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Alex Salmond is not a Nazi. He’s not even a Fascist.

27 March 2014

11:50 AM

27 March 2014

11:50 AM

Every so often you come across an article so bizarre it forces you to re-examine long-held certainties on a subject about which you happen to be tolerably well-informed. This year that’s Scotland and her independence referendum and this time the article in question is Simon Winder’s epistle in the latest edition of Standpoint.

Having duly re-examined everything I conclude that it is the maddest article I’ve read this year.

So bonkers – really, not too strong a term – that you wonder what the magazine’s editors were thinking when they agreed to publish it. They have every right to do so, of course, and publication does not equal endorsement. But still. No-one paused to say ‘hang on, this is laughable’.

I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s see how Winder opens his case:

Last summer, when I was checking the proofs for my book about the Habsburg Empire, Danubia, I found myself reflecting on the way that across Central Europe over the past century and a half different forms of nationalism have done almost untold damage. Wherever I travelled there were entire towns whose populations had been killed or expelled at the command of one form of nationalist zealot or another. My conclusion (which I am sure is an uncontentious one) was that anyone who makes exclusive claims based around flags, songs or mystical and immemorial borders was at some base level evil — that to believe in such things, which have more in common with magic than rationality, puts the believer and his disciples en route to catastrophe. And then I thought about Alex Salmond.

Now Danubia is a fine book but the United Kingdom is not the Habsburg Empire and already we are entering perilous waters. Expertise in one area does not necessarily transfer to expertise in another.

I am afraid Mr Winder’s “uncontentious” claim anyone who makes “exclusive claims” of the sort he dislikes is “at some base level evil” won’t do either. Unless, that is, you think the likes of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln (and every other American president), Margaret Thatcher “at some base level evil”. Disagreeing with someone does not render them evil. I’ve never been an enthusiast for Eamon de Valera, for instance, but I’d mark him some way short of evil.

No-one doubts the horror of twentieth century central and eastern Europe. A tragedy in many languages. And, yes, nationalism – or nationalisms – played a part in this. But that’s no excuse for asserting that

Whatever terrible crimes the Communists carried out they at least had a salutary attitude towards the nationalists scattered across Central Europe who had done so much to support the Nazis and to poison community after community that had until then generally lived cheek-by-jowl for centuries, if not in harmony then in grudging indifference.

Good grief. Tell that to the millions knowingly, deliberately starved to death by Stalin. Tell that to the Hungarians or the Czechs or the Poles or the Estonians…

But you see where Winder is leading us. Alex Salmond is a kind of McNazi. Yup:

When last summer I first started suggesting to friends that there was something about Salmond’s rhetoric that really worried me – that it could be seen as effectively fascist in its mix of flag-waving mysticism allied to socioeconomic gestures to the Left – I found few takers.

I wonder why?

Winder argues that Salmond’s “socialism is a fraud” which, of course, it is since Salmond is not a socialist. Nor, however, does he claim to be one. Not these days. He marries orthodox social democratic social policy with orthodox neoliberal economics. There may, on occasion, be a tension between these positions but it is hardly an extraordinary or even unusual tension. The SNP leader might bridle at the comparison but his politics is informed, even infused, by the successes of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

It is true that Salmond is also an opportunist. Independence – or failing that Home Rule – is the goal and today’s preferred policies can always be sacrificed if it’s felt they are not helping the advance towards that goal. If this demands a certain slipperiness, even dishonesty, this is true of many, perhaps most, political leaders. Unhelpful baggage is ditched in the race to power. Think of Clause Four.

[Alt-Text]


Back to Winder:

Driving back and forth across the Scottish border myself the other week it seemed incredible to imagine that very soon this could mark a real and hostile line. Salmond claims that a specific group has virtues which are unavailable to those south of that line. But this is only sustainable (because it is untrue) by imagining an “other”.

Incredible? Why yes, it is difficult to image that the Anglo-Scottish border might be a hostile one. Granted, Salmond does like to make claims about Scottish distinctiveness but his insistence upon Scottish exceptionalism is by no means exceptional. It is shared, to one degree or another, by most Scots. Including Unionists.

From James Boswell and Sir Walter Scott to John Smith and Donald Dewar, Scots have insisted upon their difference. Sometimes, admittedly, to an extreme unjustified by the facts, but that may be the inevitable consequence of sharing a bed with an elephant for 300 years. There is no need to imagine an other because in a multi-national state such as the United Kingdom there is an other. If there weren’t, the United Kingdom could not be a multi-national state.

It is true that there is no overwhelming grievance animating modern Scottish nationalism. That is one reason why a No vote remains the more probable outcome. True, too, that the Yes campaign seeks to leverage dissatisfaction with London to its advantage. True, as well, that a narrow Yes vote is one of the two worst outcomes (the other being a narrow No vote) but when Winder writes of his – and others’ – “mild incredulity that Scotland could possibly find it desirable to become independent” he illuminates the shortcomings of his own imagination and his ignorance of the United Kingdom. A Union that cannot be left is a coercive Union and though the SNP’s rise to power is recent the idea of independence – albeit theoretical for a long time – has always existed. And always, if we are honest, owned a corner of many hearts. Including hearts that will vote No in September.

He continues:

Thinking about the Habsburgs, it is probably fair to say that they would have viewed the very idea of agreeing to a referendum as insane. We have somehow sleepwalked into a situation where our political classes have created something ruinous.

Granted, the SNP’s majority in the Scottish parliament is accidental, the product of a series of events and impressions beyond the SNP’s command. Hindsight tells us the Unionist parties should have insisted upon a referendum in 2008. They would have won at a canter. They could no more reasonably foresee an SNP majority at Holyrood than could the SNP themselves. But we are where we are and the notion the UK government should have taken lessons from the Habsburgs is, well, preposterous. Denying a referendum would have been the real insanity. Nothing could have more surely boosted the nationalist cause or convinced Scots that, contrary to their previous views and experiences, Scotland really was in some state of bondage.

Moving on, charlatans and ignoramuses (on both sides of the constitutional debate) will always make much of this being the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn. Few things are more laughable than a Scotsman using this coincidence of timing as reason for fresh independence but an Englishman suggesting this represents some fresh flowering of Scottish blood-and-soil nationalism is one of those more laughable things.

To wit:

[S]hould there not perhaps be some minor element in Nato’s mission which involves dispatching squads to arrest anyone who organises political rallies around old battle commemorations? Or indeed arrests anyone who even tries to use some daft medieval scrimmage like Bannockburn to trump later centuries of cooperation and mutual respect? Anything involving slow drumbeats, flaming torches, body-paint, the usual junk, is so patently disturbing that it is hard to believe it is allowed to happen at all. It may be a grand day out for all the family, but there are plenty of places to put children’s bouncy-castles other than on a blood-soaked field. In what sense is this any different from commemorating Tannenberg or Kosovo Polje? The atavistic anti-Englishness is no less horrible and mad than the anti-Russian or anti-Muslim connotations of these other two examples. How can this be in any sense “socialist”, the key marker the SNP uses to differentiate itself and Scotland from a notionally less collectivist and welfarist England? But it in fact squares the circle in a very traditional way — it is “national socialist”.

There is, for sure, a streak of Anglophobia within the Nationalist movement. It is not always as deeply buried as the SNP’s leadership would have one believe and when it emerges it is always ugly. Nevertheless it does not dominate or even animate most Nationalist thinking. Indeed, the bagpipes and Braveheart bullshit embarrasses the SNP leadership. Not, perhaps, as much as it embarrasses other Scots but still enough to give Salmond and Co grounds for treating it warily.

Granted, nationalist appropriation of the Saltire annoys, even angers, other Scots but there is no nationalist monopoly on historical memory. Bannockburn is a victory owned – to the extent a battle 700 years ago can be owned by anyone – by Scots of all political persuasions and none. It is cherished – to the extent it is cherished at all – by Unionists as much as nationalists. Because it helped create the grounds for eventual Union, as opposed to incorporation.

In any case, to maintain the fiction the SNP are Nazis one must take care never to speak to anyone minded to vote for the party or for independence. I assume – perhaps erroneously – that Simon Winder is in this category. His article certainly gives no sign of the author’s engagement with the realities of modern Scottish nationalism.

Whatever else may be said about it, Scottish nationalism is not predicated upon an exclusionary definition of Scottishness. It is markedly more pluralist, for instance, than de Valera’s Irish nationalism. Indeed it is hard to think of a more peaceful, open or civic-minded nationalism in modern European history. Of course there are individual moments or expressions of ugliness or nativism or bigotry but they are not the dominant motifs. The SNP want to be taken seriously; they know that there’s little tolerance for overt Anglophobia and that Scotland’s blethering classes would recoil from such sillyness.

