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Tunes of Numpties: Scottish novelists on independence

31 July 2014

31 July 2014

There are many ways to commission fat-headed political analysis but, in my experience, by far the easiest is to ask a novelist his (or her) opinion on the great issues of the day. Better still, ask several. That way you can be sure you’ll get something even the student version of the Socialist Worker might think twice before publishing.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some of them quite close to home, in my view. Nevertheless (as Miss Spark so often said) the general rule applies: asking writers for their views on politics is no more useful or sensible than asking gravediggers or sheep shearers their opinion. It may be interesting; it is not likely to be valuable. Or, to put it more kindly, expertise in writing fiction does not necessarily translate into expertise in analysing politics. And why should it? They are different skills and there’s no reason to suppose novelists any less mental than the average zoomer chosen by lottery.

So I’m grateful to David Torrance for alerting me to this corking sampling of Scottish writers’ views on the whole independence stramash. Fairness demands one acknowledge that it’s not all barmy and not wholly self-indulgent or sentimental guff. Still, enough of it is for it to entertain.

Best of all is the contribution from Alan Warner which is not, I believe, meant to be read as a parody. According to Mr Warner, author of a number of good novels including Morvern Callar:

I fully support the yes campaign: a vote for increased democracy, a vote for the greater representation of a unique populace and a huge chance to break with the moribund, corrupt, militaristic lump that is Westminster today. The democratic dividends for Scotland have been kept well off the agenda by the big-business-led no campaign and its Nicodemite fellow travellers – a few of whom are writers. The no calculation is clear: what kind of future society we want in Scotland is NOT up for discussion; society has vanished and only cynical short-term “economics” and globalised agendas remain. The no “ideology” is numbingly small-minded, ahistorical and most of all, it is cowardly.

Good lord. Not just a difference of opinion then? Apparently not.

After the 1979 fiasco of the home rule referendum, many Scots like myself (I am half-English), felt cheated and disenfranchised. The vote was yes (by about 70,000); the infamous 40% rule was democratically questionable, as it converted abstainers and electoral roll anomalies into no votes. Then came Thatcher, Blair and the Cameronian; decades of rightwing monetarist rule from London.

There is some splendid question-begging here. Because Scots voted the ‘wrong’ way or, rather, failed to show sufficient enthusiasm for Mr Warner’s preferred outcome, the 1979 referendum was a fiasco. It’s no fair!

It might also be said that anyone who thinks there’s no difference at all between Thatcher, Blair and Cameron has forfeited the right to be taken seriously as a political analyst. If nothing else, their constitutional policies have proven rather different. But, hey, facts are tedious chiels.

What then are the implications for Scottish literature today? I am not self-important enough to believe it is part of many voters’ deliberations, but a yes vote would free us as Scottish writers from a hidden war that rages inside our minds; it would grant us the light wings of a new responsibility. A No vote will have sinister and depressing implications. Our literature has been and is still bound up with concepts of independence, cultural assertiveness, language and that quaint old term: freedom.

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If we are aware of a hidden war is it really a hidden war? I am glad, however, that a Yes vote would grant light wings since the possibility of those wings being too heavy is worrying. I do wish, however, that Mr Warner had provided more detail about the sinister and depressing implications of people disagreeing with Mr Warner.

Then again, I am not sure that Scottish literature is quite as bound-up with the things he thinks it is but, to the extent it is, it might be thought plausible that these are the very things that make Scottish literature interesting and even, perhaps, worthwhile.

Think on this: if there was a no vote, has there ever been another European country where a “progressive” – and to use two pompous words – “intelligentsia”, has united in a liberation movement, yet the majority has finally voted against the aspirations of this movement? A no vote will create a profound and strange schism between the voters of Scotland and its literature; a new convulsion. It will be the death knell for the whole Scottish literature “project” – a crushing denial of an identity that writers have been meticulously accumulating, trying to maintain and refine. With a no vote, a savage division will suddenly exist between the values of most of our writing – past and present – and the majority of our people.

Titter ye not, ye people for you see you are part of the problem. In one sense it is quite reasonable for writers to despise the public. The public, after all, are tiresomely unconcerned with writers. There is already a divide, even a schism, between the public and their writers for the very good reason that the vast majority of the public care very little for most of the work published by most writers. This kind of rejection is awkward and, from a writer’s perspective, depressing but there you have it. The people, damn them, are unworthy.

In any case, there is no such thing as a ‘Scottish literature project‘ and it takes some gall, even some measure of arrogance, to think there is, let alone that you and your work might be part of it as though you spoke, or write, for the nation. But what about the values of most of our writing you ask? What about them indeed. Are, say, Scott and Buchan to be cast into the wilderness? What about Barrie and Spark and Kennaway and so many others one could name?

 

If you wanted to make Scotland seem a small, shrivelled, place you might want to insist that there’s only one form of authentically Scottish literature and that any deviation from this orthodoxy will be dismissed or somehow deserves to be excised from the canon. There’s more to Scottish literature – at least you damn well hope so – than the back-slapping arrogance of the unco guid. 

Undaunted Mr Warner presses on, marching deeper into a jungle of madness.

Strong cultures endure, and if the vote is very close, some might find room for optimism. I won’t. Scotland will have become a mere global brand, its reality officially cancelled by its own people, and only approved by Westminster when sufficiently convenient, as a nuclear military base etc. Ultimately, Scotland will have voted Tory.

As satire, this is good stuff but, alas, I do not think it is meant as such. A No vote, you see, is a vote to eliminate or cancel Scotland. Ochone, ochone! (It goes without saying – except it must still be said – that being a Tory is obviously like being a rapist. Worse still, in this madness, we will have raped ourselves. Or something.)

