#IndyRef Elephant Trap #1: Falling into the role of ‘self hating Scot’…

I’ve a couple of instances which show some of the weaknesses in the way the debate over Scottish independence is configured for each side/ This one shows the psychology of adopting a Yes position rather than a No to the the referendum question.

As a former Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (which the SNP has promised Scotland will join after independence) George Robertson is well placed to argue why Scotland could be a stronger actor within the UK. Instead, however…

Eeek! Now, he might be right. And hell will most likely freeze over before Scotland does anything other than follow orders from its larger power broking members: including rUK.

But calling Scotland some ‘minor entity of the north’ is one of several nasty elephant traps laying about in this campaign, and poor old George walked straight into it.

In a sense this is a structural kink within the Union wide parties, who’s top talent has tended to move on from home base and seen their ambitions fulfilled in London and beyond. Ironically it affects Labour far more than the Tories who are these days the English and slightly Welsh party.

Developing an authentic Scottish Labour organisation that sees (as the SNP does) Scotland as the pinnacle of its own domestic political ambition is a challenge that has yet to be realised.

Beyond Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy is probably the best political talent they have but it’s far from clear that he’s having serious political impact on the debate. Both are Westminster rather Holyrood politicians.

The Robertson ‘slip’ underlines the otherness of what had been until relatively recently the largest political voice of Scotland. It portrays Labour scrabbling for its own authentic Scottish grounding.

More tomorrow..

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  • Big Yellow Crane

    Weird. The Director General of NATO says small nations can’t make a useful contribution to NATO. Doesn’t NATO have a standardised brigade structure so that countries can make a proportionate contribution to general international defence regardless of their size? Denmark (5.6M people) which lost 43 of their service personnel in Afghanistan compared with the UK (64M) which lost 453 and the US (319M) which lost 2234 – ie a loss proportionate to the size of their national population and defence forces – might be a bit pissed off to hear the Director General thinks their contribution to ISAF was worthless.

  • dougthedug

    Developing an authentic Scottish Labour organisation that sees (as the SNP does) Scotland as the pinnacle of its own domestic political ambition is a challenge that has yet to be realised.

    All it needs is independence.

  • Big Yellow Crane

    Robertson’s derision is even more off when you think this Secretary General and the next one are both ex-PM’s of what George Robertson thinks are northern non-entities. Looks like Alex Salmond might get the job himself if he stays around long enough.

    Anyway: UK “ambassador” (permanent representative) to NATO votes Yes. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/03/scottish-referendum-former-uk-ambassador-nato-vote-yes.

    And a bit on her background. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/who_is_who_62544.htm

  • dougthedug

    ‘self hating Scot’…

    Not quite. George doesn’t hate his own nationality because he’s British.

    The mistake is to think that because politicians like George were born in Scotland that their primary identity is Scottish. George is probably very proud of his Scottish roots in the same way as a William Hague is proud of his Yorkshire roots but neither regard Scotland or Yorkshire as their nation.

    George may love the county of Scotshire but he doesn’t think it should ever be a country.

    For him it really is just a “minor entity” in the north when compared to his nation of Britain.

  • dougthedug

    It portrays Labour scrabbling for its own authentic Scottish grounding.

    Labour has always been a British party. For a while, ably abetted by the BBC and the press, it maintained the fiction that there was a form of autonomous “Scottish Labour Party”. but of course there isn’t.

    Labour takes its orders and political direction from its leaders based in London and Westminster and its outlook is formed by that British command structure.

    George is a British nationalist in a British party. It’s no wonder that Scotland is a “minor entity” to him.

  • mickfealty

    And slam goes the door…

  • mickfealty

    I guess it is worth pondering the matter he goes on to talk about which is the decreasing agency of rUK (and iScotland) overseas.