Sure, there are Scots who think the land oppressed but these too are Scots on the fringes of respectable discourse. When they pipe up at public meetings to worry about English tanks rolling up the A1 they are met with sniggering, eye-rolling, much sighing and the barely suppressed thought Christ, do we have to share a country with you?

Back to Mr Winder who, by now, is entering the late stages of paranoid delusion:

The Habsburgs would have restored order with a mixture of large bribes, expulsions, prison sentences and the odd execution, because they rightly saw that there was a deeper poison in nationalism than in any countermeasure. Their reasons were self-serving, but subsequent events proved them correct. It is obviously admirable that the UK authorities cannot simply let Salmond cool his heels on the Isle of Man for a few years, but those who value the plurality and anti-nationalism of the UK have sleepily allowed themselves to drift into a situation where they find themselves face to face with something seriously malevolent which feeds off fear, misinformation, conspiracy, grandstanding and scapegoating.

I hazard that by “obviously admirable” Winder means “quietly regrettable” but perhaps I do him wrong by thinking so.

[I]t may well be already too late. It must surely be a nightmare to imagine a Scotland falling into the well-worn independence rut of a week or two of parading figures, giant flags and tiny singing children in traditional outfits, followed moments thereafter by impoverishment, a hostile border, flailing autarky and the ever widening hunt for “enemies within”, those who hate and challenge the barely legitimate new state, fuelled by dissident groups in England. This is an absurd vision – except that I cannot see a way round it.

Fortunately most of us enjoy imaginations simultaneously less lurid and more realistic than poor Mr Winder. He makes a further error by insisting that Britain “almost alone” has escaped the “contagion”  of nationalism. An error because it denies the obvious and palpable existence of a distinct British nationalism.

Destiny and exceptionalism coloured the world map pink, after all. Scots certainly played their full part in the expression of that nationalism – a British Empire, not an English one – just as they did closer to home in the (partial) extirpation of Highland culture. Regrettable or not, it was what it was. Only the wilfully blind can visit central London and not be impressed by a muscular nationalism expressed in stone and bronze. To be born a Briton was to be granted life’s winning lottery ticket and if that ain’t a nationalist sentiment what is?

Mr Winder concludes (at last!):

The referendum is meant to be a moment of chain-shattering change — not just a mild and highly dubious redirecting of revenues to a new state’s smirking functionaries. Yet it is impossible to imagine this a happy place, or one which offers any actual benefit to most of its inhabitants. It could in turn promote a disgusting new variety of English nationalism. The SNP will be unable to deliver anything real and will instead create an excluding, under-siege Volk-community, with marginally better crèche facilities. This would be a state  viewed with repugnance by most other Europeans and would be a fantastically retrograde step, one that is being managed into being with slipshod and juvenile helplessness by the “Westminster government” almost as much as it has been whipped up by the SNP itself.

Again Winder’s imagination – so often so expansive – fails him. It is quite possible to imagine a happy Scotland and even, with only a little more effort, one offering some benefit to its citizens. It takes greater effort to imagine his besieged (by whom?) “Volk-community”. 

It may be that independence would be a “fantastically retrograde step”. Many Scots certainly think so. But think is the operative word. We are capable of arguing this for ourselves and, gosh, making the decision too. For all the storm and disruption caused by the referendum campaign it remains the case that it has been conducted – for the most part – in a spirit of admirable restraint. Perhaps that will change in the final, heated, months. But, in general though with of course some wild exceptions, this is a sober, civilised debate. We will have to live with one another once the voting’s done. There are no signs we will not be able to do so.

Independence is not ipso facto an absurdity. It may be a cause sparked by emotion and identity but it is one also built on reason. This is an argument between competing but equally legitimate patriotisms in which neither side has a monopoly on either truth or virtue but in which each base their arguments, for the most part, on a sincere and peaceful different calculation of the national interest. As these things go, this one is going pretty well.

Finally, I would only observe that this hysterical – in every sense of the term – broadside against the enemy within plus the suggestion Britain has been betrayed by a decadent and feeble elite at Westminster is so infused with ressentiment that it comes closer to being authentically fascist – at least in worldview – than anything the author has found in the Scotland he so feverishly imagines exists but which bears precious little relation to the Scotland most of us actually inhabit.

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Show comments
  • treeblopez

    “But, in general though with of course some wild exceptions, this is a sober, civilised debate.”

    Doesn’t seem very sober or civilised to me – but that’s perhaps because I’ve been reading too many posts on Comment is Free. It’s often poisonous and sectarian – the other side is illegitimate.

    The “bullying” over currency union was not sober or civilised.

  • http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com Jim Denham

    I must be one of the few readers who thought Winding’s piece was quite perceptive regarding the inherent, reactionary nastiness of Salmond’s and Sturgeon’s campaign, thought I’d agree that calling them fascists is a bit OTT.

    My fundamental disagreement with Massie is probably summed up in his words:
    “I’ve never been an enthusiast for Eamon de Valera, for instance, but I’d mark him some way short of evil.”
    We’re clearly starting from entirely different definitions of “evil” in that case, Mr Massie.

  • rjbh

    it might be fair to say the City State of London, left

  • http://www.quora.com/Godfrey-McDonnell Godfrey McDonnell

    Does anyone know precisely what the wording on the referendum/question on the ballot paper will be in September?

    • Kate

      “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Yes/No

  • Colonel Mustard

    “He marries orthodox social democratic social policy with orthodox neoliberal economics.”

    I think ‘orthodox’ is infinitely debatable. But the trend is almost universal. Socialists who pretend to be benign ‘social democrats’ and who embrace capitalism. But always a nasty authoritarian shadow in the background. Even China does it.

  • Mark Martin

    The Man Fails to Plan he Plans to Fail
    So why would you vote for a man without a plan, that’s like voting to fail…
    Vote Yes but only do so on strong hard evidence of documented facts that is deeply researched that they can state and guarantee the cost of living right down to what a loaf of bread will be under that vote. How many of you have went abroad on holiday or on business with Scottish Pound Sterling only to find the money changer don’t except them? That rejection of Scottish Pound Sterling exchange will not change in our life time or our kids life time to match that of the value of an extremely well established and recognisably accepted world wide Great Britain Pound. If the euro is doing so well then why is every person in that country under the Euro fleeing in masses to the UK?
    I’m not saying the current British party in power is doing anything to help Scotland but in the same sense they do nothing for whole of the UK but we CAN vote to change they’re fuck ups as a union with fixed set rate prices on cost of living… but once independent we can’t change back the vote of fuck ups Salmond will subject us too. The whole World is in a financial economic turmoil we the same as every person world wide are scrimping and saving penny’s cutting back on luxury’s to survive this financial turmoil. Do not be FOOLED into a miss use of our patriotic history who advertise Braveheart to rile our hearts as any reason to win our vote.
    Vote No we are not gullible to the unknown set prices of the SNP cost of living menu..

  • Mark Martin

    You can’t make an independent country work without three things.
    1 You need a critical mass of people willing to sustain independence.
    2 You need to be able to act independently.
    3 You need long term resources of your own.

    There are 5 million people in Scotland. There are sixty four million people in the UK. Who carries more influence? Who, can by standing together, can make a bigger change to the economic system that runs this world? As for independent financial power, Norway has it’s own currency. Scotland would not have its own currency. And long term resources? Norwegian oil has not yet peaked and with a population equivalent to Scotland, it drills twice as much oil as Scotland right now. Scottish oil and gas will deplete by 75% by 2022 and the industry itself says that, unlike Norway, it may not be drilling by 2050. And then there is the £30 billion to decommission the oil fields. Would you prefer the five million Scots to bear that cost at £6000 per head or would you prefer that cost to be shared by sixty four million UK residents at a cost of £500 per head? It really is common sense. Common sense that the SNP don’t want you to hear !!

    • Maidmarrion

      My idea of common sense and yours vary widely.
      I would prefer that my country uses its assets for the benefit of the folk here , deal with its own problems and celebrate its own successes and culture.
      Let’s face it with such a small population you’ll not miss us and your thin air figure of £6000 is just that – thin air.
      You are incapable of predicting the future either economically or assets ,so why pretend?
      I want a government that works for the people of Scotland not one that wishes to strut the ” world stage ” hanging on to the coattails of the Washington warmongers.

  • http://weourselves.com/ Christian Wright

    Sometimes the eye sees not itself but by reflection.

    Distilling the carnival barking nonsense to its barest essentials, as I understand Mr Widner’s stream of consciousness riff, he believes that on this Island there should be one state, one people, one leader.

    I didn’t like it when Adolf said that, and I don’t like it now. Widner need not venture further than the nearest mirror to find an unreconstructed fascist.

    What a horrible little man.

  • random_observer_2011

    Also, Winder sounds like a bit of a hysteric. One of my old professors in London, of German origin, observed that on her first travels in North America the unremarkable American and Canadian practice of private citizens displaying the national flag struck her as somewhat alarming. Well, cultural norms vary, but that struck me as unwarranted concern. Winder sounds like he has taken that sort of thing to the nth degree.

