Nine reasons why my money’s on no more Scottish referendums …

… for a considerable time.

It’s simple.

  1. Getting a proposal through Holyrood would be impossible without the support of the Greens, who’ve made it clear they’ll only support one if there’s a popular demand, which there isn’t – see 9. below.
  2. Neither the UK government or parliament are likely to agree to another referendum given the binding Edinburgh Agreement in which both sides said they’d respect the once in a generation opportunity.
  3. In the highly unlikely event that they did agree it, the UK would most likely insist on some changes to the 2014 arrangement e.g. different wording/question; no EU citizens to have the vote, a threshold before any vote would be admissible etc. etc. None of these would play to the separatists’ hand.
  4. Without UK agreement to another referendum, the only chance of a democratic test of the appetite for separation would be an informal referendum which would be challenged every step of the way up to the supreme court.
  5. ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ None of the economic fundamentals that played such a big part in the defeat of separation in 2014 have improved, some have got worse, notably offshore oil and gas. Most people are not stupid and if they don’t know this now they would soon become aware of it in any referendum campaign.
  6. Scotland’s public finances would be stuffed. We are, in effect subsidised to the extent of £15 billion a year by the UK Treasury. The SNP have no plan to replace that sum or explain which taxes would have to be raised or public services cut to plug the hole.
  7. The EU membership the SNP so crave is not a foregone conclusion and would most likely be extremely challenging to achieve (check Spain/Catalonia, Belgium/Flanders …).
  8. EU membership would bring with it unpalatable commitments – on the Euro and the reduction of Scotland’s deficit. What currency would Scotland use until it got sucked into the Eurozone?
  9. Despite the SNP being in power at Holyrood since 2010 they have still not persuaded a majority of Scots to want separation. Indeed, the polls on Yes/No have shown a continuing trend away from Yes since 2014:


Source: rwbblog

Wiser heads in the SNP will understand all this, whatever they say in public, where they need to keep the pot of discontent simmering.

Less wise heads will understand none of it and will fall into the classic trap of confusing noise and flag waving with majority support for their minority opinion.

Footnote: I’d recommend And another thing to see the excellent Ian Smart’s creative and eminently sensible proposal for the UK government to stop another separation referendum in its tracks.

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Regardless of where they stand on the question of unity vs separation I defy anyone to say their position is the result solely of either sentiment on the one hand or cold hard calculation on the other. We all come to our viewpoint on some mix of the two.

Those who believe in separation (sorry, let me concede them ‘independence’) are very good at the sentiment that drives them. I don’t agree with much of it or where it leads but I recognise it. By the same token, those of us who believe we are better united with our fellow citizens in Britain are very good at the cool hard calculations about matters financial and economic.

If Scotland’s position in the world were to be decided on the strength of publically-expressed sentiment alone, the separatists would have it. If cold, hard and irrefutable calculation were the sole criterion there’s no doubt in my mind that the union would carry the day without dissent.

What those of us who want to be British as well as Scottish are less good at is articulating publically our sentiments, our positive feelings and emotions about why we want to stay united with England and Wales as well as Northern Ireland. I have written before about aspects of this subject and give links to examples at the end of this post.

This thought occurred to me recently in arguably trivial circumstances, as I watched a TV game show, albeit a refined one – BBC2’s Great Pottery Throw Down, a sort-of Great British Bake Off with clay. The format includes a slot where a professional potter sets the contestants a particular task.

This last week’s guest was Paul Cummins, one of the two artists (the other was Tom Piper) who created the exhibition of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the centenary of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, and who had the contestants each make a dozen clay roses.

I wasn’t able to visit the 888,246 (precisely) red ceramic flowers that flowed down from the Tower of London and gradually filled the moat reaching completion on 11 November 2014, Armistice Day. If the installation somehow passed you by, you can read about it on the Tower of London’s web site.

Should you be thinking (some sad people did) that this was some war-like celebration of imperialism, you couldn’t be further from the truth. The title of the installation should give a clue:

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

and the poppies represented the 888,246 British soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives in that terrible conflict.

