Scotland: a light that will never go out


Friday, 12 September 2014

In one week the people of Scotland decide their constitutional future, but they have been discussing much more than that, they have been debating how to make Scotland a good society. People who want a much more equal, democratic and sustainable society, are divided. Is it better achieved within a United Kingdom, where we work together, or should Scotland seize the chance to break away from the Tories and the City of London and not just build their own good society but also be a beacon for rUK?

The implications of a Yes or No are profound. Compass has avoided telling anyone what to think and wont start now. It’s for the people of Scotland to decide, but the route to that decision is proving to be incredibly instructive for the kind of politics Compass is trying to practise and promote.

It is predicted that up to 80% of the nation will vote. That would be a million people who have never voted before! Over months and years the people of Scotland have been speaking and listening to each other, reading books, articles, and tweets whilst attending huge meetings. A big conversation is taking place. Politics has come alive because there is a real decision to be made. The people of Scotland, through the referendum vote, have been handed agency and they have taken it with relish. This is exhilarating.

Undoubtedly it has fuelled enthusiasm and passion on both sides. On the No side it’s provided a space to talk about solidarity, internationalism and class for the first time in a long time. Inevitably perhaps both campaigns have relied on fear; of perpetual Tory rule and the collapse of the NHS to the currency and European Union. The fear card has also been played by the banks who threaten to up sticks and walk if the people don’t vote in line with the interests of capital.

The really exciting developments have emerged outside of the official SNP Yes campaign: Common Weal, National Collective, Bella Caledonia, Radical Independence Campaign, Women for Independence and a myriad of cultural and civil society organisations with reach way beyond conventional politics.  Together they represent the politics of a more modern left – not a narrow nationalism. 

Despite being allied to the official Yes campaign, these groups have not attempted to manufacture meaning for the people. They never really tried to frame a debate or sell a message in the top down manner of the party led campaigns. Instead they went to the issues that people cared about: low wages, the attacks on social security, the growing and obvious inequality and helped people to talk together and make meaning out of their own situation. They provided the platforms so people could take power while much of No and the traditional elements of Yes have sought to keep power by telling people what to think. If politics is to mean anything in the future it needs to look more like these outliers. 

Of course it hasn’t all been good. Instances of intimidation and bullying by anyone in politics are to be utterly rejected. Openness, respect, tolerance and empathy are the means and ends of a good society.

If Scotland votes Yes then this must only be the start, not just of the transfer of all power and resources to Scotland but throughout Scotland and especially to the least powerful and privileged. All of us, across the UK, have an interest  in an independent Scotland being as much like Denmark as possible, so we get a better Scotland and a beacon of progressive light that shines on rUK.

If the people of Scotland vote No then the momentum towards devolution and democratic reform must be maintained and the energy, vitality and capacity built in Scotland must not go to waste. The responsibility for that lies with all of us. 

Whatever the outcome of the vote, two things really matter. The first is that the result is respected. Democracy and the will of the people are sacrosanct. Second, that people are given agency again so that they can determine their future. Despite denying space on the ballot paper for the option of devo-max, the state and the establishment were forced by one opinion poll and the movement behind it to concede power. This serves to remind us that nothing of any value is ever given away – it has to be struggled and fought for. It reminds us too of the adaptive nature of the state and the establishment to shift ground when they have to.

Next Thursday the people of Scotland will speak. They will decide on a constitutional proposition, but the people of Scotland on both sides and those yet to take a side have a bigger question in mind: ‘What sort of country do we want to live in?’ Many people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland want to ask the same question but a movement for change has not yet grown because the sense of agency has gone. This loss of hope and impotence is demonstrated through the millions that don’t vote and in growing support for UKIP. It’s been demonstrated by the failure of Wales to secure more devolution, despite cross party agreement. This democratic decline only continues to undermine the already frail legitimacy of the British State.

If it is to remain relevant that state must be reformed along with the party political system that supports it and the finance system that directs it. The electoral system, the use of referendum on key issues, a written constitution, devolution of power and resources to the powerless in communities, cities and regions, abolition of the Lords and the end to the attacks on trade unions, charities, civil society, civil liberties and the complacency, inertia and disregard for the weakest and inequality that creates despair must be swept away. For all this the least we need is a People’s Constitutional Convention that doesn’t just make demands the political class can ignore but builds a movement to deliver on them.