  • random_observer_2011

    Nationalism may well be held accountable for the First World War, much as supranationalism might be held accountable for the Thirty Years War, but it is worth noting that, just as in that older case the embryonic nationalism of French and Swedish policy contributed to the destruction, so pre-nationalist imperial aspirations contributed to the horror of the Great War. It was, after all, Hapsburg desire to preserve their ramshackle empire intact that set the ball really rolling and British old-school power-balancing statecraft that brought its empire into the fray. Not to mention Russian imperial aspirations, which really criscrossed the boundaries of the concept of “nationalism”.
    AS to the second war, nationalism certainly played a role but it is worth remembering that the four major combatants in Europe were also animated by more forward-looking concepts. Liberal internationalist, Communist, and National Socialist ideas of post-nation-state utopia were also in contention.

  • Angus_MacLellan

    Demonstrably neither Winder nor Massie know much about the Scottish character.

    • HJ777

      Or perhaps Scots vary in character?

  • flippit

    Crikey, if the article is as bad as that why did you bother to critiques so explicitly. Well, it seems explicit, reprinting whole paragraphs that way. Winder may have gone over the top but I think he touched a nerve somehow, you may say what he said is laughable but you didn’t like it being said.

    • David Marshall

      >>but you didn’t like it being said.

      Irrespective of my views on Scottish independence, I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with someone accusing Scotland of electing a National Socialist government.

  • ItinerantView

    The SNP have come a long way from their Fascists roots,when certain members hoped for a quick German victory in WW2,so they might set up a Vichy-style government.
    The pendulum seems to have swung to the opposite side,for the SNP are now 68ers,radical multiculturalists who deny there is any ethnic Scottish identity while cementing minority identities.

    • Angus_MacLellan

      And ‘civic nationalism’ is a misnomer. For those trying to deny Salmond is a socialist, may I remind he was booted out of the party in 80’s for his republican socialist views , and if you recall when the SNP won their first Holyrood election, all the fringe socialist parties were wiped out.

      • JPJ2

        The leader of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, started off as an avowed Marxist so what is your point?

    • Jambo25

      Some early SNP members adopted a neutralist stance towards WW2, at the start, seeing it as an imperialist war with no relevance to Scotland. I knew one of them. He started off refusing military service when he was called up and went on the run. Later, he agreed to military service and served in North Africa and Italy.

      • ItinerantView
      • ItinerantView

        Speccy automated mod wont let me post a reply that contains certain words,oh well.This Scotsmen article is revealing,they were more opportunistic than sympathetic it appears but a cautionary tale all the same.
        http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/books/gavin-bowd-reveals-some-uncomfortable-truths-in-fascist-scotland-1-2881250

        • Jambo25

          What becomes apparent from the Scotsman article is that apart from Douglas Young who took an anti-imperialist stance against the UK in WW2 (as did sections of the British Left) all the most pro-Fascist collaborators were staunchly Unionist: very often members of the upper class or aristocracy. Incidentally, the chap that Young sent the quote to, George Campbell Hay, was the bloke I referred to in my first posting. Mr. Campbell Hay later served in the 8th Army while the impeccably Unionist , Ramsay and Baillie Stewart were interned for suspected treason or making pro-Nazi broadcasts.
          If I was of a Unionist persuasion I’d keep quiet about WW2 given the very dodgy behaviour of so many upper class, Scottish Unionists.

          • ItinerantView

            Why would I keep quiet ? the vast majority of British people knew which side they were on. Whether they were Nats,Unionists or whatever,any differences paled when faced with the reality of the Third Reich.There were of course exceptions,apparent in all walks of life,not just among the aristocracy and upper classes.
            A cautionary tale for those who would hitch their wagons to ideologies and supranational movements, in order to further a local agenda.

            “an imperialist war with no relevance to Scotland”

            Before or after the Luftwaffe bombed Clydebank ?

            • Jambo25

              I didn’t say that Young was right; just that he wasn’t nearly as bad as the real pro Nazis who were virtually all devout Unionists. If you want to get involved in a slanging match over events of 70 odd years ago, then as a Unionist, you don’t have a particularly strong position when the only Scottish MP interned under 18B was a Scottish Unionist.

              • ItinerantView

                Go back and read what I actually wrote, it applies to anyone hitched to that wagon.
                This isn’t top trumps btw.

                • Jambo25

                  I did and there seems to be a disconnect between what actually happened during WW2 and what you claim happened.

                • ItinerantView

                  And what did I claim happened ?

                • Jambo25

                  “The SNP have come a long way from their Fascist roots”. That quote is clear to me. Unfortunately for you the Fascist sympathies lay with people who were devoutly Unionist and anything but Scottish nationalist.

                  I don’t even have to reference the headlines in the Daily Mail, Times and other uber Unionist media outlets.

                • ItinerantView

                  I do not say the SNP were sympathisers , certain members were ambiguous but saw possibilities in the German advance.You deny Nationalism and Fascism have an entwined history particularly in Europe in the 20th century ?

                  You better get onto the EU because entire networks of anti-fas have been set up, countering Nationalism is part of their brief.

                  (yes I know the Nats are not that kind of Nationalist,which is part of the problem,they really should change their name to antiNationalists or Scottish Socialists or something more fitting their politics)

                • Jambo25

                  “The SNP have come a long way from their Fascist roots.” You typed that: didn’t you? Let’s have examples of the SNP’s Fascist roots. By the information I gave, far less than the Fascism in Britnat Unionism back in the 30s and early 40s. For what its worth a fair number of historians and political scientists believe that the intellectual origins of Fascism can be traced back to left wing theorists such as Proudhon and Sorel and to strands of Catholic social teaching: not to classical European nationalism.
                  A form of heightened nationalism fed into Fascism but so to did traditional conservatism, Catholic teaching and socialism. Some early ideas of the Fabians, for example, were a bit Fascisty.

                • ItinerantView

                  You’re quite right, it’s inaccurate I should have said from their ethno-Nationalist roots to diversity is strength and a Nation of immigrants.

                  That works better actually, cheers.

                • Jambo25

                  So in no way Fascist which was what you claimed. In the meantime, at the period you referred to elements in the Unionist ruling class in Scotland and wider Britain were rather more than toying with Fascism.

                • ItinerantView

                  Not that either,continental Fascism had attractions for a variety of nationalists and radicals.
                  http://www.civilliberty.org.uk/newsdetail.php?newsid=1248
                  http://media.wix.com/ugd/8d0104_e0bbfd9c7a21c21674d12f3e99749bea.pdf

                • Jambo25

                  I’m not even sure what that means. However, it is worth pointing out that there was a cross border appeal of Fascism. Almost a Fascist International.

                • Jambo25

                  Look at the second web reference you give. Certainly there were individuals who were sympathetic to Fascism on the nationalist side. It is worth noting that McDiarmid was such a weirdo that he actually joined the Communist Party after the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956. However, it also states that the SNP annual congress actually passed a warning against the possibility of Scotland being dragged into a totalitarian state due to an English move towards Fascism as seemed to be happening at the time.
                  It’s also worth noting, again, and you seem to keep avoiding this, that the main support for Fascism and appeasement, in this country, came from the impeccably Unionist mainstream. The Times, Daily Mail, Lord Halifax, Lloyd George, half the Tory Party until 1938/39, sections of the UK left. Once again it has to be noted that the active Fascist/Nazi sympathisers were people like Mosely, Ramsay, Baille Stewart, John Amery etc. You’ve brought George Campbell Hay’s name up twice, in relation to this. I vaguely knew the man and Hay actually served in the 8th Army and didn’t have a Fascist bone in his body.
                  Stop trying to blame people for things they didn’t do and start looking at the very dark record of your Unionist forebears.

                • ItinerantView

                  “You’ve brought George Campbell Hay’s name up twice”

                  Where ?

                  “Stop trying to blame people for things they didn’t do”

                  Where do I say that and where do I lay blame for anything at all ? I said it’s a cautionary tale for ANYONE who hitches their wagon to supranational movements, in the hope of advancing their agenda.

                  Again,this isn’t top trumps.

                • Jambo25

                  In the extracts you’ve given or directed to of Douglas Young’s correspondence. Once again “The SNP have come a long way from their Fascist roots.” Your certainly trying to blame the SNP for something.

                • ItinerantView

                  Oh please.

                • Jambo25

                  Well. you either did or didn’t write that/ Let’s see; oh you did.