Although I wasn’t able to get to the installation in London I was moved by the media coverage it received at the time. Its power was demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands of people who queued to visit it. Some of the poppies were subsequently displayed at venues around each part of Britain. I caught them last summer when they were at the Black Watch Museum in Perth. This is the photo I took of them:


The artists intended their piece should form a space for ‘personal reflection’ and I’m not ashamed to say I found even this reduced display of several thousand poppies immensely moving, as the flow of other visitors clearly did on that bright summer afternoon. There was a subdued and respectful demeanour in the grounds of the museum and the volunteer attendants (ex-Black Watch servicemen, friends of the museum) seemed more there to give help and comfort than to control and direct.

Both my grandfathers served in the army in what their generation thought was the ‘Great’ war to end all wars, one in a front-line infantry battalion, the other behind the trenches in France. Both survived, although their health was diminished by the experience: one died in his fifties, the other his sixties. In my wider family, my great-uncle, Frank Martin, was killed on the Western Front less than a month before the war ended. He was nineteen.

My family’s experience was mirrored, often magnified, by virtually every family in Britain. It was a desperate but shared experience from Cornwall to Shetland, Anglesey to Norfolk. Its memory is only a generation away: one of my grandfathers died when I was nearly four. I have a memory (perhaps implanted by parental re-telling of the story) of going for a walk with grandad in a country lane, him triumphantly hooking a mushroom through a fence with his walking stick.

All this, I grant you, is sentiment, not some cold hard calculation. But if nationalists are driven to feel sentimental about events that happened hundreds of years ago (not all do), I and millions of others like me must be allowed our feelings about events shared by our grandparents and great-grandparents. And if they were to reproach me with ‘But everything’s changed since then’ (it hasn’t), how much more have things changed since distant events in 1314 and 1707 beyond all memory. How many ancestors’ names do you know from the time of union, let alone a battle fought 700 years ago led by nobles on both sides who were as much Anglo-Norman as anything else?

Not all our shared experience and sentiment needs to be as profound as the sadness of war. The London Olympics turned out to be an unexpected affirmation of Britishness for many. Even the mundane act of visiting other parts of Britain (highlighted in one of the other posts listed below) reminds me that as peoples we have more in common than divides us.

I said above that many nationalists are better at expressing sentiments about what drives their beliefs than the rest, the majority, of us who want to remain British as well as Scottish. Maybe that’s because we have, by and large, what we want by way of constitutional arrangements. Maybe it’s because some of them are a bit louder anyhow and we’re a bit quieter. It may even be that some of us are intimidated to make a public display in an environment that we see as hostile.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t have those feelings. The challenge for those of us who believe in the union is to use those feelings to make as strong a case for staying together on the grounds of sentiment as we can and already do on the basis of cold, hard economic calculation.

Once they had completed their public display, the poppies were sold for charity. I wish I’d bought one. Moved by the display at the Tower of London, my sister-in-law and her husband did. They’re proud and patriotic Scots who happen to live in England and shake their heads at what is happening to their country.

Some other posts on this blog that try to deal positively with matters of sentiment as well as facts:

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The Scottish Six is dead: Mr John Nicolson MP disnae like it

11 a.m. same day: Hoist by my own petard as the BBC have just announced a new TV channel (well five hours a night) for Scotland and various other goodies for BBC Scotland. Completely unexpected and plenty of detail still to emerge (presumably not an online-only channel like BBC3?). It could be a smart move to sideline separatist moans, but I expect they’ll still manage plenty. I’m leaving my post below because it does at least demonstrate the mind-set of one strain of nationalism. And it does show – joyously – that John Nicolson was completely uninformed about the situation even two hours ago. Or to put it in the Scots the SNP are so keen to promote, the boy wus gubbed.

Apparently BBC Director Tony Hall is going to announce later today (I write at 9 a.m.) that after a few pilots the proposed BBC Scotland Scottish Six news programme will not proceed. When I heard this I tweeted all sensible people to look out for false nationalist outrage later.

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme, on the ball as ever, got in first this morning and had a discussion about the subject with John Nicolson SNP MP and Labour peer Baroness Young. Nicolson did baulk at Young’s reference to parochialism in Scottish news spawning an item about ‘the price of mince in Auchtermuchty’ (Nicolson: ‘That’s very patronising’). But by and large he maintained the honeyed tones he reserves for encounters with fellow hacks (he’s an ex-journo/news presenter).

For the next while you can find the discussion here, at 02:35:54.