The people of Scotland, the best of Yes and No, are outriders for the rest of us. They are showing us how politics can be done when a proper invitation and opening is made. They are giving us hope and showing us the way.

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  1. Posted by Fernando Barreiro

    I don’t really understand why those “new left” groups, alternatives, searching for the good society, need scotish independence to achieve their goals. They can do it, perhaps even better, remaining in the UK. Not always “small is beautilful”, mainly if we are dealing with themes and issues that need “scale” or “critic mass”. What I refuse from the indepndence approach is the idea of breaking bonds and reinforcing the idea of “we” and “they”.

  2. Posted by Martin Yarnit

    Whatever the outcome, we’ve had the dizzying sensation of the political ground moving beneath us just because it looked as if the Union might fracture. Suddenly, federalism is being spoken of, and politicians are vying to establish themselves as the champions of equity and social justice. Now is the movement to launch a national convention to renew Britain’s government – not a moment to be lost. In a week’s time, if the no vote wins, the political terrain could harden as if nothing had happened.

  3. Posted by Martin Yarnit

    Whatever the outcome, we’ve had the dizzying sensation of the political ground moving beneath us just because it looked as if the Union might fracture. Suddenly, federalism is being spoken of, and politicians are vying to establish themselves as the champions of equity and social justice. Now is the right time to launch a national convention to renew Britain’s government – not a moment to be lost. In a week’s time, if the no vote wins, the political terrain could harden as if nothing had happened.

  4. Posted by Bill Givens

    In the article the comment: ‘Democracy and the will of the people are sacrosanct’. is a goal yet to be achieved and our alleged democracy and ‘Mother of all Parliaments’ is in urgent need of a makeover to make her a world-class benchmark where the people lead and the politicians follow. The views of Compass members on a democratic ‘blueprint’ proposed on web-site would be most appreciated.

  5. Posted by Amyan Macfadyen

    I have changed my mind from being against devolution to thinking that the current lassitude about voting and participation in government will only be overcome by transferring power to local communities as in France and other European countries

  6. Posted by Reg Coles-Watson

    I think Salmond should be charged with Treason for stirring up this ridiculous plan for Scotland to leave the UK. I will achieve nothing but bad if they leave the Union.

  7. Posted by Drou

    Scotland will not be just one example of a people who define themselves as being different. This dis-United Kingdom consists of several dozen “area types” or colloquial groups. The whole of the British Islands should follow Scotland’s example and sub-divide. We desperately need a new system of governance as the existing Westminster system is no longer fit for purpose. The Scots have no representation in Westminster and feel alienated. We need to create a system of self governing Cantons similar to the Swiss where each of us can express our own type of Nationalism within our own portion of these Islands.

  8. Posted by Kay

    I really wish you would stop talking about the Scottish People voting – its the residents of Scotland who are actually voting. There are a lot of Scots who do not live there who are not allowed to vote and lots of non Scots who are voting. If you want the opinion of the Scottish People then all of them (living within the UK at least) should have been allowed to vote

  9. Posted by Jon

    The Scottish vote may have a direct comparison with regional England but both Northern Ireland and Wales have other ‘issues’ that make devolution a more difficult problem.

    Ex First Minister and Welsh Secretary Ron Davies was quoted, today, as saying – “They don’t have, and I use the word advisedly, the burden of the Welsh language, which has in many ways perverted the course of politics in Wales because people have taken a view about the Welsh language,”.

    It could be argued that a referendum about the ‘Welsh’ Language could have a result favouring the vast majority of the People of Wales who do not speak Welsh.

    As things stand we would have an aristocracy of linguists holding the Assembly to ransom over everything as the vast majority of ‘influencial’ jobs are reserved for those who speak Welsh.

    As the ability to speak Welsh is regarded (in Law) as a skill the supremacy of a Middle Class Caste is regarded as legal.

    With Northern Ireland the ‘Religion Question’ causes even more problems.

    Perhaps home rule for Yorkshire would be an easier aim?

  10. Posted by Duncan Hothersall (@dhothersall)

    Whoever wrote this does not speak for me as a Compass member.