  • Cymrugel

    Well Mr Massie, perhaps you are now beginning to realise the mind-set that the YES campaign is up against.
    This is just the one that has caught your eye – plenty more of the same below the line here and elsewhere.
    Scottish independence is not synonymous with Alec Salmond – though its seems likely he would be the first Minister of the independent state initially – but he has become a hare figure for many unionists. This latest offering is little short of criminalising the man.
    The whole campaign has brought some pretty extreme views out of the closet. People who are themselves rabid UK/English nationalists and who do not like having their world view effectively challenged. When they thought the ASNP were a crank ginger group they could put up with them, but there is now a serious possibility that Scotland will secede and these characters are drifting increasingly towards a position of “if you can’t beat em, lock em up”.
    Who is the rail extremist I wonder?

    • Rex Ironsmith

      “Who is the rail extremist I wonder?”

      The Fat Controller.

      • orkers

        Eric Pickles?

  • Cath Ferguson

    “[S]hould there not perhaps be some minor element in Nato’s mission which involves dispatching squads to arrest anyone who organises political rallies around old battle commemorations?”

    I take it Wilder will be campaigning hard against the WWI commemorations? Especially if these turn out to have the typical flag waving British nationalist flavour that has infused so many things recently.

    • HJ777

      Er, plenty of flag waiving at “Yes” campaign rallies, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      By the way, WW1 wasn’t a battle, it was a war.

  • komment

    At first glance this article appears to be a well written
    expose of Mr. Winder’s uninformed views on Scotland, the Scots and Alex Almond.
    A second read reveals it is not so much a critique of Mr. Winder but a clever
    exercise in double-speak. The first clue is who, apart from Mrs Winder, has
    ever heard of Mr. Winder, I would suggest very few visitors to this blog, Mr
    Massie in the time honoured fashion has used someone else’s extreme and
    incredulous opinions to articulate his own extreme and incredulous opinions.
    This is a device used by many great writers down the ages; my first
    recollection is Socrates and his Plato’s Republic.

    The article is akin to Mark Anthony’s eulogy in Julius Caeser
    which opens with “I come to bury Caeser not praise him.” Mr. Massie opens with “I
    come to praise Alex Salmond not to buy hin.” And then he goes on to give a
    platform for Mr. Winder’s incredulous views, and in case you missed the worst
    of them first time round he repeats them with emphasis.

    In my humble view this is journalistic dishonesty and
    displays a lack of courage in one’s convictions.

    • allymax bruce

      “Mr Massie in the time honoured fashion has used someone else’s extreme and incredulous opinions to articulate his own extreme and incredulous opinions.” Well said. Massie has no personal integrity to put the article up in his own name. Like I’ve been saying for a while; journos have no moral integrity whatsoever.

    • flippit

      Yes but Alex Massie must be flattered being compared to Socrates. Anyone would.

      • komment

        Sorry if I misled you but i did not mean to dishonour the integrity of Socrates.

  • Richard Thomas

    If Mr Winder and his ilk wish to seek a comparator for Salmond and the SNP, they could do worse than look across the Irish Sea and contemplate Fianna Fail and the governments of one Charles Haughey. The equation of loyalty to the party with loyalty to the state, the centralisation with the consequent enhancement of the patronage system, the cosy relationships with rich men and, particularly, the uno duce una voce leadership prinzip can all be seen developing nicely in Edinburgh, ready for the yes vote they seek.

    • JPJ2

      Loyalty to party rather than loyalty to Scotland is much better evidenced by the “Scottish” Labour Party (who only exist in reality as a branch of the UK party and are really the Labour Party in Scotland)

  • Bonkim

    Alex Salmond is a Gentleman and I like him. I only wish he found some way not to push for separation from the U.K. the Scots have come off well from the past three hundred years of UK history across the Globe. Stick it through the stormy weather and the next three hundred years may well be even greater for Scotland within the U.K.

    • nae a belger

      You are aware that Alex is a unionist? Granted no extreme Unionist like his dad but a Unionist all the same.

      • Bonkim

        Why is he espousing separation from the U.K?

        • nae a belger

          He’s not. He is merely pointing out that Winder’s argument is nonsense.
          A bit like me saying that RIC’s nirvana of a Socialist Scotland is nonsense. Doesn’t mean I am a Unionist.
          I think from my reading Alex is somewhat of a reluctant Unionist.

  • asalord

    Sadly, many British nationalists will agree with Mr Winder.

  • komment

    Mr. Winder seems to be suffering from a obsessive compulsion disorder that forces him to write on a subject he knows little and understands even less. His lengthy diatribe appears to be for his own, possibly narcissistic, benefit because it has no meaning for those who wish to engage in serious debate on this very important event.
    I wonder why it is that people who do not live in Scotland and do not have a vote wish to influence those who do. I find it difficult to believe their advice is selfless.

  • Lachie Macquarie

    Ach Alex, thank you for that. I can’t believe I agree with most of your analysis of Master Winder.

  • randomsausage

    Author clearly madder than a wet hen. Will probably get his own column in The Spectator, from next month.

    • rod robertson

      No he sounds more a Scotsman or job share with Cochrane on the Torygraph, he too is completely bonkers.

  • Auldreekie

    It’s incredible that, after nearly two and a half centuries of nations all around the world seeking and winning independence from rule from London, it still has its advocates, for whom the penny hasn’t dropped.

    The cause of Scottish independence is not a wild irrationalism, an ugly and sinister intrusion on peaceful Britannia. It is the same desire for self-government expressed by all these other nations. But these were far away, some might say. What about Ireland? The same kind of ‘we’re all British’, ‘nasty narrow-minded nationalism’ arguments were made against Irish independence. And now the independence of the Irish Republic and its citizens is accepted with equanimity by Westminster, Whitehall, and the British establishment.

    The growing popular movement towards an independent Scotland is the final stage of the dissolution of the Empire. Should there be a ‘No’ victory in September, the issue will certainly not go away: the movement is too strong and, whether in September or in a few years time, the UK as we know it will not last. But that should be thought of as an opportunity, not a tragedy: an opportunity to build a new, modern, equitable, cooperative relationship amongst the nations of these islands. In a few years’ time, that will be generally recognised, and all but a few will wonder what all the fuss was about.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Agreed, apart from the ‘independent’ bit. Wee ‘eck doesn’t want independence does he? Only a rearrangement with his EU masters – with £s.

      Vote Yes

  • La Fold

    This man helped make it a crime in Scotland to sign certain songs, such as god save the queen or to cross yourself in an aggressive fashion. Certainly sounds totalitarian to me.

    • Kate

      I don’t think that’s a particularly great piece of legislation, but I’m not going to the wall arguing for peoples’ rights to sing songs glorifying terrorist activities in Northern Ireland. It is not a crime to sing ‘God Save the Queen’ in Scotland. It is not a crime to cross yourself. Don’t be silly.

      • La Fold

        Oh yes it is under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and threatening communications act.

        • Kate

          Right. Key words being “at football” here. So we’re clear; it is not a crime to sing God Save the Queen or cross yourself if you’re not at a football match. Which is most people, most of the time.

          • La Fold

            So in your view, as long as we ban stuff at just football matches then thats alright? Still a tad totalitarian if you ask me.
            Oh aye and you’re still wrong, the threatening communications part covers everywhere else away from football. If someone deems an action such as singing God Save The Queen or crossing themselves as being offensive you can be charged with a sectarian crime.
            Away and let the grown ups talk eh.

            • Kate

              Did you miss the bit where I said (twice) that I wasn’t a supporter of that legislation? Incidentally, sectarianism is an aggravation, not a crime in itself, so you might like to think about that bit more.

              • La Fold

                Youve only stated to me once your against the legislation. Secondly you said you could not be arrested and charged with an offence if they were to sing god save the queen or crossing yourself in an aggressive manner which you can, if someone deems to be offended by it or the police deem someone could be offended by it. Your argument about it being an aggravation is nonsense, how many people will be charged for singing “I will survive” walking home from the pub?

                • Kate

                  Do you not understand the difference between a crime and an aggravation? 4

                • La Fold

                  Yes love. Ive been in prison so know a thing or two about the legal system. However my point is, if I was singing say “Saturday night fever” would I be charged? Possibly for break of the peace or for crimes against singing. However if I was to be singing God save the queen and someone believed this to be sectarianly motivated I could be arressted and charged under the offensive behaviour and threatening communications act. This is why we are in the position in this country where people are being arrested, charged and convicted for singing the Famine song. Now that to me is totalitarian.

    • Matthew Blott

      Is that actually true or are you just talking crap?

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Stick to fulminating in Starbucks.

      • La Fold

        Underneath the offensive behaviour and threatening communications act, otherwise known as the anti sectarian bill you can be arrested and charged for these very actions.

  • Simon Winder

    I’m sorry to have caused so much upset! I should point out that a number of the quotes you are so horrified about are patently there for comic effect. But I do think it is legitimate to be really worried about the referendum’s impact. If the Yes camp is defeated, will everyone REALLY just settle down again – it seems unlikely. If profound passions are NOT being stirred up then why bother to have a referendum at all? ‘Civic nationalism’ is simply nationalism which has not yet been put under real pressure. Massie makes the whole referendum appear to be a sort of essay in reasonableness – but what is reasonable about tearing up a three century relationship, dumping Ulster and cutting away a great socialist or social democrat tradition from the rest of the UK?