I also confess to failing to understand how Scotland will have become a mere global brand and a reality officially cancelled. Since we are not, at present, an independent country does that mean we are nothing more than a global brand devoid of reality now? How does failing to change our constitutional status change who we are now? How, for that matter, can Westminster approve Scotland? God alone knows but I suppose it all makes some kind of sense deep inside a tin-foil lined bunker.

Ah well. Mr Warner concludes:

There is an 18th-century Scottish poem, by this guy, I can’t seem to quite recall; it’s all fading away. Something about “bought and sold … for … gold”? On our conscience it will rest.

This too is a grand and deep joke. It is just as well, then, that the Yes campaign does not pin its arguments on the proposition that voting for independence opens a path to greater – even near-unimaginably greater – prosperity.

Still, though it is easy and necessary to laugh at this nonsense there is still a sense in which Mr Warner’s ravings are valuable or at least instructive for they illuminate the ressentiment that lurks in the dark heart of one type of small-minded nationalist thinking. It is an emotion or sensibility as ugly as it is self-destructive and the kind of thing to leave one thinking that rather than dealing with the lawyers there is something to be said for shooting the writers first. Well, some of them anyway. (Not you Dad!)

There are many Scotlands and it is inconvenient they are not all alike. Some of us may feel this is the kind of thing that makes Scotland an interesting, if still all too self-obsessed, a kind of place. Always remember, however, that disagreement is dangerous and that voting the wrong way is worse than a mere moment of treachery.

With friends like these the independence movement has no need for enemies. So much so, in fact, that one wonders if Mr Warner is actually an undercover agent scribbling for Better Together.


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Show comments
  • Greenslime

    Has Mr Warner been residing in Colorado of late?

  • Iain Inkster

    What exists of the Scottish political establishment hasn’t a Jeffersonian bone in their bodies. It is a political establishment seeking to enshrine ephemeral dole concerns and sanctimonious speech laws into an unspecified phoned-in postmodern Euroid constitution, whose entire concept of liberty consists of poorly worked out human rights and the incumbent government’s inconsistent pandering to confused crusties… a corporatist state, perversely content to put up with citizenship differences within the same island, with tensions around a currency weirdly entangled with a seperate England-and-Wales, and an army fit to fight only Tonga. Notions of stability, jurisprudence, true liberty or the Anglo-American world are just positive noises to them. All this because the horrific prospect of being a mainly Anglo-Saxon subdivision of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom, older than the Italian, French and German republics clashes with some childish concept of counchtry. That’s why to vote no and not to entrust them with state-building, and reject the Ad Hoc Republic of Up The Road in 2014.

    • ayescotland

      Scots aren’t Anglo-Saxon.

      • Iain Inkster

        Anglic then.

        • ayescotland

          They are a mix of Picts, Celts, Norse, Britons and Angles. No Saxons.

          • terence patrick hewett

            Plenty of Saxon blood in Scotland before and after 1066.

            Let us construct a simple mathematical model:

            Given that everyone has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents et al: and if we assume for convenience that there is a re-generation every 20 years, then after 100 years we have 2 to the power 5 antecedents which equal 32 ancestors.

            Go back 200 years then we have 2 to the power 10 antecedents which equals 1024 ancestors. Go back 400 years and we have 2 to the power 20 antecedents which equals 1,048,586 antecedents. Go back 1000 years and we have 2 to the power 50 antecedents which equals 1.12 trillion antecedents.

            Everyone has this ancestry: it is a physical impossibility not to have: the implication is: since there have never been that many people born in these islands: that we are all related to each other; we all have common ancestors; apparently incest
            is best!

            To define where we “come” from 1000 years ago to within 15Km as some newspapers have claimed is utter tosh. Only that one of your many genetic markers can be traced to an area inhabited by a small number of your trillions of ancestors does: big deal.

            Finally: genetic markers tell us that we are all largely descended from those people left stranded on the islands which formed when the ice retreated some 10,000 years ago which links us ancestrally to all the peoples of Europe: so after 10,000 years; in Britain we all have 2 to the power 500 antecedents which equals which is 3 trillion-trillion: which is a very large figure indeed: in comparison there are estimated to be 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Going back further to our
            ancestral links with Europe we generate a figure so great as to change the implication into a certainty that we are all related. What price your ridiculous claims of ancestry now?

            And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

            The answer to that question is “Undoubtedly Yes”

  • NogbadTheBad

    Beg to differ – I thought Morvern Callar was rubbish.

  • Dorothy (Dot) Commie

    I’m a born and bred sassanach and look forward to Scottish independence. That way we’ll have all our sheep back perhaps? Lol

  • allymax bruce

    Alex Massie, I have to say, you are the most boring journo I’ve ever had the misfortune to read; I cry loudly to myself ‘Why?’ Why do I continue to read your meandering muses? Your self-introspective whining muses? I always end up feeling sorry for some extinct species; shown in tv adverts, as I glance repetitively, unconscious of lack of taxing value your article affords. Talk about losing the will to live reading your writing? It wouldn’t be so bad if you did your * researchyourself; but no, you have to tag someone else’s, and horn it on to your own piece of *. What I’m left wondering, is, did you write this crap when you were on the lavvie, Alex ?

    • HJ777

      And you’re the most boring commenter on his articles with your consistent ad hominen attacks.

    • Derick Tulloch

      Ah, Alex is sweet. Reminds me of an elderly and slightly smelly labrador, faithfully wagging his tail in the hope of scraps from a British table and ever grateful for a wee pat.

      • allymax bruce

        Hi Derick. I know, I’m just * with him.

  • weescamp

    Alex believes nobody else’s opinion is as valid as his.

    • Derick Tulloch

      Nothing so pompous as a Scotch Tory. It’s sort of sweet. Can we keep him?