    The idea that empty suits like the Common Weal, promise-anything nonsense-mongers like Radical Independence, and rabble-rousing garbage merchants like Bella Caledonia represent the politics of a more modern left is simply dreadful, pandering rubbish. These are organisations in the business of exploiting the poor, not helping them. They are dishonest fantasists.

    This article also repeats the lie that Devo Max was not included on the ballot because of “the state and the establishment”. Just the way Alex Salmond tells it. For some inexplicable reason both versions of the story miss out the rather salient fact that there was a public consultation on whether there should be a second question, and the Scottish public overwhelmingly said there should not. In addition, both the Scottish and UK Governments – the parties to the Edinburgh Agreement – wanted a single question. This idea that “the establishment” imposed this is frankly dishonest.

    This seems to me to be nothing more than a veiled piece of partisan Yes endorsement. Whoever wrote it had no right to do so in my name as a Compass member.

    A Yes vote says we in Scotland walk away from the problems we desperately need to fix across the UK. We walk away from electoral reform. We walk away from children in poverty. We walk away from disarmament. We draw a line at Berwick and say “sod you” to everyone south of it. As a campaign for a good society, the idea that we could countenance walking away from these problems is abhorrent.

  11. Posted by Chris Wynne

    I agree with previous comments that it is for the Scottish people to decide and further, I believe it is totally wrong for all parties to gang up and try to intimidate the Scottish people by frightening them in to voting no because they all want the status quo to me maintained.
    Now is the time, no matter what the outcome of the referendum, to bring to end this continuing battle between the have’s and have not’s !
    Let us use this newly emerging ground up movement to end this for once and all… lets get rid of the food banks, the inequalities, and bring together a more fairer outcome for all… not just the ‘Few’

    Don’t let this golden opportunity be lost forever the time is right.

  12. Posted by TJ Magee

    In the event of a Yes vote, Scotland would be required to arrange its own Armed Forces. What is the plan for the Scottish Navy, Scottish Army and Scottish Air Force? Are the bases, barracks and personnel to be commandeered? Perhaps there is an assumption that the status quo will be permitted to continue?

  13. Posted by Eileen Noakes

    Will Hutton’s splendid article in” The Observer made the only sound suggestion for the future of Britain that anyone has made – a Federal United Kingdom. When our politicians went charging up to Scotland to persuade the Scottish people to vote to stay in Britain, not one of them mentioned it. Too late, the suggestion was taken up by, of all people, Nigel Farage, followed by Nick Clegg. Surely this is something you ought to be advocating?

  14. Posted by George Knights

    If Scotland decides to opt for independance then there will implications for the whole of the U.K. and possibly the E.U.. Grow a pair and state a point of view.

  15. Posted by George

    Why is Compass sitting on the fence in the Yes/No debate? Compass does not normally sit on the fence on anything. What has happened to the commitment to the principle of solidarity? I live in Lewisham and I fear for what will happen to Lewisham’s old, Lewisham’s poor and Lewisham’s NHS if the people of Scotland walk away from rUK and make a more right wing Government likely. Let’s stick together to fight for a better world. Unions – political or industrial -are stronger together.

  16. Posted by David Purdy

    From the standpoint of the UK as a whole, the best outcome of next Thursday’s referendum here in Scotland would be a narrow win for the No camp: say, 52-48, in line with some of the most recent opinion polls. A near-death experience for the 307-year-old Union would create strong pressure to continue the process of constitutional reform that the referendum has started. But proponents of reform must reach out beyond the centre-left and should think twice before calling for a “people’s constitutional convention”. Rather, what’s needed is an all-party, UK-wide convention, preferably under the joint auspices of the speakers or presiding officers of the four parliaments or assemblies in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The piecemeal devolution of powers and responsibilities from Westminster has thrown up a series of anomalies, grievances and problems, which the further loosening of the Union can only intensify. The best-known example is the West Lothian question. If the Scottish parliament gains more powers, as promised by the three pro-Union parties, it will be hard to resist demands to exclude MPs representing constituencies outside England from voting on “English-only” questions. This would not only create two classes of Westminster MP, but could also, depending on the parliamentary arithmetic, give rise to two Westminster governments, one presiding over domestic “English” questions, the other over the affairs of the UK.