    I would agree with Massie that my describing Salmond as ‘socialist’ is simplistic – but I could not think of another label which catches the roots of his involvement in the SNP (which was patently on the basis of the ‘anti-colonial’ left) and the key point of difference which he wants Scots to see in relation to ‘the Westminster government’ – that independence would allow an egalitarian agenda to flourish in Scotland, currently choked off by the machinations of English Tories.

    I’m totally happy to agree that my whole piece could just be a mad fantasy – and it would be great if it were – but there was a sort of mutual loathing that began to develop last month, over the EU, the currency arrangements, etc. that I thought was really chilling. If the SNP do not win the referendum you can already see their bitter argument that this was because of a many-tentacled conspiracy which ‘frightened’ Scots into blowing their destiny. Whereas, of course, on all polls, a majority of Scots simply find their current position within the UK either tolerable or actually a valuable part of their real identity.

    • Robert Dickson

      “I’m totally happy to agree that my whole piece could just be a mad fantasy ”

      That’s handy…..

    • JohnMcDonaldish

      Thing is, even the most deluded British Nationalist will be as welcome in an independent Scotland as anyone else.

    • Jings

      Scots are of course traditionally socialist. Salmond couldn’t get where he is without at least a nod in that direction.

      • Jambo25

        Scots are traditionally ‘centrists’ which is why short lived attempts to create left-socialist parties such as the SSP collapsed.

        • La Fold

          Plus tommy couldnt keep it in his trousers out or his nose clean.

          • Jambo25

            Even before that the SSP was never more than an ephemeral side show.

            • La Fold

              very true. Remember Rosie Kanes claim to have only read one book? Its not big and its not clever.

      • nae a belger

        Central belt Scots. I suspect if you look at the SNP heartlands (Moray, Aberdeenshire,Perthshire) you would find that they are all ex-Tory and their support is primarily Independence based.

    • ChuckieStane

      Simon,
      I don’t see many laughing and your “comic effect”.
      Why is Scotland uniquely to be denied self-determination?
      Why do you treat an exclusively democratic movement with such disdain if not downright hate?

      In your numerous trips across the border did you not pick up that indy draws support across all sections of society?
      Do you not read how the driving force for many is to correct the democratic deficit and to introduce a fairer more decent society?
      Your “comic” suggestions regarding executions, internment, NATO arrest squads (FFS) add nothing to the debate – were you pished when you wrote them?

      • HJ777

        Who has suggested that Scotland, uniquely, is to be denied self-determination?

        • James Morrison

          Simon Winder. His article regrets the fact that the British Government has accommodated Scottish nationalism by allowing the referendum to take place, rather than behaving as the Habsburg Empire may have in respect of its various national movements.

          • HJ777

            But what influence has he and who does he represent? No-one.

            You can always find someone espousing almost anything, Some people want a world government…

            Note that you said “why IS Scotland uniquely to be denied self-determination?” It isn’t being denied it.

            • James Morrison

              1. The article above and the responses to it are entirely centred on that one’s man opinion. So he must have *some* influence for it to be a) published and b) more widely considered.

              2. I didn’t say that Scotland is being denied self-determination and I don’t think the other user did either. I think they were asking the question rhetorically, but you would need to ask “ChuckieStane” that.

    • Kate

      The essential flaw at the root of your silly article was your failure to understand that Scotland is, was and will be a nation (regardless of the referendum result) and has, for hundreds of years,negotiated and changed the nature of its relationship with the other nations we share an island with. The Independence referendum is just another conversation in that ongoing dialogue. If there’s a YES vote, then the constitutional status is clear. If it’s a no, then the negotiations and conversations continue as to exactly what powers should be exercised from London and which from Edinburgh. We YES supporters are not a crazy, kilted, ethnically homogenous group seeking to break away from our home state. We are taking a particular position on an ongoing constitutional dialogue. Calling us fascists or Nazis just comes over as ludicrous. Suggesting that it is all somehow down to the wiles of one man, Alex Salmond, insults the intelligence of us all, especially as the majority of YES campaigners are not SNP supporters and a substantial minority were not born or educated in Scotland.

      • Simon Winder

        Well, I should probably just apologize. I hoped that by writing as hyperbolic piece as possible it would get noticed and make readers engage with the serious issues too – but clearly I have completely misjudged this as so many readers have simply been infuriated and left it at that. I cannot shake a sense of deep unease though about how events are unfolding. It looks as though No will win, but nationalism is a terrible creature and even in a relatively polite Scottish form I cannot see how it can shake off its almost unvarying shape-shifting tendency to go toxic. It is not a coincidence that the referendum is being played out against the backdrop of the weird arrival of UKIP and I fear that Scotland’s departure from the UK would so undermine the idea of ‘Britishness’ (currently invaluable as an umbrella for millions of citizens) that Scottish nationalism could kick off serious English nationalism. Modern European history is a sort of horrible pageant of good intentions going completely wrong – the UK is almost unique in having been sheltered from this for geographical and military reasons. Rupturing a relationship which goes back to, what? before the invention of the novel! and vaguely just hoping for the best on stuff like currencies, jobs, the future of the rest of Britain, the EU, etc. really frightens me – and not in the ‘fearful’ way that Yes always tar No – but because it has the potential to go truly horribly wrong. Anyway – that’s all I meant to say and I am sorry for the stuff, which I agree is silly, about internment camps, etc.

        • Randy McDonald

          “Well, I should probably just apologize. I hoped that by writing as
          hyperbolic piece as possible it would get noticed and make readers
          engage with the serious issues too”

          How can people engage you on the issues if you suggest that your interpretation of the issues is wildly off-base? Why would they do it at all?

    • Kitty MLB

      Scotland is inherently socialist ( apologies to dear Ally & Duncan)
      which is why they hate Conservatives and much more then they hate England.
      Slippery Salmond deliberately waited for a Conservative government, so he
      could prey on that hatred( we have a Lib Dum led coalition, but never mind)
      he has made this his own hate fuelled personal agenda and will sacrifice
      beautiful Scotland for that.

      • Kate

        Kitty, this is ludicrous too. Salmond didn’t wait ‘deliberately’ for a Tory Government; he waited until he had an SNP majority in the Scottish Government to get support for the referendum. He couldn’t have done it before then. I’m still very unclear as to who it is Salmond ‘hates’ which fuels his ‘personal agenda’. The idea of Scottish independence is not something he dreamed up. The man is not yet 60; he’s not 700 years old.

        • Maidmarrion

          Don’t bother to respond to the poster – they’ve ” slippery Salmond” their way over other sites and deserve to be ignored.

      • Jambo25

        Scotland dislikes the Tory Party as it is the Tory Party: a party which appears to represent the suburban south of England and only the suburban south of England. I’d describe myself as a Christian Democrat but I’m also a nationalist. I suspect that Christian Democracy or right wing Social Democracy is also Salmond’s natural home as well.
        If Salmond is preying on hatred you should have no difficulty demonstrating examples of it. The reality is that the timetable for the referendum was set by the Scottish electoral cycle which didn’t give the SNP a majority until 2011 and the stupidity of Labour which pulled the rug from under Wendy Alexander when she was willing to co-operate with Salmond and the SNP to have a referendum in 2008 or 2009.

        • HJ777

          On that basis it dislikes the SNP too, as the share of the vote received by the SNP and the Tories in Scotland in general elections is similar.

          Now you can point to Holyrood elections, but we know that many Tories and LibDems vote SNP in these elections simply to keep Labour out.

          As for Salmond’s “natural home” – why is it necessary to “suspect” what it is? Should it not be obvious if he is being honest with us?

          • Jambo25

            Sorry but you cannot discount the elections you don’t like. At the last Holyrood election the SNP was about 30 points ahead of the Tories. Let’s see, shall we, what the Tories do in the Euro elections in <ay up here.

            • HJ777

              Where did I discount elections I don’t like? Obviously if someone votes for a party in a general election they are unlikely to dislike that party, even if they vote for another party in another election.

              So I merely pointed out some facts. Do you challenge them?

              I note that you didn’t answer my question. No change there then.

              • Jambo25

                Well you did rather dismiss the importance of Holyrood elections. Incidentally, I cannot think of much information to suggest that Tories and Lib Dems vote Tory to keep Labour out of Holyrood.

                • HJ777

                  I did nothing of the sort. I merely pointed out what is widely accepted about the Holyrood election.

                  Of course, it would not be an unreasonable argument to suggest that the GE is more representative of Scottish opinion (and the relative esteem in which voters hold the two parliaments) simply on the basis of turnout – which was much higher for the GE.

