Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Think Carefully

Much is made of the uncertainty factor which is said by the nay-sayers to be inextricably associated with voting Yes in the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday. Even Her Britannic Majesty is understood to be so concerned about an unamusing outcome that she is reported to have been advising her Scottish subjects to think carefully about what the Dickens they think they are up to.
So let us think carefully, as if we had not already been doing that for the past few years of constitutional debate while England slept, and let us be jolly British about it by examining a precedent, for this is not the first independence referendum concerning the question of whether a union of northern European countries should be dissolved, such a plebiscite having been held in 1905. One presumes that voters thought carefully about what they thought they were up to in that instance. Having thought carefully, how did they vote? And what consequences ensued?
Irreconcilable differences had led to unilateral Norwegian dissolution of the union with Sweden on June 7th 1905:
A cartoon published in Söndags-Nisse on February 12th 1905,
representing Norway as an angry cat and Sweden as a stolid dog
tied to one another by a bond which is in flames,
which Swedish Prime Minister Boström strives unsuccessfully to extinguish.
"The dispute between Norway and Sweden has reached a dramatic, if not a tragic, stage. By the resolution which the Storthing passed yesterday, the union of the two Kingdoms was dissolved, and King Oscar practically deposed. In spite of the assurances of loyalty to the House of Bernadotte, with which this step was taken, and the supplication or, at all events, the earnest request that King Oscar might transfer his regality to the youngest of the Royal Princes, it is impossible to disregard the fact that the Norwegian people are in the mood to proceed any length in support of their claim to complete independence. Nor is it easy to question their attitude or refute their arguments. With the menace of Bernadotte's army to compel their acquiescence, it is quite true that they entered into an involuntary union with Sweden. But they did so on the basis of the Constitution of May 17, 1814 [...]" (The Glasgow Herald, June 8th 1905)
Norway went on to confirm its decision by voting Yes in an independence referendum on August 13th. On the 'Yes' campaign post card below it says "Yes, we love this country", which is the title of the Norwegian national anthem.

Yes Norway

The plebiscite resulted in an overwhelming 99.95% in favour of independence against 0.05% opposed. The population of Scotland's northland neighbour thus asserted emphatically that to love one's country is to wish it to be free to truly be itself and that this requires sovereign independence, which provides a nation with the means to realize its potential, as the Norwegians are doing, and as the Scots will be able to do if they vote Yes on Thursday.
Following its independence from Sweden, Norway was transformed in the course of the twentieth century from a poor agricultural country into a model democracy possessing a vibrant economy, with an engaged if somewhat reluctant international presence.
It has topped the United Nations list for human development for several years. Unemployment, inequality and population growth are low among the country's 5,033,675 inhabitants (2012).
Norwegians enjoy long life expectancy, a high education level, high health expenditure, as well as high income and a high gross domestic product per capita. As in the rest of Scandinavia, the electoral supremacy of social democracy has been pronounced. The Norwegian state has been described as both corporatist and based on an ideology of welfare capitalism, where free-market activity is balanced against government intervention.
Norway is also famous for its highly beneficial oil fund:
"Everyone in Norway became a theoretical krone millionaire on Wednesday in a milestone for the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund that has ballooned thanks to high oil and gas prices.
Set up in 1990, the fund owns around 1 per cent of the world's stocks, as well as bonds and real estate from London to Boston, making the Nordic nation an exception when others are struggling under a mountain of debts.
A preliminary counter on the website of the central bank, which manages the fund, rose to 5.11 trillion kr ($828.66 billion), fractionally more than a million times Norway's most recent official population estimate of 5,096,300." (Reuter's, January 9th 2014)
Where is Scotland's oil fund? You may well ask. The answer is, of course, that the UK state has squandered all the income from our oil and gas, leaving us with nothing. This melancholy state of affairs can and will be rectified if Scotland votes Yes on Thursday.
Think carefully by all means. And then vote Yes.

A View from Quebec


Did you notice the excitement? There may be indifference, not to mention metropolitan disdain, in England so far as the indyref is concerned (and indeed so far as Scotland is concerned generally) . . . but not in Quebec, where, incidentally, the scaremongering and love-bombing tactics which are being deployed against Scotland are clearly only too familiar, there having been two independence referendums in la Belle Province to date (the more recent one in 1995, when the result was excruciatingly close, as the Scottish referendum result is expected to be).

Monday, 15 September 2014

IndyRef Weekly Review 13


Banks and Businesses
Project Fear
Sign Off

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Dear Compatriots


on the eve of the Catalan National Day,
which this year marks the tercentenary of the fall of Barcelona
and supports the right to vote in the proposed self-determination referendum on November 9th,
which the Spanish government continues to oppose.
"Dear compatriots,
This year we celebrate a National Day of Catalonia that is both special and different. It is special because it marks the three-hundred-year anniversary of the events of 1714, and different because it will be the last of our National Days to occur before the upcoming referendum on November 9th. [...]

there is still time to listen to the Catalan people's peaceful and democratic outcry. Silencing the voice of a people who want to talk is an error; to deny the right to vote to those who see the ballot box as the solution rather than the problem is a double error. The Catalan people do not wish to impose any decision; we want to be heard, we want to talk, we want to vote, and we want to find an arrangement that is good for everyone.