My immediate response was to note that I spotted a couple of lies in Nicolson’s contribution and thought I’d better listen to the item again to make sure I hadn’t traduced the man (difficult, you might say, given his role in ousting fellow journalist and commentator Stephen Daisley from STV).

I was in luck. Nicolson’s first error was in his description of one of the formats BBC  Scotland had piloted for a Scottish Six:

… a curious hybrid whereby a BBC Scottish presenter would do the headlines then handover to an English presenter in London for the grown up news.

Spot it? ‘An English presenter in London.’ No, no John. They’re British presenters and if you listen carefully you’ll hear a variety of accents from all over Britain.

His second ‘error’ was more egregious. Asked what Hall would have done if the assumed decision is confirmed he said:

Well he’ll have shown a cloth ear for the debate in Scotland because we’re debating Brexit, being pulled out of the EU against our will, leading up to a second independence referendum.

I’d say Hall’s ear is more likely to be wrought of a finer cloth than Nicolson’s because all the objective research about ‘the debate in Scotland’ shows that the majority of Scots either don’t want or are indifferent to a Scottish Six. I documented this last August, when I also noted Nicolson’s likely role in the Commons media, culture and sports committee recommendation that there should be a Scottish Six (those honeyed tones again, I suspected).

That second error was also culpable in two other respects.

First, maybe some Scots, mainly nationalists, are discussing Brexit but why can’t that be done in the half-hour of Scottish news that follows the main UK bulletin at six? It’s the ideal place and if it’s not being used for what Nicolson sees as such an important issue maybe that’s where he should address his concerns. It’s instructive that he didn’t mention an example of an issue that couldn’t be dealt with in that slot.

Second, note the sly ‘leading up to a second independence referendum.’ This time it’s no, no, no John. There will not be a second referendum, at least for a generation (promises available if you want chapter and verse). The UK government won’t agree it. That’s the trouble with the flesh-pits of the metropolis. They take your eye off the day job of governing Scotland back up the road in Holyrood, not of course that that seems to worry his MSP colleagues.

Let’s end with two more of Nicolson’s infelicities that at the very least strike the wrong tone. He claims:

for the last few weeks people in BBC Scotland have been walking around with their heads in their hands saying it doesn’t look good. It looks as though they’re going to shaft us again because what you’ve got to remember is the journalists want to make this programme

Does this mean Nicolson maintains closer contact than he should with his ex-colleagues and really is in touch with their presumed unhappiness? Or does he exaggerate/invent for the sake of his case? Even if he doesn’t, whether journalists want to make a programme or not isn’t the point.

Finally, he manages:

Look at the running order this week and you’ll see that the BBC network six o’clock news repeatedly runs on [English stories].

I don’t know if this true. When I looked (link above) at the detailed running order of a randomly-chosen six o’clock bulletin I found a remarkable balance. If you listen to today’s discussion you’ll realise that by ‘runs on’ Nicolson means ‘leads with.’ He should really be looking at the content and shape of a whole bulletin, not just its first few minutes.

Of course, the real reason some nationalists wanted a Scottish Six is that it would have been yet another lever to try and wrench Scotland away from the UK. It’s just part of the overall goal of separation which looks about as likely in my lifetime now as a Scottish Six. Mr Nicolson may grieve, I won’t.

Oh, and do watch out for the false outrage later.

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Game on! – a Scottish gambler speaks

This was Alex Salmond a couple of weeks ago when a single poll detected a ‘surge’ (sic) for Scottish independence:


The surge incidentally was by three percentage points to 49%, commonly known in the arcane world of statistics as a minority. Psephologist John Curtice analysed what to him was clearly an unexpected result on the excellent What Scotland Thinks web site. His title? ‘On sampling error.’ Amongst other things he says:

A three-point difference between two polls that each contain around a thousand respondents is certainly too small for us to rule out the possibility that it has simply been generated by this chance variation … So, to date at least, there is insufficient evidence to draw the conclusion that the disagreement over Brexit between the UK and the Scottish governments has altered the balance of opinion on independence.

Subtleties like that don’t of course bother ‘Game on’ man. As they didn’t yesterday when it became apparent that one bookie (one) has offered better than evens odds that Scots might back separation in another hypothetical referendum. The Scottish Sun quoted Alex:


And he follows up with:

It’s more significant than any opinion poll.

