Posts Tagged ‘Alex Salmond’
The Long Revolution: Scottish Self-Government and the Case for the Union
Open Democracy, February 17th 2012
David Cameron came north to Scotland speaking with the authority of Prime Minister of the UK and the status of leading a party with one MP out of 59 Westminster representatives.
He delivered an important speech and intervention and met with First Minister Alex Salmond; this can be seen as part of the long campaign and positioning of each man and side seeing himself as a long distance runner, pacing themselves, sizing up and trying to get the better of their opponent.
Cameron’s speech was in its tone and content, thoughtful and astute. It was in the view of Joyce Macmillan, ‘the strongest explicitly unionist speech made in Britain since the 1950s’ (1). That may seem an overstatement, but it is one of the most nuanced interventions made in Scotland for many a year, perhaps since the advent of Thatcherism in 1979. It avoided the pitfalls Edinburgh born and educated Blair used to regularly get into coming north, who was often seen as hectoring and patronising Scottish audiences to the extent Alastair Campbell once called the Scots press ‘unreconstructed wankers’ (2). Read the rest of this entry »
The Story of a Northern Rebellion and how it could remake Britain
New Statesman, January 16th 2012
The Westminster parties have a northern problem but they do not know what it is or what to do. Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister, stands all-conquering, a nationalist hero to some; a one-man band of “El-Presidente Salmond” to others. The SNP’s “big tent” politic, social democratic and pro-business, leaves the opposition with little terrain to mark out; redolent of Tony Blair and New Labour at their peak in 1997.
How has this happened in such a cautious nation as Scotland? Are we witnessing a Scottish spring, a nation refinding its confidence, or as some claim a black and white nationalism becoming the new orthodoxy after decades of Labour control?
There is a long story in this. The Scottishing of Scottish politics has been ongoing for over a century. In late Victorian Britain the administrative making of a distinct Scottish political sphere began with the creation of a separate government department, the Scottish Office. This led to pressure for more political control and the creation of the cabinet post of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and its transformation under Thomas Johnston, wartime holder of the post from 1941-45, into a powerful, defining figure in Scottish life.
There followed progressively greater demands for democracy for Scotland, which eventually led to the establishment under the Blair government of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. With its arrival, Scottish politics changed irreversibly and its main faultline switched from pro- and anti-devolution, to pro- and anti-independence, preparing the way for the SNP ascendancy. Read the rest of this entry »
When ‘Two Tribes’ Go To War: Why Independence Needs to Understand the Union Case
The Scotsman, January 14th 2012
This week Scotland exploded onto the UK and international stage. The constitutional debate and independence have become the talk of Westminster and across the world.
Pro-union forces have been caricaturing the independence camp as ‘separatists’ with even the British Government paper published this week having contained within its title the phrase: ‘whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom’.
Independence supporters like to think they are above this. Yet they have a tendency to think the union is self-evidently over, rotten to the core and just waiting to collapse in the face of the forces of history.
Life is never this simple. It behoves the best of each side to understand the other. And for the forces of change, the independence camp needs to reach out and empathise with the arguments for the union. They aren’t, as we used to say, a creation of ‘false consciousness’ and it would be a sign of strength which would aid a better debate. Read the rest of this entry »
The Possible Scotlands of the Future
The Guardian Comment, January 13th 2012
The Scottish independence story has become one of the UK’s hottest stories, forcing Westminster and London politicians and correspondents to gen up quickly about Scotland and Scottish politics as they try to make sense of what is going on.
Scottish independence and self-government are not about an old-fashioned nationalist movement drawing from reactionary ideas, but a profoundly modern, pro-European, centre-left politics.
The debate of independence versus the union has already seen battlelines drawn, David Cameron and Alex Salmond engage in the first of what will be several duels, and the political camps and tribes anticipate the sound and fury to come.
Despite this we have to acknowledge the subtleties of the Scottish debate in an age of complexity and interdependence. There is a positive case to be made for the union. And a positive case for independence. Read the rest of this entry »
The Beginning of the Break-Up of Britain?
Open Democracy, January 11th 2012
The Scottish constitutional question has shot to the top of the UK political agenda. The manoeuvrings of the UK Government and Scottish Government on the Scottish independence issue have consistently led the UK news bulletins this week, even giving the high impact HS2 development go-ahead a run for its money.
We are now entering uncharted waters. Scotland and the UK are now changing and things will never be the same again. Whatever the outcome of the stand-off between the two governments and the eventual referendum, Scottish independence has become mainstream and a serious, viable option.
Alex Salmond announced on ‘Sky News’ that the Scottish Government had decided to hold its independence referendum in autumn 2014. The timing was planned to cause maximum embarrassment to Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, who at the same moment was addressing the House of Commons on the UK Government’s view of independence. Salmond said autumn 2014 ‘was the date that allows everything to be put in a proper manner on the most important decision in Scotland for 300 years. That date will allow the Scottish people to hear all the arguments.’ Read the rest of this entry »