  • IrelandForAll

    he also said that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead

  • Micheàl O Teamhneàn

    Another question that must be asked is how long the uk can hope to maintain its permanent UN security seat as it’s historical heft diminishes in the face of the rising BRIC countries whoes economies and population begin to swamp britains own. It’s an awkward fact that can’t and won’t be ignored forever. A scottish yes can only hasthen

  • dougthedug

    All five permanent members of the UN Security council are nuclear armed. If Scotland goes independent it’s likely that the rUK will have to give up its nuclear arsenal.

    In that case its claim to being a permanent member falls behind that of say nuclear armed India.

    It’s one of the big reasons that Scottish Independence is such a fear for the UK. Losing 8% of your population won’t get you kicked off the Security Council but losing your nukes makes it very likely.

  • Micheàl O Teamhneàn

    I didn’t think about it like that but it makes sense.Despite this I still think the rUK ( read England) will find some way of maintaining a nuclear arsenal even if it bankrupts them.I believe that their are many in the British establishment who could live with an under financed nhs in exchange for a top table place with the big boys if only to keep up appearances and save face

  • gunterprien

    One small point..The USA won’t allow anyone to take Britain’s place.
    End of debate.
    I agree with you..But the USA won’t let Brazil take oer from the rUk..After all Brazil has a mind of it’s own.
    Britain just listens to His Masters Voice in Washington.
    USA won’t give that up.

  • gunterprien

    England will never give up it’s nukes.
    It’s addicted to them.
    People talk about the British State etc.
    You can see how there is a “british State” as an Entity when you think about the Nukes.
    In the 1980’s Labour and the Lib Dems were anti Nuclear.
    They didn’t win any general elections though.
    And it was only after bLIAR turned pro nukes ..Did the media give labour a clean run.
    Same for the Lib-Dems..They are Pro Nuke..And they have to be..Before the agents of the “british state” let them hold office.

  • Micheàl O Teamhneàn

    Excellent point but even so In a fast changing world , today’s certainties are tomorrow’s memoriries

  • gunterprien

    I hope so.
    I wanna see the border in Ireland as Yesterday’s memories.
    If your thinking holds true..Then yeah..Why not.
    Slan.

  • Starviking

    The UK has its permanent seat on the UN Security Council because it was one of the founding members of the UN, along with the US, France, Russia/USSR, and China. Nuclear weapons are not a requirement of the position.

  • Micheàl O Teamhneàn

    Yes but it will become increasingly difficult for a country of less than 100 million people with diminishing influence to argue for retention of a top place at the UN . India should rightly feel aggrieved that despite its 1billion odd citizens, nuclear arsenal and a rising economy, it still is denied a place at the top table due to the historical legacy of the British empire.

  • Angus McLellan

    I can’t see China wanting to replace the UK with India on the UN Security Council. So that’ll be UK, USA, France & China for UK remaining and maybe Russia for replacing UK with India.

    This game works just as well with other candidates and other plans. Reducing to four permanent members? UK and France will oppose, because if four, why not three. And maybe Russia too, because if if four, why not two?

  • Angus McLellan

    Omelettes & eggs surely. No point having a door if you can’t get elected to get through it. That’s true whether you lost to the Ess Enn Pee or because some devomax reapportionment fix removed the seat you were aiming for or because EV4EL means there are many fewer top jobs you’re eligible for.

  • Starviking

    It’s not about population, if that were the case France would be up for the chop too. It is about military capabilities, and the ability to use them around the world. The UK is one of three nations who can project power around the world when required, and on a sustained basis. The Royal Navy is probably the second most effective navy in the world. The British Army is professional and well-respected, and the Royal Air Force is a small, but capable force.

    As for India being denied a permanent place at the Security Council – that seems to be twisting things a bit. The UK has a place on the council because it founded the UN with the other allied nations. India, after independence pursued a non-aligned role in the world – hard to see why they’d want a permanent place at the top back in the 40s and 50s.

  • Starviking

    Nope, nukes are not a requirement of being a permanent member of the UN Security Council. If that were the case then the initial permanent member would have just been the US, and that is not the case.