Er, yes, even the one he was so gung ho about a few days ago. By the way, that’s a trained economist speaking, folks.

Mind you he is a betting man and is said to follow the gee gees. Once upon a time (I haven’t been able to check the dates – any offers?) he was paid – presumably – to offer racing tips in The Scotsman.

I’m not a betting man myself, unless you count a modest holding of premium bonds – always pleased to support the British nation – but I do know that in the long run  the punter never wins. You’d think Alex would know this. In the past he’s bet, there’s a good case for saying recklessly, on the following outcomes:

  • that there was a ‘Northern arc of prosperity’ that Scotland would join by some miraculous feat of transformation post-independence. His arc included that banking giant Iceland that the 2008 crash brought to its knees
  • that there was also a category of nation called the ‘Celtic tigers.’ It was a small and exclusive club led by the Republic of Ireland, another victim of the 2008 crash
  • that we had two world-beating banks in Scotland, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, both – again – brought low by the 2008 crash. The Royal Bank of course was crippled by the hubris of its chief executive Fred-the-shred Goodwin in taking over a rotten Dutch bank, ABN-AMRO, a hubris supported by Salmond who wrote an effusive letter to Goodwin supporting his ambition. You and I and the wicked British state still of course share ownership of an RBS that continues to haemorrhage losses nine years later
  • that Donald Trump should be supported in his ambition to build the ‘best’ (of course) golf course in the world on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and help transform the North East as a tourist destination
  • that, his biggest bet of all, Scotland would vote for separation in 2014, a bet based on a deeply-flawed prospectus for an independent Scotland ($100 dollar oil, anyone?)

In short, would you trust this man with your money, especially on odds of 8/11 (the William Hill offer reported in the Sun article) for something that might only happen by 2024?

I’ll stick with my boring old premium bonds, thanks.

saldef‘Game on man’ the night after his biggest gamble – 19 September 2014

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The politics of a Scots calendar

Just over a year ago I asked if the registered charity the Scots Language Centre (SLC) was getting a wee bit out of control. You can see my post about it here. The essence of it was that they had material on their web site that had too close an association with a political ideology. They removed it pretty quickly but I was interested in the people involved in the organisation. Sure enough, what I judged to be a disproportionate number were nationalists. Their director for example (admittedly, not wearing his work hat) had tweeted:


When I last dipped into their web site, in early December, I found them promoting this:


I looked today and it’s still there (of course, if they remove it that link won’t work).

Nothing wrong with a calendar of course, but check the name of the seller – it’s an outfit called Indy Prints. Their page advertising it for sale suggests other ‘Related items’ you might be interested in buying:


Scout around their site and you’ll find it’s commendably honest about its purpose:

Political art created in Scotland … Art prints and more celebrating Scottish culture, the politics of the left and the ongoing campaign for Scottish independence.

The clue of course was in the name ‘Indy’ Prints, which appears on the Scots Language Centre web site. I have no quibble with a business that makes its living out of this material. Indeed, take away the overt politics and I quite like some of the graphics.

What I do have a problem with is a charity that gets too close to those overt politics (see my previous post on the SLC). I complained to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Sadly they didn’t agree with me:

We have reviewed the information in your email and our assessment is that we are unable to take forward your complaint because we do not consider that by providing a link to a vendor’s website (to purchase goods consistent with their charitable activities) means that this charity are endorsing any particular political viewpoint (e-mail received 17 February 2017)

I don’t like the decision but it’s theirs to make.

But what if that link had been to, say, an outfit I’ll call Better Together Prints who happened also to have produced a calendar in Scots? On their web site they might say:

Political art created in Scotland … Art prints and more celebrating the place of Scottish culture in Britain, the politics of the centre and the ongoing campaign for a united Britain.

And when you click through you might see related items, perhaps a book entitled ‘Continued Days of a Better Britain,’ and a ‘Vote NO postcard set.’ Why not? Plenty of Scots who want to maintain the union speak Scots.

Do you think the Scots Language Centre would promote that, and if not, why not?