                  I know you don’t do numbers, but if you look at the votes at the GE vs Holyrood elections, it is plain as day that many Tory and LibDem votes simply transferred to the SNP. Most political commentators accept the ‘anti-Labour’ explanation.

                  Your repeated failure to acknowledge questions you don’t like is noted, by the way. But then you are a serial offender in that regard.

                • JPJ2

                  As Holyrood elections use a PR system there is much less pressure to vote against something as the concept of a “wasted vote” is much less dominant or real.
                  As I pointed out after the 2010 general election most analysts had failed to spot that under FPTP many people otherwise inclined to vote SNP had actually voted Labour as a vote against the Tories.
                  The reality is you have mis-analysed this completely. as it is the 2010 GE not the 2011 Holyrood election which shows massive voting against, rather than for, a party.

                • HJ777

                  Your analysis is precisely wrong.

                  If tactical voting is more likely in a GE, then why do the Tories consistently get a higher percentage of the vote than in Holyrood elections even though they stand to win almost no seats?

                  In a PR system, because it requires larger swings in voting to have a significant effect on the outcome, tactical voting is more likely, not less.

                  Political analysts pretty much all agree with my interpretation. You are simply wrong.

                • JPJ2

                  Who are these analysts who agree with your view that PR systems attract greater tactical voting-in a minority in my view.
                  What is your explanation for the high Labour vote for the GE and the much smaller vote for Holyrood if it is not tactical voting?

                • HJ777

                  I was referring to analysis of the voting specifically in Scotland.

                  My explanation is (in large part) the huge difference in turnout. The turnout for the Holyrood election is much lower.

                • JPJ2

                  The lower turnout for the Holyrood election given the sharp fall in the Labour percentage vote, means that the absolute fall in the Labour vote from GE to Holyrood is even more pronounced.
                  That supports my view that far and away the most powerful tactical event at the GE 2010 & Holyrood 2011 was the tactical vote for Labour in 2010 to keep the Tories out.
                  Anyway my view that a lot of people who really preferred the SNP to Labour, voted Labour in 2010 to keep the Tories out, helped me to make a nice little sum betting on substantial SNP gains in 2011.
                  Here’s a tip-expect the SNP to be comfortably the largest party at Holyrood in 2016 regardless of the referendum outcome.

        • Maidmarrion

          see above.

      • allymax bruce

        Kitty my dear, I agree with you; but it’s not Alex’ Salmond’s fault. Scotland unfortunately has a high degree o’ cringers, that just luv tae hate! Only yesterday a No-voter was cringing about hating Alex’ Salmond because Alex’ Salmond bought him lunch a few years back! I asked him why he hated Alex’ salmond though? His reply was because he felt like ‘Alex’ Salmond was trying to buy his support’. I said to the bloke, but all politicians do that; they go around peoples houses, and ask for their support. He had nothing to say other than he hates Alex’ anyway. Politics shouldn’t stir peoples in-built hatred the way it’s doing.

        • Maidmarrion

          The media shouldn’t stir up hatred and neither should political spokespersons .
          I have yet to hear Alex Salmond speak against any nationality with hatred, which is what I would expect of the intelligent.

    • James Morrison

      Scottish nationalists (of varying intensity) have lived happily within the United Kingdom for the last 300 years and without recourse to violence. I think it is up to you to explain why they would suddenly become violent in reaction to a democratic vote that went against them.

    • kininvie

      Credit to you Simon for posting here.

      You know, I agree with you about the element of ‘loathing’ that has crept in, and it’s mighty unfortunate. But you do need to analyse where it has come from before plonking its consequences on the SNP.

      The Scottish Government’s White Paper held out a vision of what Scotland can become – and assumed, perhaps naively – that its partner in the Union would co-operate in seeking the necessary compromises that would benefit both nations and which would acknowledge the ties which will continue to bind us.

      But this is not what we on the Yes side have experienced. Quite the contrary. I won’t bother to go into detail, but the perception is growing that what we were led to believe was an equal partnership is in fact no such thing. And the blame for that perception must be laid fairly and squarely on the stance taken by Westminster. Read the sequence of analysis papers, and you will see that Scotland is deemed to have no rights and no existence.

      Your last two sentences are interesting because, yet again, they raise the identity question. The referendum is not about identity. The SNP has clearly stated that. You can be as British as you wish within an independent Scotland – in fact, geography makes us all British. The referendum is about governance, not identity. As for the ‘many-tentacled conspiracy’ – you exaggerate again. The Edinburgh agreement commits both sides to work with the result, whatever it is. The argument for independence won’t go away – why should it? But a democracy accepts a fair result that has not been gerrymandered – maybe with bad grace – but it accepts it.

      • Doggie Roussel

        The referendum is about governance, not identity

        Bollox… the referendum is solely about funding the wretched Scotch… hence the inevitable outcome of a No vote…

        Wake up, all you Scotch airheads….

        • Maidmarrion

          And that’s the kind of ” argument” we have come to expect.
          Simon , take note.

    • CraigStrachan

      Don’t be too sorry, Mr Winder: this blog alerted me to the availability of “Danubia”, which I have just ordered in one easy click from Amazon.

    • allymax bruce

      Simon, the ‘passions being stirred up’, are fundamentally ‘hatecrime’ by the unionists, (Henry McLeish, sunday-past, stated Labour must stop hating Scotland’s First Minister Alex’ Salmond), the tv stations STV, BBC,and the rag-trade. The level of ‘dark noise’ hate being spewed out over these mediums is very distrubing & harmful; it’s functionally Psychological Warfare using harmful propaganda. This vilifying of SNP politicians by Labour; (Neil Findlay was at it again on Wed’ in Holyrood, suggesting information was being deliberately with-held), is very hurtful to viewers watching this propaganda. I don’t watch STV, nor BBC anymore because of the ‘dark noise’ hate stuff. Once Scotland votes Yes, we have to live with each other; the hateful cringing element to Scottish politics is very harmful; gonnaenodaethat !

      • Maidmarrion

        Not to mention the lying by omission and the poisonous efforts to implicate the SNP and Alex Salmond in particular in any sort of negative.
        I believe that impartial broadcaster is ferreting away trying to find dirty needles to blame on the SG , and another newspaper backing a claim of vandalism by a Labour part rep. A claim which has been thoroughly over turned by civil investigators but already the poison has been placed in the MSM.

        • allymax bruce

          Maidmarrion, what we are seeing in Scottish politics is an incredible display of breath-taking stupidity; because Labour drones STV, (News, Scotland Tonight), BBC Scotland (News, Newsnight), Scotchman, Herod etc, all have complete control over content, distribution & emission of TV,Radio, Press, news/propaganda in Scotland, they have decided to press the ‘negative’ neutron-bomb button, to blow away the Alex’ Salmond/SNP/Yes campaign. It won’t work. All it will do is make Alex’ Salmond more invincible, and ultimately more electable. Why? Because, these MSM/Media institutions have purposely made Alex’ Salmond their target; as such, the tribal dichotomy is No campaign/Labour/Tories/Lib-Dums/MSM/Media all verses Alex’ Salmond/SNP/Yes campaign. And, I see it more and more, the Yes campaign will win this ireferendum by a Yes win landslide; making Alex’ Salmond the winner by proxy for all. The winner is always favourite going into the next ‘battle’; 2016 iScotland elections. Nobody is fooled by the MSM anymore.

    • David Marshall

      Having lived in Yorkshire from 2004 until 2012, i disagree with the following:

      “a dislike of Scotland that was simply non-existent before”

      I lived in Yorkshire from 2004 until 2012 and there was a huge amount of anti-scottish feeling from the 2006 world cup. Until the whole Andy Murray et al thing most English people were completely unaware of any anti-English feeling in Scotland. Up until that point I had one anti-scottish comment a year. From then it was quite frequent.

      • Maidmarrion

        Well blame the BBBC for that one.
        Even though the interviewer has tried time and again , even with the lovey Tim Henman ,pal of Andy explained the whole thing over and over again, the media played it on and on.
        I often wondered having seen and heard a shy but genial young man called Andy Murray interviewd by other stations , why he would be anything but mono syllabic with the BBBC.

    • Randy McDonald

      “I would agree with Massie that my describing Salmond as ‘socialist’ is
      simplistic – but I could not think of another label which catches the
      roots of his involvement in the SNP”

      Not distinguishing between Sweden and the Soviet Union–never mind, say, Christian Democrats and Communists–is not the mark of a wise critique.

  • Kitty MLB

    Maybe that ballooned ego, Wee Eck, he who floats around in his own hot air of pompous self- esteem
    is no evil dictator, but just wait until he becomes Le Presidente. He most certainly is
    manipulative, thinks he is unquestionably right about every matter and authoritarian .
    He has deviously created a ‘ bitter together’ campaigne, as to play on peoples
    emotions and dreams of riding the highlands like Wallace instead of sense and reason. Scotland will be a small isolated country starting out again.
    If some are foolish enough to think they are oppressed then just wait until that ego
    takes control. There is no direction just sheer blooded mindedness and arrogance.