  • HJ777

    “a yes vote would free us as Scottish writers from a hidden war that rages inside our minds”

    Does he think anyone cares about the “hidden war inside their minds”? After all, it’s hidden, so voters only have his word for it, even were they concerned in any way.

  • CraigStrachan

    More interesting is how dead writers would vote. You have to figure Scott would be a definite NO, Burns might be a YES, while Stevenson wouldn’t have a vote as he’d be living abroad.

    But what about Nigel Tranter…?

    • ayescotland

      According to Burns’ letters, he’s a definite YES.

  • DougDaniel

    “Nevertheless (as Miss Spark so often said) the general rule applies: asking writers for their views on politics is no more useful or sensible than asking gravediggers or sheep shearers their opinion.”

    So whose views are sensible or useful, Alex? Politicians? Political commentators? All those who exist within the political bubble and are thus prone to getting excited about the political minutiae that ordinary folks just don’t really give a crap about?

    The point of such an exercise is surely to get a different perspective from the one you’d normally get from those who make a living out of writing about politics. Writers may not be any more knowledgeable about the subject than those gravediggers and sheep-shearers, but then that’s kind of the point – their thoughts are more likely to resonate with us ordinary oiks. The difference between the writers and the gravediggers, however, is that writers tend to have a way with words, and are used to presenting ideas publicly in a nice, readable form.

    There is, of course, the added expectation that creative sorts are more likely to come up with more interesting ideas – hence why you also get similar articles from musicians, comedians, film-makers etc. Are their ideas likely to be “useful” or “sensible”? Perhaps not. But then you get the feeling “useful” and “sensible” here are merely euphemisms for “safe” and “non-revolutionary”, the kind of ideas that excite the populous but frighten the political establishment. If you’re trying to get people engaged in politics, it’s probably better not to bombard them with articles from SpAds, spin doctors and various other political bores, who are trained to try and keep politics to defined lines and areas, and are about as capable of thinking outside the box as the contents of the afore-mentioned gravedigger’s work.

  • GUBU

    I suspect that there is already a strange schism between the literature of Scotland’s ‘progressive’ – and to use two pompous words – ‘intelligentsia’ and the majority of its voters.

    Mr Warner might care to reflect that many of those voters would in turn find it profoundly depressing – sinister, even – that they should be expected to vote ‘Yes’ primarily to sustain the sense of intellectual self worth of him and his colleagues.

    • ayescotland

      Another personal attack. Mr Warner has ten thousands of readers, Janice Galloway is taught in schools; Alasdair Gray has millions of Scottish readers; the point Alan Warner makes is not about him. It’s about the culture of a nation. To reduce his point to some kind of vanity-project is small-mindedness. Why not engage his larger point? The cultural identity of a nation that is not a state.

      • GUBU

        Nothing personal at all. A fine novelist, as it happens. But as the representative of a type – what he himself terms the ‘progressive intelligentsia’ – Mr Warner makes the cultural identity you talk of sound presicely like a vanity project, the construct and therefore the property of a small band of intellectuals rather than a widely shared sense of people and place. The people, if they reject it, will indeed have proven themselves unworthy, nothing more than Tories (clearly the most contemptuous ephithet in the Warner lexicon). But then most ordinary folk lack the understanding of politics and society that persons of culture are endowed with, as you suggest elsewhere on this thread. How can they be expected to recognise the wonderful gifts they have been given, to know what’s truly good for them? Pearls before swine, eh?

        Of course, they have not yet appreciated that Scotland’s ‘reality’ will be ‘officially cancelled’ if they vote ‘No’ ? I’m pretty sure that’s not a line Mr Salmond will be taking up in the upcoming debate. For good reason.

        • ayescotland

          John Milton, a very fine English essayist apart from a poet of genius, made the point that democracy does not always reflect the noblest aspirations of the people. I think I can use the word ‘millions’ in this context, when I say millions of Scots have a Scottish identity, knowledge if some Scots history and literature, and would want to take the step of being a nation that takes responsibility for itself. Some don’t.

          • GUBU

            Milton may have written some fine poems, but when it came to politics he made the mistake of many an intellectual, in erroneously assuming that virtue can only (conveniently) be found in holding the exact same opinions they do.

            Mr Warner makes the same assumption in his Guardian column, and you are making the same assumption now, when you assert that anyone who votes ‘No’ cannot have any meaningful sense of a Scottish identity, and must be guided by questionable motives, or simply just too stupid to reach the enlightened conclusions vouchsafed to persons of culture like Mr Warner and,I assume, yourself.

            How is that a meaningful basis for substantive debate? When you tell people who disagree with you that they must as a consequence be stupid, or greedy, or fearful, you shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t change their minds. And when you do it in Mr Warner’s florid prose, you shouldn’t be surprised that they find you ridiculous to boot.

            • ayescotland

              Not quite my point. Milton

              • GUBU

                If you think Milton believed in democracy, you should read more Milton.

                The strange thing about democracy is that not everyone is obliged to agree with you, even if you think they ought to. That might make them wrong – in your eyes, at least – but it does not follow that because they disagree with you they must be stupid, or ignorant, or venal. Or Tory, for that matter.

                Mr Warner is clearly struggling to come to terms with that simple idea in his article. Are you?

                • ayescotland

                  Milton did believe in democracy, but became disillusioned and moved to an elective aristocracy.

                • GUBU

                  No, Milton became disillusioned with the judgment of the people when he discovered they wouldn’t necessarily do what he wanted.

                  Much like Mr Warner.

                • ayescotland

                  Yes, follow their once-held instincts for freedom!

                • GUBU

                  I hope you wiped the woad off your face before you went to bed last night.

                  It must be very exasperating when the lumpen mass of humanity won’t all do exactly what enlightened folk like yourself think they ought to.