    The most comprehensive solution to this problem would be a new constitutional settlement, incorporating an English parliament, a federal state and written constitution. To countervail the north-south divide that cuts across the border between England and Wales on the one hand, and Scotland on the other, England’s parliament should have its seat in the North of England – in Manchester or York, for example. Meanwhile, the House of Lords should be replaced by a wholly elected federal parliament representing the UK’s nations and regions, perhaps using the same constituencies as those already used for elections to the European Parliament. It’s not necessary – and may be diversionary – to press for a symmetrical system of regional self-government, though the devolution of powers to “city-regions”, as proposed by Michael Heseltine and supported by the Labour Party, is important for promoting a geographically balanced pattern of economic development.The important thing is to get a parliament for England with the same extensive fiscal, legislative and regulatory powers as Scotland’s parliament.

    With its seat in London, the UK Senate, as it might be called, would deal with defence and foreign affairs, macroeconomic policy, financial regulation and some aspects of social security such as retirement pensions. The precise distribution of powers between national and federal level is a matter for debate. Finally, a written constitution should specify the rights and duties of citizens and codify the respective powers and responsibilities of the three levels of government: federal, national and local.

    There are, as always, problems with this tidy scheme, chiefly arising from the same process of uneven development that has unsettled the traditional, centralised Westminster model. Since devolution has progressed much further in Scotland than in Wales or Northern Ireland, it would be impossible, at least initially, to arrive at a uniform division of powers and responsibilities between the four national parliaments and the UK Senate. It may, therefore, be necessary to work out interim arrangements for Wales and Northern Ireland, with a view to moving towards a symmetrical system in the long run.

    One last point: it is understandable that anyone who wants to create a better society will be keen to mix debate about constitutional arrangements with debate about substantive policy questions. However, to judge from Scotland’s experience, there is much to be said for keeping them separate. The Yes camp in particular has based its arguments for independence on totally unsubstantiated and deeply implausible claims about the impact of “independence” (what’s actually being proposed by the SNP is best described as “independence-lite”) on Scotland’s overall economic performance. Perhaps one day an independent Scotland will come to look more like contemporary Sweden or Norway (though we should bear in mind that the famous Nordic model is not what it was). Even so, any such long-run gains have to be set against the undoubted costs and risks of separating from a long-established political union. And if the voyage towards a better future is going to be rough, it hardly serves the cause of democracy to pretend otherwise. True believers may seek the prize without counting the cost, but self-governing citizens need to attend to both, weighing one against the other, in full awareness that we cannot know what the future will bring, and that the fog of uncertainty that envelops all but the most immediate consequences of our actions grows denser, the further into the future we peer.

  17. Posted by Libby Smith

    Yes, it would be great having a People’s Constitutional Convention, but let’s not limit it to England. We would all gain more from each other, and develop more power for ourselves, if The People’s Constitutional Convention included the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

  18. Posted by Paul Scivier

    Totally agree it is for the people to decide. In England too, the people should be allowed to decide their future. The status quo or a country where power is devolved. I support the idea of a federal u.k. With power devolved to City Regions, and Municipalities. The use of Referenda as in Switzerland and many U.S. States. Capital made to work for the people instead of controlling us , Natural monopolies in public not private hands. In short a radical transformation with a written constitution of basic rights. Which would enshrine The right to combine and organise in the workplace, the right to free health care, social care and freedom from want. Somehow we need to unscramble the stranglehold vested power has over ordinary people and Parliament must really be of the people by the people and for the people and not ,for the political elite who run the show

  19. Posted by Ron Kerr

    I was leaning towards a “Yes” vote because of my opposition to the neo-liberal consensus in Westminster. Two things finally made up my mind for me. 1) the silence of Labour on the trans Atlantic trade agreement currently being pushed through the European parliament with a great deal of secrecy. This will allow multi-nationals to oppose Governments’ measures eg. public health and/or a minimum wage increase, with disputes being settled by a tribunal composed of corporate lawyers. 2) the dispute between “Care UK” and care workers in Doncaster where the employer of the newly privatised service reduced staff pay by 25%. Alan Millburn from the “millionaires’ section” of Labour is employed by the private equity company which owns “Care UK”. Again, the craven Mr Miliband is silent! I am hoping situations like these will be better dealt with in a self governing Scotland.