    • Kate

      Hi Kitty
      An independent Scotland would not have un ‘Presidente’; the queen would remain head of state.
      Not sure that Wallace was into ‘riding the highlands’ . . most of his military success was in the lowlands.
      Scotland is not particularly a ‘small country’. It’s about average-sized.
      Other than that your post makes perfect sense.

      • HJ777

        The point being that Salmond behaves in a presidential manner now he has a majority in Holyrood.

        He pays little heed to the Scottish Parliament as he knows that he can force through any measure he pleases. Salmond is as interested in power as he is Scottish independence. One might suspect that the latter is just his preferred route to the former.

        • Kate

          Surely that’s true of every leader of a majority government in democracy, that they can ‘force’ through measures . . that’s normal, not remarkable. But be fair, if Salmond’s key goal in life was power per se, he wouldn’t have joined the SNP when it stood at 10% or so in the polls.

          • HJ777

            Not really.

            There is no second chamber in the Scottish Parliament, which makes it far easier for him to simply force through measures now he has a majority. That is one reason why the Holyrood electoral system was designed to make it hard for one party to achieve a majority.

            He may not have started out with power as his key goal, but people change…

            • James Morrison

              Alex Salmond cannot pass “any measure he pleases” for the following reasons:
              1. The Scottish Parliament can only legislate in areas that are not reserved to Westminster.
              2. The SNP presently has an overall majority of 1.

              • HJ777

                Any measure he pleases that is within the powers of the parliament. I would have thought that went without saying.

                The SNP has an overall majority, as I said.

                • James Morrison

                  1. But that isn’t what you said.

                  2. An overall majority of one. And it’s not as if SNP members are especially loyal to Salmond; two of them resigned the whip earlier in this Parliament due to a change in defence policy (which is theoretical in case of independence actually happening!) In addition to this there is the traditional fault-line between gradualists and fundies, which will probably reassert itself if the referendum goes against the SNP.

            • Kitty MLB

              Rather like Tony Blair not starting out that
              way (although maybe he did) they say
              power corrupts. Just wait untill they
              have a national holiday on wee Eck’s
              birthday and his face is plastered on billboards.

              • Maidmarrion

                You add nothing but foolish insult which displays your stupidity and ignorance.

                • Kitty MLB

                  You really need to do something about that lack of humour,
                  if you were to fall over then you would crack..Do lighten up
                  for goodness sake. Taking politics far too seriously is unhealthy as you prove.. Why don’t you toddle off and find
                  King Arthur.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Why do they want HMQ? I thought they wanted ‘independence’ rather than (In)dependence

        • allymax bruce

          I luv our Queen; she’s our Monarch; Scotland’s very own Queen of Scots.

  • kininvie

    Alex, I think ‘bonkers’ is probably rather too mild.

    What concerns me more is that a magazine which claims ‘its core mission as being “to celebrate western covilisation”, its arts and its values – in particular democracy, debate and freedom of speech – at a time when they are under threat (Wiki)’ should act as a platform for these ravings.

    As you may have surmised, whatever the result of the referendum, there has been a massive revivial of ‘democracy, debate and freedom of speech’ inside Scotland. Meetings in small towns and villages draw audiences in numbers that would be unthinkable for mere party politics. People who have never bothered to vote are registering, informing themselves, taking up one side or the other of the debate…

    It would seem from Winder’s essay that he appears to regard the Scottish referendum as a kind of re-run of 1848 in central Europe, where ethnic nationalisms collided with one another and with absolutist power. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that an ancient European nation merely wishes to regain its sovereignty and then live in harmony with its neighbours.

    I have a real problem with the reaction of people like Winder to this. It generates hostility where there should be reason.

    The irony is that, if only the campaign to keep Scotland in the Union had adopted a strategy from the beginning of welcoming Scottish right to self determination and promising every support should that be what they chose, they would have won this referendum hands down. As it is, the campaign is in danger of losing.

    It all began with that first ‘analysis’ paper which stated that Scotland was extinguished as a country after 1707 and became part of a ‘greater Engand’. That was an extraordinarily unhelpful message.

  • Wessex Man

    Oh good grief, I think I’m going to faint, I actually strongly agree with Alex Massie!

  • CraigStrachan

    “A Union that cannot be left is a coercive Union”

    Like the United States?

    • Kate

      It’s an interesting discussion to have with American constitutional experts as to whether or not the states of the USA are ‘nations’ in the European sense with a right or drive to self-determination. Interesting, but not that relevant. The United Kingdom IS, by its own founding document, a union of ‘nations’.

      • CraigStrachan

        Yet U.S. states have and exercise far more sovereign power than does Scotland. And for Americans the primary identification, before the Civil War, was with their state. (When Robert E. Lee referred to “my country” he meant Virginia).

        But I suppose the Civil War tells us all we need to know about whether the US is a union that can be left.

        • randomsausage

          God, I wish we could secede here in California…..

          • CraigStrachan

            Not going to happen. We should concentrate on Californicating the rest of the union, starting by electing Jerry Brown president in 2016.

      • allymax bruce

        Well said, Kate. The American Civil War embedded the point of States seceding, was illegal. The United Kingdom, is absolutely a union of two nations; completely different from USA.

  • Andrew MacGregor

    Goodness me…..
    Not only are his analogous examples utterly erroneous, his understanding of Scots, Scotland and Scottishness are at odds with everything I’ve ever experienced living there, or in England or even abroad. His lack of understanding of the motivations of the SNP in pursuing self determination for RESIDENTS of Scotland, as opposed to Scots, exemplified in actuality by his refusal to make it about Scottish born voters and excluding expats is very telling – although it has to be stated that the view of Anglophobia noted above by the author is also ignorant of the fact that the SNP as well as other leading Yes campaign groups have significant English representation in their ranks.
    And whilst sympathetic to the remainder of the UK, it is not the referendum in Scotland that will produce a disgusting nationalism in England. That is already seeding and will eventually come about irrespective of the outcome in Scotland.
    The worst aspect of Winder’s assertions though is actually to call for a very fascist undemocratic solution. Whether state sponsored assassination (murder) or imposing exiles breaching human rights we fought hard to protect. His ironic solution to the democratic process is to turn the UK into a dictatorship suppressing all democratic aspiration so as to maintain some kind of absolutist establishment.
    He is clearly some sort of intellectual pygmy with way too much time on his hands.

  • Jings

    Quite frankly I think he’s well on his way, what with the State Guardians, the single Police Force and the abolition of corroboration.

    • Kate

      Given that Scotland is the only state in the world to have strict corroboration rules keeping certain kinds of cases out of court, hard to see how abolishing it is a sign of fascism (whether or not it’s the right thing to do). Unless every other nation in the world except Scotland is fascist?

    • DougDaniel

      Here’s a question for you: how many countries in Europe have a single national police force?

      Here’s a clue: it’s more than one.

      • La Fold

        Russia?

        • DougDaniel

          Having a bit of trouble understanding the concept of numbers there, I see.

          • La Fold

            Your a comical man aint you. You’ll look funny when you’re 50. But you know exactly the point im making.

            • DougDaniel

              Yes, I know the point you’re trying to make, and it’s complete garbage. Try actually looking at how other countries do things and you might learn something.

              To (partly) answer my own question: of the 27 non-UK members of the EU, the number of member states who have national police forces is…

              (Drum roll please)

              27.

              Of those 27 (i.e. all of them), just NINE have distinct municipal/regional forces, and these tend to be the federal countries like Germany, Belgium and Austria.

              Included amongst the 18 who have no distinct regional forces are our nearest neighbours, Ireland, as well as Denmark, Finland and Sweden – you know, the countries that tend to rank highly for things like social equality, and lowly for things like corruption.

              So, still want to try and suggest that a single national force is somehow linked to fascism, or whatever snide little insinuation it is you’re trying to make?

              (For Europe in a wider context, it’s the same picture – Norway and Iceland only have a national force; unsurprisingly so do Monaco, San Marino, Andorra and Liechtenstein; the non-EU Baltic states all have national forces; and so on.)

              • La Fold

                Seeing as my last post was moderated I shall say it again.

                I have made no snide assumptions about the SNP being Nazis or fascistic. That gives them too much
                credit. I think they are on par with your average Parish council.

                My point was just because other countries have one doesnt mean its a great idea for us to have one.

                And your point is complete garbage as well. Look at other countries and learn? Lets do it.

