failed utterly and lead to the global financial crash a few years back.

That's the view that sums up the Yes campaign, indeed. But is it realistic?

Let's start with "Thatcher destroyed manufacturing and industry". I find it to be a very misleading way to phrase things. At the time Thatcher came to power, heavily nationalised UK industry was already destroying itself. It had high costs, low productivity, large chunks of it were unprofitable and it was dominated by incredibly militant unions who didn't care about any of this at all, because their wages were being subsidised by tax and the printing of money. Being unprofitable is not some minor debating point. Enormous numbers of people in the UK were being paid to uselessly dig holes in the ground. There was no purpose to this. In the absence of subsidies, nobody would have wanted the rocks that were being dug up. Other people in other countries were doing it better.

And it wasn't just mining. At the time Thatcher came to power the British state also owned shipyards, steel works, a furniture removal company and the Gleneagles Hotel ..... just to name a few.

None of this made any sense. It had happened because the post-war governments believed full employment mattered more than inflation. The result was openly Marxist trade unions realised a weak government with an addiction to money printing could be turned into an ATM via nationally organised strikes. By the 1970's the UK was a basket case. It was suffering electricity blackouts, trash was piling up on the streets uncollected, railways didn't work, even emergency services and hospitals were striking. The country was one of the poorest in Europe and being called "ungovernable". The strikes were wildly unpopular with over 80% disapproval ratings of the strikers being common.

There was no way these industries were ever going to be world-beating titans ever again.

Thatcher was elected to fix this state of affairs, and she did, by making the painful choice to take away the subsidies and start targeting inflation instead of employment.

By the time she left the UK was a stable and prosperous first world nation once again.

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 2) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47928531) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

I wonder with 4 million voters who tend to overwhelmingly prefer Labour to Tories gone will Labour eventually cease to be a factor in the UK elections?

Nah. I don't think it'll make much difference in the long run. Labour will simply continue to adopt the policies that make the Tories more popular, and then find other ways to differentiate themselves.

A big part of the reason for the widespread disillusionment with UK politics is that Labour and Conservatives were traditionally very different, with Labour representing the (to use obsolete lingo) proletariat and the Tories being the party of the bourgeoisie. When hard-left economics became totally discredited and abandoned by the mainstream, Labour had to find a new identity. Blair did the most to make the party electable again with his New Labour campaign, but he was only partially successful in his reforms. Once Brown replaced him the party immediately returned to the high spending policies old Labour was traditionally associated with. The public sector increased in size in a fairly short space of time and when the economic crisis hit, Labour couldn't credibly claim they had truly learned the lessons of the 70's. With Scotland's strong preference for voting anything-but-Tory, the result was a (rare, for the UK) coalition government in which the conservatives were left with the rum job of explaining to people why they were paying more to get less.

Ultimately, Labour will complete the reforms started under Blair and old Labour will be consigned to history. If Scotland leaves that process will happen much faster. I don't know what their primary differentiator would be in future but it looks like they might be trying to seize "Higher taxes to pay for the NHS" as their own territory - not a bad strategy, I'd think, although it's one that's easily replicated by other parties too if it proves popular. At any rate, they'll find some way to justify their existence and sometimes that'll be enough to win elections. Then the process will go into reverse and the Tories will struggle to justify why they should replace the incumbents given that their policies are pretty similar.

A lot of people find the new status quo of political parties that mostly agree on things to be somehow indicative of decline or moral decay. I don't really see it that way. I see the politics of the 20th century as utterly dysfunctional - riven with unresolvable ideological divides. Now that Marx has been put behind us, the new politics is about disagreement over relatively small things. This isn't a sign of a society in decline, it's a sign of a society that's largely at peace with itself.

Comment: Re:stupid fear mongering (Score 1) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47927415) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

He's obviously talking about the short term, not in some possibly long-term future where everything is sorted out.

Blowing off the guys legitimate worries for his business as scaremongering pretty much sums up the entire Yes campaign so far. It's not an argument like, "it's true that the split will be messy painful and could cause recession on both sides, but in the long term it'll be worth it". It's an argument like "everything will be peaches and cream immediately and anyone who says otherwise is a scaremongering bully".

Comment: Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (Score 5, Informative) 488

by IamTheRealMike (#47927351) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

You're mixing up currency and currency union. Salmond has been deliberately obfuscating this so the confusion is not surprising, but they are different things.

Post independence Scotland could continue to use the pieces of metal and paper we tend to think of as "the pound". It could still express prices in pounds. The UK cannot stop this nor would it care to do so, even if it could. Scotland can keep the currency.

Currency union is an entirely different matter. Currency union is about decision making and who pays for what in future should things go tits up again. This is not a physical object or landmass that can be split up. It's called a "union" because it involves people working together. This is categorically not on offer because Scotland has shown no preference for economic policies compatible with the rest of the UK, really it's shown the exact opposite. So English people working together with Scottish people to create unified economic policies on this wouldn't really be possible, the disagreements are too deep and English people outnumber Scottish quite significantly. Thus it'd only make sense if Scotland agreed to give up most of the independence it had just won. Otherwise it'd be Greece all over again. Profligate teenager wouldn't even begin to describe it.

There is one situation in which CU could actually make sense - if Scotland strongly and consistently voted for the same economic policies as the UK had, and could be trusted to do so for the forseeable future. However this isn't a Scotland that anyone has been seeing during the independence campaign, so it's hard to imagine things changing anytime soon.

With respect to the debt, I think in the event of independence all the opinion polls suggest the UK will take a firm line. No currency union and they split the debt equally too. It's not up for debate. This is actually a fair position - split the debts and financially each goes their own way - but I doubt Scotland will go for it, and the amount of pain that could result for both sides is quite astronomical. This is why such a large proportion of people don't think independence is worth it.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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