  20. Posted by Bill Banning

    If, as the polls indicate there is a close result and either side wins with only a tiny majority the Scottish people will be split down the middle. That being so, if irrevocable changes of such vital impolrtance are carried through in such a divided nation, unless both sides can unite around the concessions offered, chaos and internal strife are inevitable.

  21. Posted by Murray Rowlands

    Cast your mind back to the last Salmon/ Darling debate. When the issue of allowing the Trogan Horse of the private sector into the running of the NHS Darling seemed like a man caught in the beam of strong headlights.. If the vote is yes and a post mortem takes place Milburn, Hewitt and Mr Tony should be in the dock..

  22. Posted by peter humber

    Spot on article – regardless of the result – UK politics will never be the same – exposes the London centre political elite – hopefully there will be a federal/confederal solution which will re-energise political involvement – democracy is not a spectator sport!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Posted by Bert Ward

    You say you are not going to tell the people of Scotland what to do. Nobody is asking you to. What is expected of an organisation such as Compass is an opinion.You say “Democracy and the will of the people are sacrosanct”.At present polling shows opinion evenly divided – 52% No 48% Yes. If the result is 51% and 49% either way and voter turnout 80% how will such a result reflect the “will of the people”. I find your statement very disappointing. If we had been four separate countries in 1939 instead of the UK Germany would have crushed us. We are stronger and better together. United we stand divided we fall. remember that?

  24. Posted by Simon Norton

    Let me start by saying that it would have been interesting to know what part of the UK the various people who have posted on this discussion come from — in particular whether they come from Scotland. Myself, I am based in Cambridge and London.

    We need to break away from the idea that a single level of government can decide the most important questions effectively. The SNP want all questions about Scottish issues to be decided by Scotland; the coalition want questions about the (spending) powers of local government to be decided by Westminster. Both are wrong.

    However, in most cases the appropriate level for deciding about something is independent of geography. So devolution for Scotland, also Wales and Northern Ireland, should be accompanied by devolution for the English regions, some of which have comparable populations and/or areas. The idea of an English parliament is anathema — especially if it has the power of decision on macroeconomic issues, as its decisions will have vital impact on the rest of (what is now) the UK.

    Transport is probably the best example of how the present system isn’t working. By its very nature it transcends localities and we need to take extra care to ensure that decision making isn’t fragmented. With respect to buses, except in London we have fragmentation between operators, fragmentation between local authorities, and fragmentation between commercial and supported networks. In London, bus usage has been continually rising, and has clearly facilitated economic activity. The rest of England, Scotland and Wales needs to follow suit. (I know little about the situation in Northern Ireland.) As for rail, network development has mainly happened in areas with devolved transport powers (London, Wales and Scotland).

    But local devolution, either within areas large enough to have effective resources and to minimise cross boundary fragmentation, needs to be accompanied by centrally set incentives which recognise the public interest in establishing a comprehensive network under which people without access to cars can live well.

    The UK is already in danger of a lurch to the right where people who like the coalition vote Tory and those who don’t vote UKIP. A yes vote will accelerate this, especially if it stimulates a desire for independence among the Welsh (which I’m sure it will if the Tories retain power in the 2015 election). Under such a system Scotland will remain dominated by Westminster in many ways even if it’s nominally independent, and if their breakaway perpetuates rightwing dominance many Scots, too, will regret it.

    One last point. Ron Kerr is right to mention the dangers of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership currently being negotiated by the EU — but I am not so clear has to how Scottish independence would stop this.

  25. Posted by Stephen Barber

    We need a constitutional convention to set up a proper federal structure for the UK. Perhaps as part of this we can have another look at proportional representation and ask for STV.

