Saturday’s Scotsman (25 May) contains even more valuable political news and comment than usual, but also shows the dangers of generalisations.
Alf Young (Perspective) casts doubt on the stress on “levers of power”, yet his account of the history of Alexander Dennis Ltd shows that its development has been shaped by just such levers – nationalisation of bus services by Labour and denationalisation by the Conservatives. He is right however, that the outcome is not always what is intended – but this is more so if someone else is wielding the lever.
It is also true that reaction to leverage is not automatic. We need men and women of vision to see opportunities to create successful Scottish companies, paying good wages and their fair share of taxes, to sustain progress.
Gerry Hassan (also Perspective) notes the inability of both Labour and SNP to promise major improvements in social justice. Note here your report that the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations finds that “partisan Yes and No campaigns are seen by the public as dishonest”.
The public, encouraged by the No campaign, keeps asking for facts, but facts only exist in the past. We do not know if the euro will survive; if there will be another war; who will win elections in the UK and abroad; whether there will be riots that derail austerity programmes in one country or another. Here, however, is a relevant fact. In terms of Scottish seats won in the 13 UK general elections since the Second World War, the Tories have drawn once (1951) and won once (1955, by one seat). One Tory win out of 13 contests, yet they formed eight UK governments.
If we choose independence, the two largest parties will both be committed to seeking social justice, while if we vote No we will get more of the burden pushed on to the poor, and the multinationals will have another field-day.
Gerry Hassan seemingly believes it is incumbent upon both the Yes and No campaigns to make economics central to the “independence debate” (Perspective, 25 May). A belief quite contrary to the recently argued case of Matt Qvortrup that “campaigners must appeal to the emotions” (Perspective, 22 May).
From the perspective of the Yes campaign, the appeal is to what political philosophers call a “thin ideology”. This is a belief in the idea of the nation that is a deep-rooted value, not merely an “economic blueprint”.
Interestingly though, the No campaign likewise must tap into “emotions and sentiments” supporting the status quo and against radical change. Arguably this means drawing from a deep well of “natural conservatism” based on fear of change and fear of the future.
Old Chapel Walk