                  Milton would surely have sympathized.

                • ayescotland

                  Yes, it can be frustrating, like when the mass of society embrace Nazism or support oppression. Even the great democrat, Andrew Jackson, said the people will make mistakes.

                • GUBU

                  I think Andrew Jackson would have made short shrift of you, my friend. Probably with a pistol at fifteen paces.

                  But never fear. When the ‘No’ camp wins in a few weeks time, you will at least find continued comfort in the certainy of your own innate virtue, and your clear superiority over the common run of folk around you.

                • ayescotland

                  Consistently misunderstanding what I write (along with a put down each time). I’m saying that democratic decisions can be made out of fear as much as they are made out of idealism. A NO vote, in my opinion, will be based on fear. The value of a decision based on fear is questionable. I will find no comfort in the fact that the community I identify with shuns responsibility and independence.

                • Michele Keighley

                  Perhaps a ‘No’ vote can be a democratic decision not to break with a union under which they believe they have prospered. That you obviously do not agree with that opinion does not negate their own belief, nor does it necessarily indicate fear.

                  Perhaps it was up to the SNP as the drivers of this independence and break up, to eliminate the fear of these people, with perhaps some certainties about currency, cross border pensions, costing of setting up a new independent state and other such matters which logically need addressing? Since you already know what you have got with the union, it is the nationalists that have to sell their idea, and if you manage to convince them you will have your independence.

                  Personally, as an Australian, I cannot comprehend why you should want to become foreigners in your small island – [and that is what true independence really means] however that is your choice, and once made there will be no way back.

      • leoinlisbon

        ‘Alasdair Gray has millions of Scottish readers.’

        How do you reach this conclusion ? It seems utterly improbable to me.

        • ayescotland

          His book is over 30 yrs old. Has been read by generations and has been on English course reading lists for decades. Added-up you’d make a million. Ok, maybe millions is optimistic, but if 2 million people have read Lanark over 35 years, I wouldn’t be surprised.

          • leoinlisbon

            You reach the figure of a million…ish on the basis of – nothing at all.
            The fact that it (Lanark, I assume) is over 30 years old does not guarantee a single person has read it. The fact that it is on reading lists is similar. Are you unaware that people, students especially, don’t read most of the books on their reading list ?
            It is one of these books lots of people have started reading, including me, and few have finished. Lots of people might stretch to a few tens of thousands.
            I will let you work out why so many people have given up on Lanark.

            • ayescotland

              I can’t work it out. I always finish books, even rubbish ones.

  • JimHHalpert

    Warner is channelling Brecht:

    After the uprising of the 17th of June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts.

    Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    ————————
    I wonder how many of these writers are even entitled to vote? It seems at least Welsh, Meek and Kennedy are not.

    • ayescotland

      Brecht was satirising totalitarianism under the guise of communism. Warner is making the point that Scotland is a nation and culture whose people may not institute it as a state.

      • JimHHalpert

        Brecht was satirising the elite’s view of the proletariat, whom they thought were undeserving of and incapable of appreciating such fine leadership – a completely valid comparison.

        In fact, when you talk of “a nation and culture whose people may not institute it as a state” you sound pretty Brechtian yourself. (And like Brecht, you don’t have the baws to put your name to what you write.)

        • ayescotland

          Name calling. Sad. Maybe I value my privacy so that people who call others names over the internet will leave me in peace. I’ve no desire to know your name, if that’s your real name.

          Again, you’re missing something. Warner is talking about a nation that is struggling to confirm whether it exists in identity, in law, in politics. Your comparison as about elitist dismissal of the people. Warner has the perfect right to question and judge the decisions of the people. He is not imposing on them something he thinks us right for them. Brecht is criticising tyranny: you’re comparing a democratic voice and decision to tyranny. How does that work?

          • JimHHalpert

            I didn’t call you any names, but I did say that you have certain characteristics (Brechtian-ness, cowardice), to which I will now add chippiness, condescension and hypocrisy.

            Brecht is not criticising tyranny – after all, he supported that form of government; he’s criticising the viewpoint of the tyrants.

            • ayescotland

              More personal attacks. Lacks class. Read your last sentence for an example of internal contradiction. Brecht was a socialist and was criticising authoritarianism; he didn’t support tyranny, or the East German state.

              • JimHHalpert

                Whatevs.

                Brecht chose to live and die in East Germany after the war. As Wikipedia will tell you, he wrote to the SED saying, “At this moment I must assure you of my allegiance to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.” That he had misgivings about them towards the end of his life is clear. It is equally clear that he supported that form of government.

                The poem I quoted doesn’t contend with the rights or wrongs of that form of government. It points up the cynical disregard which the elite had for the proles – most germane to Warner’s (and yours, it appears) view of the Scottish electorate.

                • ayescotland

                  He wrote to a tyranny saying he supported it. You can’t put any credence on that! Solzhenitsyn did the same, so did Bulgakov and many others for whom it was too dangerous not too. Remember, in the beginning, after Nazism, socialism did not seem a bad idea. He did not support tyranny, as his poem and other work makes clear.

                  Warner, nor I, disregard the people. But reserve the right to question the value if a NO vote.

                  Glad you’ve stopped name-calling. Cue…

                • JimHHalpert

                  Solzhenitsyn didn’t have a choice and was imprisoned for his writing before the end of the war. Brecht didn’t have to live in East Germany, yet he publicly supported and was celebrated by the regime until his dying day. His criticisms only came to light posthumously.

                  (Dude, you started it with your “There, I’ve explained it for you” crap.)

                • ayescotland

                  So, I did. Well, I apologise. Solzhenitsyn did have to support the USSR on his release, and did so, for awhile. It’s an unknowable fact whether Brecht would have been allowed to leave, but what we can say is that he did not support tyranny; he may have accepted it for the sake of his work like so many artists – often because it was dangerous not too, and, sometimes artists care more about their work than right and wrong – they can be selfish that way.