  26. Posted by Peter Wood Cotterill

    Whichever way the Scottish referendum goes the opportunity should be taken to seek the division of England in to 5 or 6 regional cantons to form the foundation of a federal Britain which Wales, Scotland & NI should be invited to join. The Palace of Westminster shouild become a museum and the Federal capital should be in say Salford – a unicameral federal congress, say 150 representatives elected by proportional representation, should rotate its location six-monthly between centres in the English regions and Wales Scotland & NI. Federal Minister/Secretaries of State should be elected on a basis similar to the US. If Scotland votes ‘yes’ in the referendum it should be invited to join the Federation of Britain & NI (let’s drop the ‘Great’).

  27. Posted by Stuart Martin

    I sincerely hope that the Scottish people will show belief in their nation by voting “yes” for independence, rather than voting “no” through fear.

    Scotland has consistently voted left but have had to suffer right wing government from Westminster. Their views are shared rhroughout the regions.

    We need a “federal” system where Regional Governments have control over their affairs under the “umbrella” of a National Government. This reform could finally rid us of the House of Lords.

  28. Posted by Allan MacKenzie

    I am voting yes. I have voted Lib Dem all my life because in the past, Charles Kennedy was a good MP. I now reckon he is shot! Long overnight hours in parliament, huge distances to travel to his constituency, a free bar, and loss of belief in what he is doing are reflected in an appalling attendance and speaking record in Westminster. Libdems were unable to secure a change to the unsatisfatory first past the post voting system. Libdems were then unable to secure modernisation of the House of Lords. They were unable to halt the privatisation of the Post Office for example and furthermore presided over the national scandal of selling it off cheaply (to the advisers that guided them??) and so it goes on. The ‘Mother of Parliaments’ of which I was so proud is now the Grandmother of Parliaments, unable and unwilling to change. The best/only way to make the British Establishment sit up and take notice is for Scotland to leave the UK. Scotland will be able to experiment with new and hopefully better ways of governance and hopefully will force rUK to compete at every level of society. With a lot of luck this prospective change can help us all move forward to a better world. Time after time the ‘establishment’ has been unwilling to change, I have watched climate change disappear as a topic at Westminster. Until very recently The Sec of State for the Environment was a climate change denier! Unbelievable! Scotland has the highest targets in the world for reduction of CO2 gases. We already produce in the region of 40% of our electricity from renewable sources. The UK is going backwards. rUK is likely to come out of the EU. Sorry, I will stop there. There is a democratic deficit which will not be met or addressed if Scotland remains part of the UK. If we don’t vote to run our own affairs we may well be the first country in the world to allow ourselves voluntarily, to be run by another nation with its capital 500 miles to the south. That is not anti-English rhetoric it is a simple statement of fact. If we don’t become independent then we hand over control of our society to others. You outnumber us and our representatives 10:1 If we vote ‘No’ we will just have to hope that the good people of Kent.Surrey and Essex etc. will elect people who have the interests of Scotland at heart???

  29. Posted by Chris Jones

    Surely, the most significant development in the last week is that companies have assumed a PERSONALITY, entitled to advise the electorate just like a political party. Now leverage that I find very worrying.

  30. Posted by Scott Bevan

    When people talk about ‘we’ I do not think in terms of nations and this is largely an identity issue. I feel like I’ve been discussing this for a thousand years but the truth is that nothing real will change and I have no interest in voting for separation just because a few of the more egalitarian parties think it will magically give them seats in Holyrood,(which is just wishful thinking on their part anyway). I want change. This is NOT the kind of change I’m talking about. I hold no candle to the Braveheart argument. Scotland is not colonised or oppressed by anything other than our current capitalism. The people of England,Northern Ireland and Wales have the same problems. We all do and this will solve nothing and will be pointlessy messy. It’s about national identity. That’s all.

  31. Posted by vickymoller

    this is what independence could make the norm.
    Small nations self governing, avoiding the iron claw of corporate domination. It is not a given that this would happen with independence but it can barely happen without it. Controlling resources is key to a future for all we hold dear, including the planet

  32. Posted by vickymoller

    Debate throughout the nation, involvement in its future – this is what independence could make the norm. Without it, it will wither away.
    Small nations self governing, avoiding the iron claw of corporate domination. It is not a given that this would happen with independence but it can barely happen without it. Controlling resources is key to a future for all we hold dear, including the planet
    Far from this being an act of separation from peoples in neighbouring nations or regions, it’s the first to leap for land. It is an inspiration and will empower us the neighbours to reclaim our future. It will be hard, especially as those seeking total control will react with fury. But it will seed hope, without which nothing can be achieved, with it anything is possible.