Catalans want to vote. We want to vote in order to become the masters of our own future and to be able to decide how to best respond to the needs of our fellow citizens. We are not moved by the desire to be better than others, but by the desire that we may become better ourselves. We aspire, as all rightly do, to a better future – a future in which we can live side by side in harmony with the other peoples of Spain and Europe. We aspire to be treated like the other nations of the world so that we have the power to make our own decisions about our economy, our welfare, our public services, our identity and the form of our relationships with other nations of the world. We aspire to strengthen our ancient ties with Europe, which as a political entity also continues to grow and evolve as it moves into the future. [...]"

To access the remainder of the Catalan Government's English-language version of the pre-Diada message click here.

Mas Tells Rajoy that There Is Still "Time to Listen"

UPDATE, September 11th

Catalan National Day 2014, Barcelona
"Now is the hour!" . . . for voting and for victory.
(Catalan TV3)
UPDATE, 21:45

Carme Forcadell of the pressure group Catalan National Assembly

Turning the tercentenary of defeat into the first year of liberty:

"Today we make a V sign to symbolize our determination to vote,
and on the 9th of November we shall make a V sign for victory,
because on the 9th of November we will vote and we will win!
[...] We will vote because we are citizens, not subjects.
On the 9th of November we shall decide, peacefully and freely, whether we want to remain in the Spanish state or become a free and sovereign state.
[...] on the 9th of November we shall vote for independence.
[...] The question of whether we vote and whether we win is exclusively in our own hands.
[...] We are a people. We are sovereign.
[...] We call on the parliament, government and president of Catalonia to bring out the ballot boxes.
[...] Long live free Catalonia!"

(from the TV3 live coverage)
In response to what seems to have been the biggest demonstration in favour of self-determination in the history of Europe, the Spanish prime minister, who has evidently been listening to that nice Mr Cameron wittering on about his achy breaky heart, mumbled something about an Andalucian heart being perfectly compatible with a Catalan one.

More seriously, Mr Rajoy says he has an array of measures ready for blocking the Catalan self-determination referendum as soon as it is authorized by the Catalan Parliament, but today's demonstration serves as a warning to the presidente del Gobierno that the president de la Generalitat can nevertheless confidently proceed with arrangements for the vote in the knowledge that he has the overwhelming support of the people of Catalonia behind him and that he and his administration will be protected by their unity and solidarity.

Will Mr Mas defy what he has referred to as "the architecture of legality", which "should not be used to frustrate the will of the people", or will he resort to calling a plebiscitary general election instead? He says he is firmly, very firmly resolved to go ahead with the referendum, but Mr Rajoy seems equally firmly resolved to prevent it.

On the one hand the Spanish prime minister claims to have the authority of the Spanish constitution behind him. On the other hand the President of the Generalitat apparently has most of the people of Catalonia behind him. State sovereignty versus popular sovereignty. Legality versus democracy. The state versus the citizen, although the Spanish government claims to be protecting the rights of its citizens in seeking to prevent what it represents as a usurpation of the collective sovereignty of the Spanish people as a whole.

Citizens are rightly expected to respect the rule of law, but a democracy which does not and apparently cannot find a way to resolve a major public controversy by democratic means would seem to be a contradiction in terms, which is the Catalan Government's point in a nutshell.

BUPA for No


Never mind about that nice Mr Cameron's achy breaky heart. We can all be heartbroken when we don't get our way. But Mr Cameron is getting his way, in England, with the English NHS, and means to get his privatizing way in Scotland too.
Vote Yes on September 18th to save the Scottish National Health Service and other public services which are under threat through the stranglehold of the funding mechanism on which the Scottish Government is required to depend so long as its finances are controlled by the privatizing UK state.
A vote against independence would see a financially weakened NHS Scotland. That is why the chairman of a certain well-known private health-care company wants you to vote No.
Say Yes to universal free health care and the principles on which the welfare state was founded, which the UK no longer values.

For more on the threat of privatization which will hang over NHS Scotland if there is a No victory in the independence referendum click here:

"Neil Bennet [...] has given stark warnings about irrevocable future privatization of the National Health Service (NHS) as a result of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This is an even more serious issue for Scotland, as people decide how to vote on its independence on Sept 18, 2014. The Scottish NHS would inevitably be drawn into TTIP and privatization, because the TTIP agreement is with the UK government in Westminster. There is no opt-out possible for the currently devolved Scottish NHS. [...]" (The Lancet, September 10th 2014)