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Wreckage, brutality and parody – the writing of Gerry Hassan

… the wreckage of Brexit Britain with its brutal lack of compassion and humanity

– Gerry Hassan

I don’t know if you’ve read the work of nationalist commentator Gerry Hassan. He can be quite engaging, sometimes bang on the button but sometimes devastatingly wrong, both of which we shall see shortly. He’s a serious writer although prone to curious lapses of judgement. For example, as I was drafting this post I noticed he has a poll on Twitter inviting people to guess when the ‘next’ separation referendum will be, as if a Twitter poll that purports to be serious (I’m all for jokey ones) ever gave a result that did anything other than confirm its author’s point of view. You won’t be surprised to know I cast a vote in favour of ‘Never.’

Anyhow, he has an article in the latest edition of the online Scottish Review entitled The day Britain died. 8 February 2017. He doesn’t use the phrase ‘indyref2 trigger’  but it’s yet another example of a genre of nationalist fiction that began on 19 September 2014, the day after 45% on a turnout of 85%  (i.e. 38% of the total electorate) of Scotland voted ‘Yes’ to separation. The last two and a half years  are littered with events and non-events that were said to ‘inevitably’ trigger another referendum.

Last week on 8 February the Commons voted to approve the ‘Article 50’ process that will lead to the UK leaving the European Union. This according to Hassan, puts the final nail in the coffin of Great Britain.

His article’s worth a read if, for nothing else, his acute analysis of the failings of the SNP, not to mention a few other nationalist tendencies along the way. I do hope the SNP either don’t notice his critique (unlikely) or are incapable of learning its lessons (highly likely) as attending to them would solve some of their problems with the only question that matters to them.

This post doesn’t pretend to be a comprehensive review of Hassan’s article, merely a comment on a fatal flaw in his understanding – those words at the head of this post, his view of the ‘wreckage’ of ‘Brexit Britain’ and ‘its brutal lack of compassion.’ They’re the starkest expression of a perception that occurs elsewhere in his article – ‘the game is up for Britain … the carnage and mess that is emerging …’ and so on.

That sort of characterisation is not unusual amongst Scottish nationalists. Just as they paint a Scottish exceptionalism that is positive (‘Wha’s like us?’, ‘Jock Tamson’s bairns’ …) so they paint a negative British exceptionalism, as if Britain were uniquely bad amongst nations.

Since Hassan hangs his thoughts on the Brexit decision they’re worth countering with some facts from that referendum. Across the UK only 52% on a turnout of 75%  (i.e. 37% of the UK electorate) voted ‘Leave’ last year. In Scotland only 62% on a turnout of 67%  (i.e. 42% of the Scottish electorate) voted ‘Remain’ – minorities in both cases. Moreover, if the post-referendum poll funded by Lord Ashcroft is to be believed, 36% of SNP voters who voted in the referendum voted ‘Leave’ (if not clear, all these figures are explained and referenced in an earlier post on this blog).

Remember also that governments are ephemeral. The SNP at Holyrood and Conservatives at Westminster will inevitably be ousted at some future election. It’s the inherent nature of democracy.

I mention the statistics and the ephemeral nature of governments to try and bring home how temporary and partial Hassan’s view of ‘Brexit Britain’ is. Like many nationalists he seems incapable of seeing beyond a parody, in his case of ‘wreckage’ and a ‘brutal lack of compassion and humanity’

Britain is neither a government nor a referendum result. It’s the 66 million people who live in Scotland, England, Wales and (UK) Northern Ireland. They’re diverse and they’re wonderful and they share fundamental values and a similar way of life. Struggling against a constant barrage of nationalist negativity, we don’t remember or celebrate this often enough. I sometimes wonder how many of the more strident separatists have actually spent any significant time amongst our fellow British citizens. Or do they only venture forth looking for grievances and funny accents?

In case you’re minded to challenge me on my own view of Britain I refer you to a piece I wrote two years after the ‘once in a generation’ independence referendum – In praise of my country on a special anniversary.

Hassan does say something about referendums I agree with. If they are based on ‘a false prospectus’

the result is bitterness, acrimony, accusation and counter-accusation, and an inability to move on. We are stuck in a perpetual Groundhog Day … arguing about the issues which should have been decided in the referendum … From their fraudulent offers has flowed divisiveness and rage. That’s not a prospectus for a new nation.

He applies these words to Brexit. What other referendum do they remind you of?