                • JimHHalpert

                  (Brecht spent some time post-war writing screenplays in Hollywood. His return to Berlin appears voluntary, though I don’t know enough about him to say whether his family were used as hostages, for example.)

                  If the Scots believe that there is a democratic deficit whose only remedy is independence (as I do with regard to the UK in the EU), then so be it. Fair do’s. But to say that if the Scots vote “no” then they are in some way unworthy, that they “had forfeited the confidence of the [intelligentsia],” is an insult to that very notion of democracy. It is indeed emotional blackmail not unlike the coercion used by the Eastern Bloc you cite above.

                  Anyway, good talking to you and I hope we’re still compatriots two years from now.

                • ayescotland

                  Yes, good to talk. With all due respect, from the bottom of my heart I hope we are not compatriots

                • Michele Keighley

                  So, I have been trying to follow this convoluted logic – so correct me if I still haven’t quite grasped it yet.

                  You are saying that Brecht who did write to offer his allegiance to the state didn’t actually mean it? I am honoured to be in the company of one so intimate with such a great writer, and on this one I will bow to the superior knowledge of the great man’s personal friend.

                  But you also state that if the people choose to exercise their democratic right to reject your vision of an independent Scotland they have lost their rights to call themselves Scots and have denied their heritage and culture and their opinion has no value? Should it then be ignored?

            • Jambo25

              Ahh! another Unionist who cannot take part in discussion without insulting people.

              • HJ777

                Please could you explain what constructive views or arguments you have contributed to this thread so far?

                • ayescotland

                  I think Jambo25 is pointing out the needless insults by people when someone makes a point.

                • HJ777

                  No, he was generating the needless insults.

                  That’s what he does.

                  He has made no other contribution whatsoever.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  By insulting them. Priceless.

                • Jambo25

                  Pointing out the fact that you contribute nothing other than personal abuse. You do so much of it it takes up a disproportionate amount of my time.

                • HJ777

                  Wrongly pointing it out – and hypocritically so.

                  Anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence can read my posts on this thread and see that I have asked perfectly reasonable and polite questions and explained, for example where this writer is wrong about monetarism.

                  You, on the other hand have merely hurled abuse and indulged in your customary hypocrisy. Not a single reasoned argument or reasonable question.

                  If you do not possess the ability to present a reasonable argument is it too much to ask that you keep quiet while those of us who are able to, do so?

                • Jambo25

                  Actually while we are in literary mode I suppose I should take this opportunity to apologise to you. The other day I compared you to that well known stereotype, “the nutter on the bus”. That was somewhat crude of me and a little unfair. In reality you are far more like a character from Edwardian literature. I think it was Saki, the chronicler of pre WW1 London clubland who came out with the line that “While I am the club liar, you are merely the club bore”. I actually don’t lie: at least not very much but, good heavens you do appear to be the club bore and pretty obsessively so as well.

              • The_greyhound

                Says the witless buffoon who has hysterics every time anyone makes a factual statement about the SNP.

                • Jambo25

                  Thank you, once again, for making my point for me.

        • Jambo25

          Brecht was attacking not the East German proletariat but the SED.

          • JimHHalpert

            Er, yes, I think we all agree on that. Thanks for the assist, though.

            • Jambo25

              Actually, that’s not what you were writing at all.

              • JimHHalpert

                The clue is in my use of words like “elite” and “tyrants”.

                • Jambo25

                  But he wasn’t satirising the elite’s view of the proletariat. He was attacking the dishonesty of the elite. Not quite the same.

  • HJ777

    Or perhaps Alan warner is just very good at parody – which is at its finest when the people being parodied don’t realise that they are being parodied (and instead agree with it, in all seriousness).

    • ayescotland

      No, it’s serious argument. Let’s see if you can do one without abuse.

      • HJ777

        I’m sorry, I thought that I just read that you said it was serious argument.

        You’re not stupid enough to believe that.

        • ayescotland

          Thank you. I’m not stupid as you state, but I do believe it. It is a very clear argument. I’ll ask again, can you respond to it without abuse?

          • HJ777

            It’s not an argument. It’s a rant full of ridiculous and hyperbolic assertions.

            For example: “A No vote will have sinister and depressing implications.” He doesn’t state why, or what they are, or the mechanisms involved. There is no argument presented.

            When people simply make assertions it does not constitute an argument.

            And he doesn’t know what he is talking about if he thinks we have had monetarist policies since Margaret Thatcher. He doesn’t say what is wrong with monetarist policies or what he would prefer instead or why. He presents no argument.

            • ayescotland

              It’s clear the point he makes. Scotland in the 1920s, 30s and again in the 70s, 80s, 90s to the present day has had writers and artists who are consciously trying to retrieve and renew Scottish culture and identity. Thanks to Walter Scott and many Victorians, writing using the words and attitudes if the Scottish people was seen as backward, parochial and inferior. Since the 20th century, Scots have slowly tried to re-conquer their heritage. A heritage damaged by England, yes, but more by Sc

              • ayescotland

                I take your point about his views on monetarism. It wasn’t the thrust if his argument.

                • HJ777

                  It wasn’t even an argument, whether correct or incorrect. It was just throwing in bogey words.

                  The rest of his piece is much the same.

                • ayescotland

                  No, there’s more to it than that, much more.

                • HJ777

                  Then you will be able to point me to a coherent argument somewhere in it, won’t you?

                • ayescotland

                  It’s a newspaper article, not an academic treatise: some of the assertion is based on shared experience for evidence. In most instances, fairly obvious shared experience. So, if Scotland votes ‘No’ then it will have voted to be part of a

                • HJ777

                  “His argument is that if Scotland votes ‘No’, then it does not have a living, breathing, meaningful culture or identity.”