                Lets try the (mythical) Auld Alliance, France first. It has two separate national police forces. The police nationale
                and the Gendarmerie Nationale, operated by the ministry of the interior and ministry of defence respectively. There is also the financial crimes branch called the Douane as well as most cities and towns having a specific Police
                Municipal. There is a division and balance of power between several agencies. This is also the case regarding Itlays Polizia di Stato, Gaurda de finanza and the
                carabaneri. This is not the case with the newly formed Police Scotland.

                German and Austria have are obviously
                organised on a federal system and for historical reasons have been very mistrustful of national police agenciesaond operate on the state level.

                As for your other point in regards to Finalnd, a quiick look at its website and it shows its “National” police force is split into 24 local departments.

                Swedens police force is organised nationally but then operated on a county level, splitting it into 21 different police authorities.

                Again Norway is operated out of 27 police districts.
                Do you want me to go on?

                Try looking a little deeper and you might learn something.

                • DougDaniel

                  “My point was just because other countries have one doesnt mean its a great idea for us to have one.”

                  That’s nice. My point (the one to which you replied “Russia?”) was that to suggest that a single police force is somehow fascistic (as “Jings” did in the post I replied to) is, quite frankly, moronic. I did that by highlighting the fact that Scotland is far from alone in Europe in having a single national police force. I wasn’t saying it was right or wrong to have a single police force – merely pointing out that there is no correlation between fascist states and single police forces.

                  A single police force might not be the right option for Scotland, but that would be because of Scotland’s specific conditions, rather than anything inherent in single police forces.

                  “Again Norway is operated out of 27 police districts.Do you want me to go on?”

                  Yes please, I’d like you to tell us how many divisions Police Scotland is split into.

                  (Here’s a clue – it’s more than 13 and less than 15).

                • Jambo25

                  I think you should be the one which looks a bit harder

              • HJ777

                Having briefly lived in Denmark, I was under the impression that there were about a dozen local police districts, each with their own head of police, as well as a national police force with different responsibilities.

                I don’t know about the other countries you mention but are you sure of your facts? I don’t think you’re right about Denmark.

                • DougDaniel

                  As I’ve already hinted at to La Fold, Police Scotland is also split into divisions. For example, the Local Police Commander for Aberdeen City Division is Chief Superintendent Adrian Watson.

                  Rigspolitiet, the Danish national police force, have authority over all regions of Denmark, just as Police Scotland have authority over all regions of Scotland. Grampian Police, by contrast, was completely separate from Strathclyde or Lothians police. Which, in a country of just 5.3 million folk who all live under the same legal system, was always a bit silly.

                • nae a belger

                  No it is not silly. The system stopped central belt domination of resources and policy.
                  Especially given that what has happened has been a Strathclyde/Met takeover.

                • Jambo25

                  I heard the same complaint when the fire service was ‘nationalised’. Complaints were made in Dumfries and Galloway that all their better fire equipment would be sent up to Strathclyde. That went on until a couple of firemen who drink one of the local pubs I frequent pointed out to the complainers that the old D&G service didn’t have anything that Strathclyde would want.

                • nae a belger

                  Which means it was bad before. Imagine how much worse it will be in the centralised future.

                • Jambo25

                  It isn’t. The harsh fact tis that, in policing terms, Scotland, a nation of 5.3 million people had 8 separate forces. Each force was spending up to 25% of its expenditure on HQ functions. In a period of austerity that was/is simply unsustainable. A similar situation was in force as regards the fire service.

                • nae a belger

                  Then perhaps some of the HQ functions should have been centralised (Uniform/HR/Finance/IT etc)
                  Or 3 forces with a North South and Central divide
                  However the proof will be in the pudding. How will D&G/Grampian etc fare under the new regime? Will we see more officers directed to Elgin or Kelso? Or as I suspect Easterhouse and Castlemilk.Let’s hope I am wrong.

                • Jambo25

                  1) Much of the HQ costs were/are tied up in staffing. The only way to drop the costs is to cut the staffing. Get rid of 7 of the HQs. 2) I stay in D&G about half of the week and I haven’t noticed much difference in policing though the traffic cops seem to be a bit more officious. 3) I do feel that the appointment of House and a largely Strathclyde team, at the top, wasn’t particularly clever but that won’t last for ever.

                • nae a belger

                  I suspect that much HQ work was unnecessarily duplicated and savings could have been made by centralising that. On that I agree.
                  Re Mr House – whilst he and his team will not last for ever, the problem is that they will promote like minded types.
                  Officers will have to tow the “Strathclyde” line and I can see advancement being dependent on working in specialist areas (which will be ran in Glasgow by Strathclyde types)
                  End result being that the ideas of House will go on for a lot longer than his tenure.
                  The simple proof is the loss of Aberdeen control room in Police and Aberdeen & Inverness in Fire.
                  Where are the facilities going? Central belt.

                • Jambo25

                  You can see that there was duplication but you don’t want any surplus facilities closed down. Fire control has gone to Tayside, not the Central Belt.

                • Angus_MacLellan

                  I doubt if that was Salmond’s motivation.

                • Jambo25

                  I think Salmond’s and more importantly Swinney’s motivation is to save money. The Scottish budget has been under severe strain for the past few years due to our London masters’ obsession with the deficit.

                • HJ777

                  That’s not the same thing. Obviously a national police force (if that’s all there is) will be split into divisions for practical management reasons.

                  That is not the same as having separately operating district police AND a separate national police force.

                • DougDaniel

                  Indeed, it isn’t the same thing. That’s why I specified that of the 27 EU nations with national forces, nine have municipal/local forces as well. But I’m afraid Denmark isn’t one of those nine. The Rigspolitiet has jurisdiction over the whole of Denmark. There are no local forces independent of the national force. Everyone is an employee of the Rigspolitiet (whereas an employee of Strathclyde Police was not an employee of Lothians Police).

      • CraigStrachan

        How many countries in Europe appoint a non-family member as state guardian for every child in the land?

      • Angus_MacLellan

        How many countries can say 1 in 3 of their youths have been subject to police ‘stop and search’ ?

    • Jings

      In the context of State Guardians watching over every parent, the latter two pieces of legislation have the potential for serious tyranny whatever other countries may do. The organs of State will surely give preference to their own over any nonconforming persons or even those who merely rub them up the wrong way.

      • Kate

        No idea what ‘the latter two pieces of legislation’ you refer to are. Also have absolutely no idea what you mean about the ‘organs of the state’ giving preference to ‘their own’. Do you think that this child safeguarding legislation (that I have no particular view as to the merits of) is a backdoor way for Alex Salmond to take into care the children of people who vote NO or something crazed like that?

        • Jings

          Child safeguarding has its merits, but here this aspect is merely sheep’s clothing for the Statist wolf. It certainly pulled the wool over the Scottish parliament’s eyes. Taking children into care is a powerful if implicit threat, which like most threats is more powerful than its actual execution. The referendum instance a bit ephemeral.

    • La Fold

      SNP, Strathclyde Nationalist Party

      • Kate

        Oh sorry La Fold. I was debating with you on the assumption that you were somehow a reasonable, rational, informed person. My mistake.

        • La Fold

          Play the ball not the man flower. Mr Salmond was my MP for around 13 years, then my MSP for a good few years. I used to live about 6 miles from his wee house in Strichen and even got an 18th Birthdya card of him, so im sorry I know nothing about this obviously. Zoomer.

          • Kate

            Right. So Salmond with his strong links and community outreach in his constituency in the North East (as you have just described), is the leader of a party that favours Strathclyde. Right.

            • La Fold

              off the top of my head the closure of both Police Authority and Fire and rescue command centers in favour of ones down south?

              • Jambo25

                So Dundee is now in Strathclyde?

                • La Fold

                  Obviously not, it was throwaway comment to be fair but it does represent my point. The SNP are centralists and where do you think that’ll be centered round? Elgin?

                • nae a belger

                  It is possible to support Independence and disagree re Police centralisation (as I do massively)
                  I suspect that centralisation is a mistake in the first case, however it has been massively worsened by CC House, who has set about to establish Police Strathclyde with minor concessions to the North.
                  House wanted to move HQ from Tulliallan to Glasgow.
                  House has pushed for the Control rooms/telephone centres to come south.
                  He has the budget and as an operational matter it is his(and the SPA’s) responsibility.
                  I am not so sure of the ground re Scottish Fire Service so cannot comment.
                  I think the problem, in a wider sense, is how the SNP gains support in largely left wing Labour areas and keeps support in largely right wing (Tory) areas such as Aberdeenshire and Moray. If they are seen to be too Central Belt dominated then their heartlands disappear and Scotland becomes much more Tory/Liberal again.
                  If they are too Rural then they can’t gain traction in places like Govan

                • Jambo25

                  You seem to have lots of throw away comments: most of which seem to deserve being thrown away.

          • nae a belger

            Broch or Mintlaw?

    • Angus_MacLellan

      Massie doesn’t think Salmond’s a socialist.

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