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Arcs, tigers and the Faroe Islands – the nationalist ambition


The Faroe Islands (NASA image)

I was about to pen a profound piece on Scottish  ‘exceptionalism’ (I may yet – minus the profundity) when someone brought to my attention the fact that old friend of this blog Lesley Riddoch has just written an article in The Scotsman entitled Let Faroes [population 49,500 – my note] be our inspiration. Coming hot on the heels of Alex Salmond’s advocacy of Liechtenstein [population 36,900] as a future model for the relations of Scotland [population 5,348,000] with the UK [population 64,100,000] and the EU [population 743,100,000], this was too good to miss. As Ms Riddoch says, although not with the same intent as me,

It’s heady stuff.

Her article isn’t quite so heady. After praising one or two ex-Labour politicians who’ve been ambiguous about separation for a long time, she spends a good deal of her piece having a go at parties other than the SNP because they don’t support the SNP’s doomed eating-your-cake-and-having-it approach to stay in both the UK and the EU:

They would do well to learn more about the gutsiness of the tiny territory with which Ms Sturgeon seeks to compare Scotland. A trip there this summer was certainly the highlight of my year.

There follows a generous encomium of the Faroese, their way of life, governance, environment etc etc. I won’t plod through everything that is praise-worthy but just mention one or two points that will make you realise where Ms Riddoch is coming from and going to:

  • they have their own nightly TV news bulletin (Scottish Six alert)
  • their fleet of aircraft (three strong) can fly Edinburgh-Thorshavn (the capital) quicker than FlyBE does Edinburgh-Shetland (this blog records some of Lesley’s other travel issues – no Scottish books at that same Edinburgh airport, Transport for London might not accept Scottish banknotes)
  • their parliament raises its own taxes and doesn’t need the permission of Denmark to create new ones (said without any critical gaze at Holyrood’s tax-raising powers and how the SNP government uses/doesn’t use them).

I suspect she’s got a few facts wrong, like the Faroes’ ‘cheekily’ establishing a ‘diplomatic presence’ in a few foreign capitals. Perhaps not so ‘cheeky’ as ‘they do have political relations directly with other countries through agreement with Denmark’ (Wikipedia). In any event no cheekier than the SNP’s government overseas representation in Brussels and the USA.

She’s also missed a few points:

  • their economy is very narrow and based almost entirely on fishing (Economy of the Faroes)
  • although their unemployment is very low this is because so many young people move to Denmark and elsewhere after their education, leaving a largely middle-aged and elderly population (same source as preceding bullet point)
  • they indulge in what might be called recreational whaling, not to most people’s taste (numerous web references both for and against)
  • pehaps most telling in terms of the aspirations of Scottish separatists, they receive an annual subsidy from Denmark, in 2014 about $US73.240 million (figure calculated from the CIA World Fact Book – as with all the facts I cite in this blog, I’m happy to receive corrections).

The other issue Lesley’s article doesn’t address – why should she? – is the general issue of international comparisons. She’s a big fan of everything Scandinavian, which tickles the fancy of many SNP politicians too (see our first minister’s recent visit to the Arctic Circle assembly in Reykjavik). Once upon a time Alex Salmond fantasised about Scotland’s membership of an ‘arc of Northern prosperity.’ Then again, he waxed eloquently and convincingly about the ‘Celtic Tigers’ (pre-2008 Irish crash). Now, as touched upon in the introduction to this post, he advocates Liechtenstein as a model for Scotland’s relations with the UK and the EU.

Nationalists, and the SNP in particular, are engaged in a ceaseless search for international comparisons for places Scotland is, could or should be like. It’s as if that underneath all the bravado and chest-puffing, they’re secretly and fundamentally uncertain about what they really want to be.

I was amused that Lesley Riddoch wrote, towards the end of her article,

There is something inspiring about the unassuming ambition of the Faroese.

It’s some way from arcs and tigers but if it’s unassuming ambition you went to be inspired by, then why not? It’s probably what you’ll get with separation anyhow.

Meantime, the latest Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times has shown that only 27% of respondents in Scotland want another independence/separation referendum before Brexit. There’s an excellent analysis of the whole poll on the What Scotland Thinks website – Ms Sturgeon’s Brexit Difficulties. This is the sort of stuff the SNP should be paying attention to, not the faffing around of journalists and ex-first ministers with tiny places like the Faroe Islands and Liechtenstein.

Heady stuff or the dust of dreams?

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