                  Well if that really is his argument (assuming you have deciphered correctly), he’s obviously wrong, isn’t he? Just like he is wrong with his assertions about monetarism.

                • ayescotland

                  If Scotland votes NO, we’ll be the first nation

          • HJ777

            “…society has vanished and only cynical short-term “economics” and globalised agendas remain.”

            Can you explain what he is on about and where there this contains any coherent argument?

            • ayescotland

              We’ve been atomized as traditional communities have been put at the service of global capital. Companies and stock-holders want quarterly returns and to do this companies will remove employment from areas with no thought of the social cost. Govts

              • HJ777

                So you reckon he thinks that a seceded Scotland would vote for measures to cut itself off from the global economy.

                A bit like North Korea then.

                Of course, how it would do this using an internationally traded currency (Sterling) as the “Yes” campaign asserts it will, and how this is compatible with the health of Scotland’s large banking sector, or how this would be allowed under EU rules (and the “Yes” campaign insists, that Scotland would still be in the EU), he doesn’t explain.

                Perhaps he thinks that Scots will deliberately, and voluntarily, invest their money locally in areas where they receive lower (or no) returns to achieve social ‘good’, but he doesn’t seem to realise that people are perfectly free to do this already, should they wish to. If they don’t currently do it, it’s because they don’t want to – does he propose compulsion? And he forgets that Scots would be poorer as a result.

                • ayescotland

                  You don’t have to cut yourself off from the global community to have policies that reach beyond the next three months or provide some social good to communities and individuals

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Yes he most definitely is that stupid. His comment above re “money issuance” deserves its own place in the pantheon of stupidity.

      • Jambo25

        He cannot. I’ve taken to pointing this out whenever I come across it. The man seems to think he is free to insult all and sundry but be free from ever being picked up on it. Think of him as the nutter on the bus.

        • HJ777

          And you wade in throwing insults when we were discussing perfectly reasonably.

          Like you usually do, you hypocrite.

        • Wessex Man

          oh dear.

  • HJ777

    Is Alan Warner really a writer?

    If he is, why cannot he come up with something better than a steaming mass of resentment and blame culture embedded in word soup?

    What is even more amusing is that he clearly knows nothing of what he writes. he seems to think that Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron were/are all monetarists. Margaret Thatcher obviously was of this persuasion but monetarism (i.e. money supply targeting) was abandoned in favour of exchange rate targeting and then inflation targeting more than 25 years ago.

    • Wessex Man

      You know you are a brave man the way you take on the Cybernat Nutjobs almost daily.

      • ayescotland

        I’m not a Nutjob, but I predict that the abuse from you will continue.

        • Wessex Man

          Please confirm that you are inded a Cybernat nutjob.

          • ayescotland

            I liked this one.

    • ayescotland

      Don’t know what you’re talking about. They are all monetarists

      • HJ777

        No they are not. You are clearly unaware of what monetarism is and that is why you do not understand what I am talking about.

        It is a method of controlling inflation by targeting a money supply measure (or measures) and setting interest rates accordingly.

        We have not done that in the UK since before we instead set interest rates to target the exchange rate (which lead to the ERM debacle) and then after that (since Lamont was Chancellor) we have targeted a measure of inflation directly.

        Now if Alan Warner objects to any or all of these methods, then perhaps he could say what method he would prefer to be used in an independent Scotland. Not, of course, that the “Yes” campaign wants any independent control as it says it wants a currency union (in which it would have no say over whether it was subject to monetarism or, indeed, any other method of controlling inflation).

        • ayescotland

          Monetarism as outlined by Keynes and picked-up by Friedman, is the manipulation of the economy by the money supply. It can target inflation; it can target unemployment; it can be used to increase the stock market.

          • HJ777

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monetarism

            As I said, Monetarism involves targeting the money supply as a means to an end. We have not done this for over 25 years.

            If you care to look at various measure of the money supply, you will see that many of them increased rapidly during the last Labour government yet no action was taken. That is because the government/BoE wasn’t implementing monetarist policies and so didn’t target money supply measures.

            • ayescotland

              No, you said monetarism was about inflation – ‘a means to end’ is different. And correct. BoE didn’t have to target inflation because, as noted, we’re in the grip of deflation, despite a massive increase in the money supply under Labour.

              We agree on something! Hayek’s always overlooked theory about competing currencies is the most viable method of making free markets work, in my opinion.

              Alan Warner is a novelist, not an economist.

              • HJ777

                Read what I wrote again and read the definition on Wikipedia.

                All government try to control inflation. Monetarism is a method of doing so by targeting money supply.

                We don’t have deflation and we have had above target consumer price inflation often in the last 15 years. We have had strong asset price inflation for much of that time too – hence the rise in house prices. Monetarists could/would claim that monetarism would have helped control this better and would have limited the credit boom.

                • ayescotland

                  A monetarist is not someone who targets 2% inflation. Keynes invented monetarism, so it’s best to stick with his definition. Money’s volume and circulation velocity directly effects the real economy. To believe in high interest rates to limit credit is not being a Monetarist specifically, just a form of it.

                • HJ777

                  Where did anyone suggest that a monetarist is someone who targets 2% inflation?

                  Currently the BoE’s remit is to target 2% CPI inflation – this is not monetarism, it is direct inflation-targeting.

                • ayescotland

                  It was an example.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  But an irrelevant one.

                • ayescotland

                  Explain…

                • HJ777

                  An example of what?

                • ayescotland

                  An example of your belief that monetarists solely manipulate money supply for inflation targets alone.

                • HJ777
              • HJ777

                We don’f have deflation and the massive increase in the money supply happened under Labour – it isn’t happening now.