  33. Posted by tom schuller

    I agree very much with David Purdy’s comment below: the best result would be a No result followed by serious efforts to reform the system in a fundamental and coherent way. So far the responses from the UK political leaders have all looked like desperate reactions to an unpredicted close result. It’s too late for any major statements before the referendum, but Compass is in a very good position to lead a debate on what should happen afterwards. This is a unique opportunity to convert the energies generated by the Scottish referendum – frustratingly inaccessible to those of us who do not live there – into a broader commitment to reform.

  34. Posted by Nina Lambert

    I think the whole country should vote Yes online, and then we could change our name to Ultima or something and agree a constitution at last.

  35. Posted by Derek Tatton

    This is a very good statement. It is important to emphasise the process – participative discussion involving as many as possible on all the big issues. An important new dimension has been the use of social media and on-line discussions such as this. If the process can be maintained in Scotland and extended to other regions of the UK whatever the result next week then the potential for substantial
    reform will be positive.

  36. Posted by Steve Williams

    If we were on the route to proper political union and real Europeanwide democracy in the EU (and, unfortunately that is not currently a popular cause!), then he independence of Scotland would hardly matter in the long term, as a separate nation state would merely serve to reflect the rich diversity of Europe.

    If I were a Scot, I think I would be appalled by the dishonest way in which the politics of fear is deployed wantonly by the ‘No’ camp, the Westminster establishment and the Bank of England. This would almost certainly lead me to vote ‘yes’! An independent state is perfectly feasible, the main problem being that it could undermine the strength of the left across the UK as a whole – something we must seek to avoid if the vote goes that way.

    As it is, the debate has brought into sharp focus the need for the UK (or the ‘rump UK’ if the people of Scotland vote ‘yes’) to adopt a new, federal constitutional settlement. However the votes goes, that must be the future.

  37. Posted by Claire O'Shea

    The lack of satisfactory representation by the first past the post system is illustrated by the movement for independence in Scotland I think…

  38. Posted by Richard Douglas

    The Scottish progressives who support the Yes campaign are usually at pains to say this is not a nationalist movement. But while they may not be consciously focused on nationalism, they are using nationalism as a vehicle for trying to achieve their goals. The result of this will be to inflame nationalism across the UK. It will result in increased social division within Scotland, and increased nationalist antagonisms across the rest of the UK. The progressive wing of the Yes movement has been inspiring at times, and it is wonderful to see people discover a sense of agency. However, it is also deeply naive, and in the reckless manner with which it is approaching the question of breaking up a 300 year old country, dangerous. Given its main proposed solution to the ills of neoliberalism is to hit the eject button from a state, I’m not sure what exactly it has to offer progressives based in the rest of the UK – or indeed in Scotland, should it actually secede.

  39. Posted by Sonia Rose

    Fully agree with above. We must all stop waiting for the London establishment to lead us and grow up to tell them what we want.

  40. Posted by Fred morrison

    Excellent article. The above statements need to acted on by the people to change our unequal society. A national bank non profit making needs to be established to challenge the corrupt and excessive profit making of the City. Transport needs to be nationalized and run for the benefit of the people not franchisees awarded to greedy speculators. We have to create our own renewable energy so we are not dependent on foreign sources who can influence how we react to international incidents with a threat of reducing our power.
    People must be encouraged to take a greater interest in politics and see how their involvement empowers and can influence decision making thereby enhancing democracy.

  41. Posted by des

    if Scotland vote yes, we in England will have a Tory government the rest of our lives with all public services including the NHS being sold off

  42. Posted by James R.Hall

    some time ago, I sent you a copy of a book I have had published., My Resignation I was promised that it would be read, but I have heard no further from you since. This book contains a load of new ideas which would in fact lead to widespread devolution of powers. These ideas would fit right into the changes now required. If the book has been read and not approved, I must accept that view, but if not, I am extremely disappointed that your word was not kept and the book read. It is called My Resignation. I will send another copy if you would like to read a sheaf of ideas which would allow the new powers to be introduced easily.