          • JimHHalpert

            Monetarists target money supply. No post-Thatcher government has done this. Warner is, however, correct that Scotland will never be monetarist for the simple reason that it has no money of its own.

            • HJ777

              If Salmond were to get his way (i.e. the monetary union he is promising) Scotland would have no say whatsoever about what monetary policies it had to accept.

              • ayescotland

                It has no say now. The difference is that we’d have input into the agreement.

            • ayescotland

              Money is issued by banks, not governments. All a Scottish govt has to do is accept money issued by banks as legal tender.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Oh dear I think you need to go back to school n that one lad.

                • ayescotland

                  What do you know different?

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  I simply cannot be bothered to expend time and effort on an idiot like you. Your comment above is so monumentally fatuous there is simply no point in explaining things to you. Perhaps you should ponder how Scotland would issue treasury bonds without a central bank because you will not get a currency union with the UK and it is therefore something you should consider. But please don’t waste my time with your ludicrous opinions.

                • ayescotland

                  The outrage of the ‘wannabe’. Scotland can issue bonds to the market

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Not without a central bank it can’t.

                • ayescotland

                  It’s not the central bank that issues government bonds. It’s the Treasury.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  You are beyond parody.

                • ayescotland

                  Thank you.

                • The_greyhound

                  Your imaginary independent state can issue what it pleases.

                  No one has to buy the its B-rated crap.

                • ayescotland

                  But they will, with over £2 trillion of assets and exports of £100 bn a year.

                • Wessex Man

                  would that be play school?

        • Jambo25

          I think he knows more about monetarism than you do.

          • HJ777

            Then you’d be wrong, as I have had to explain it to him and he has subsequently admitted that he takes my point about Warner and his lack of understanding of monetarism.

            Now, if I have it wrong, you’ll be able to explain in what way won’t you?

            Or do you not do constructive interjections, only insults and sniping?

            • Inverted Meniscus

              He only does insults and sniping.

              • HJ777

                So it would appear from his ‘contributions’ to this thread.

              • HJ777

                and hypocrisy.

              • ayescotland

                Beautiful irony.

            • ayescotland

              Me admitting that Warner is not an economist doesn’t invalidate his criticism, or change the fact that I believe you do not understand monetarism.

              • HJ777

                “Monetarism is an economic theory that focuses on the macroeconomic effects of the supply of money and central banking. Formulated by Milton Friedman, it argues that excessive expansion of the money supply is inherently inflationary, and that monetary authorities should focus solely on maintaining price stability.”

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monetarism

                I appear to be correct.

                You were arguing that Warner was right in claiming that the Blair/Brown governments and the Cameron government are monetarists. They simply were/are not.

                And if he believes they were/are, what does he think is wrong about their monetary policies and what does he propose instead?

                • ayescotland

                  Keynes formulated monetarism, not Friedman

                • HJ777

                  No, Keynesian and Monetarism are different. They have in common the role o the state and so are sometimes called parallel creeds but the same they are not.

                  I am not a fan of either by the way, but Monetarism is less damaging, in my opinion.

                • Wessex Man

                  give your braincell a rest.

                • ayescotland

                  It’s rested. I’m back!

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Careful. He’s got a friend ( probably imaginary) who is forex trader and that makes him an expert in his inion.

            • Jambo25

              ayescotland admitted nothing of the kind. I believe his questions of 2 days ago, which you signally failed to answer, illustrates that.

              • HJ777

                Except, of course, if you read this thread, he did exactly that, acknowledging explicitly that Warner doesn’t have a clue what monetarism is.

                And yes, I have answered reasonable questions. You, of course, just ignore reasonable questions you don’t like because you haven’t an argument.

                Now perhaps you can explain to me how Warner expects to pursue different monetary polices from Westminster when the “Yes’ campaign wants a currency union (which would mean that Scotland had exactly the same monetary policies regardless of indpendence). Let’s see if you can answer that one. I’m not holding my breath.

                • Jambo25

                  I wouldn’t take Warner as my guide to monetary policy any more than I would select Allan Massie as my guide to Scotland’s constitutional future but I wouldn’t attack their literary ability either. Incidentally, you haven’t answered ayescotland’s questions. We’re waiting.

                • HJ777

                  I note you didn’t answer my question. Did you miss it?

                  Is it not a reasonable question about the contradiction inherent between Warner’s complaint and the preferred currency option in the white paper? You will probably claim it is an ad hominem attack, whereas, of course, it is a perfectly reasonable question

                  I have not read any other work by Warner, but based on his incoherent rant in the Guardian, I am perfectly entitled to question his literary ability based on the evidence I saw. I am hardly alone in my opinion – after all, Massie said much the same.

                  ‘ayescotland’ has not said that I haven’t answered any of his questions. I have.

                • Jambo25

                  I’m waiting for your answers to ayescotland. I don’t have a dog in this fight except to point out how nasty a character you are.

                • HJ777

                  Despite your personal attacks, I will happily answer any questions if you will point out what questions I am supposed not to have answered.

                  You, of course, just ignore reasonable questions preferring instead to tell other people how nasty they are. Not the behaviour of a mature individual.

                • Jambo25

                  The couple that ayescotland asked you.

                • HJ777

                  So, to clarify, you can’t say what they supposedly were and you have no intention of answering any questions yourself.

                  Are you capable of engaging in any constructive discussion or are you just so resentful of the fact that I have consistently exposed your arguments as fallacious, that you resort to sniping and personal attacks?

                • Jambo25

                  Why don’t you bother reading them? They date from about 3 days ago.

                • HJ777

                  I note that you can’t specify what they supposedly are and neither can you answer any questions yourself.

                  Slippery fish.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          He uses the term because in left wing circles ‘monetarism’ is a term denoting a callous, cruel attitude towards hard working people who are oppressed by its harsh and heartless disciplines. Understanding how monetarism works is superfluous, indeed distasteful, to these people because its value is as a stick to beat politicians with. “You are a monetarist like Thatcher how could you possibly be so evil?”. Socialists have no interest in what monetarism actually is just as they care nothing for economic and commercial reality.

          • ayescotland

            ‘These people’ – more insults. Actually, monetarism is intellectually and economically coherent. It is neither heartless or cruel. It depends on how it is used. It can be corrupt or it can be liberating. You make assumptions to satisfy your own prejudices. Socialists, I’m not one, have been using it since the early days if the USSR.

            • Inverted Meniscus

              What in the wide world of sports are you talking about laddie? Utter gibberish.

              • ayescotland

                The industrializing soviet economy used monetarist policies, as did the industrializing Chinese one.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Give your braincell a rest.

                • ayescotland

                  More insults.

    • Jambo25

      Oh look whose back. Mr insult himself. Tell me, have you ever read any of Alan Warner’s novels? They’re actually rather good. I don’t like Alex Massie’s father’s politics but he’s a very good novelist and I would never dream of launching an ad hom on his writing ability. Still, its you.

      • ayescotland

        Great point.

        • Jambo25

          Sorry to take so long in replying. I’ve been through at Hampden and other venues quite a lot recently. Out little friend, HJ, cannot distinguish between talent and people whose views he doesn’t like. I’ve only read Warner’s first 3 novels but they seem fine pieces of work to me. Strangely enough, I prefer Alex Massie’s dad, Allan Massie, who I think is a cruelly under appreciated novelist. The fact that I’m totally out of sympathy with his political views doesn’t diminish his talent.

          • HJ777

            But I can distinguish between intelligent debaters and people who can’t present coherent arguments and who, instead indulge in throwing insults and rank hypocrisy.

            You are the latter, in case you weren’t aware.

            • Jambo25

              Says the man who cannot write anything, apparently, without launching into ad hominem attacks on people.

              • HJ777

                A completely false assertion on your part as anyone reading this tread can see.

                Your modus operandi is to accuse others of the unattractive traits that you yourself display in an effort to distract. That is why I call you a hypocrite.

                • Jambo25

                  I just leave people to read the poisonous dross you write. You are your own worst enemy.

                • HJ777

                  No you don’t – you come on to make personal attacks because you lack any arguments.

                  Aren’t you embarrassed by your behaviour? You should be.

      • HJ777

        Yes, Mr insult (as you now admit), you’re back, as you said.

        Your prefer insults because you don’t seem capable of constructing coherent arguments.

    • Fergus Pickering

      He’s a writer in the sense that he writes stuff. Not as god as Dennis Wheatley though, because nobody reads the stuff her writes

      • ayescotland

        He’s a writer in the sense that he writes good books.

  • anyfool

    There are many ways to commission fat-headed political analysis

    Reading this turgid nonsense, is a good way to start.

  • McClane

    I couldn’t be bothered to read through the entire Guardian article. Most contributions seemed to be as incomprehensible and as inaccessible as Alan Warner’s. But I note they quoted nothing from Ian Rankin, who must be the best-selling Scottish author right now.

  • smilingvulture

    Allan Massie

    Allan Johnstone Massie CBE is a Scottish journalist, columnist, sports writer and novelist. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

    The Scotsman 31//07/2014

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/allan-massie-brown-is-right-on-case-for-union-1-3439834

    • ayescotland

      This is his son.

      • smilingvulture

        precisely
        hes quoting brown,

  • ayescotland

    What absolute garbage! Mr Massie is guilty of self-satisfied drivel on many an occasion, however, in this instance, he surpasses himself! Alan Warner’s points are perfectly reasonable, cogent and a poster

    • monty61

      Clearly part of the ‘Scottish Literature Project’ is to decry the use of carriage returns. Or it intended to symbolise green ink?

      • McClane

        He’s a cybernat. They don’t do carriage returns. Just empties returns.

        • HJ777

          Nor coherent argument.

          • ayescotland

            Not a single point from any of you. Explain exactly where Alan Warner’s argument falls down?

            • HJ777

              What argument? He doesn’t present any argument.

              It’s just word soup, resentment and hyperbole.

    • Wessex Man

      Any fairminded person would see that Alan Warner’s comments are pure and absolute garbage, he’s probably a God the the Cybernat Nutjobs who populate these pages.

      • ayescotland

        In what way are they wrong?

        • Michele Keighley

          Surely to have a cogent rebuttal there has to be more than florid rhetoric to rebut? Arguments usually means a specific solution supported by factual evidence, I’ve read Alan Warner’s opinion three times now and I simply cannot find a argument TO rebut. I was always taught that in a debate rhetoric was fine for emotional appeals unsupported by evidence but should not be expected to win the debate in the face of evidenced based ideas.

    • The_greyhound

      “reductio ad absurdum” (note the correct spelling, you verbose ignoramus) can’t be used as a verb.

      now go and play with faeces, along with the other nationalist infants.

      • ayescotland

        Immature.

        • The_greyhound

          No. Deadly accurate.

    • GUBU

      It’s not a good idea to lambast someone for their lack of writing talent whilst offering outstandingly execrable prose of your own.

      You make Massie look like Montaigne.

      • ayescotland

        Why not? The best writing in that article is Warner’s. I found the whole thrust and style childish. I don’t have to be a great stylist to make that criticism. My comment took under 5 minutes. I hope that Massie would spend more time on his article than that.

        Again, personal criticism instead of argument.

        • GUBU

          Under 5 minutes? It certainly shows.

          • ayescotland

            Put downs, put downs, put downs…can you engage with the argument?

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