Tag Archives: Westminster

Scotland’s Separation Anxiety?

Unsurprisingly there are a number of people who intend to vote ‘no’ in next year’s independence referendum, whilst there are many others who remain to be convinced either way. It is interesting to consider whether part of the reason for this is that as a nation, Scotland may be suffering from a type of separation anxiety?

Whilst there might not be a single specific cause of separation anxiety in every instance, it is sometimes the case that it affects individuals who have been deprived of opportunities to fully explore their autonomy during their formative years, and therefore believe that they are limited in their capacity to make significant decisions, and take independent action, when it matters most.

In severe cases, it can have a crippling and suffocating effect on confidence, particularly when the reduced state of autonomy has been enforced over a considerable period of time by a third person on whom we have become dependent as our decision maker, and whom we have been trained to perceive as a necessary condition for our survival.

Whilst the negative psychological impact of this process is not always easy to recognise or articulate from a first person perspective, its behavioural manifestations can be easy pickings for those who have a vested interest in reinforcing the desired direction of power, particularly if there is the slightest indication of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

And so it is instructive that the Better Together campaigners frequently use the term ‘separation’ when criticising the Scottish Government’s ambition to regain full decision making powers for Holyrood. It is almost as if they were trying to manipulate the vulnerable psychology of a nation that has had its autonomy denied or restricted in order to secure the political and economic interests of others.

But that would be immoral, particularly if you questioned whether the type of separation anxiety that Scotland may be suffering from, whilst it would have already existed in a basic form as a result of generations of external control, had been deliberately exaggerated and exploited for the purpose of securing a ‘no’ vote in 2014.

Exploiting the natural anxieties that exist among some of its people, in order to make a nation believe that it would not be in its best interests to make its own decisions, would be incredibly damaging. It would be the point at which Scotland decided to turn its back for good on an opportunity to come up with its own distinctive solutions to its own unique problems, and it would be the point at which Scotland chose to avoid living through the social and cultural changes that would be required to achieve its true potential.

The main problem I have with this is not so much that I would be devastated by the outcome – if the majority of Scotland decides to vote ‘no’, then so be it – but that it would not be obvious that any such decision was actually made from an authentic standpoint. To vote that you disagreed with Scotland being an independent country may in fact turn out to be a vote not to experience a very uncomfortable episode of separation anxiety.

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What’s So Anti-Scottish about Free Education?

A clear sign of Scottish Labour’s gradual drift towards Tory type thinking was posted yesterday in Johann Lamont’s speech to mark her first anniversary as leader of the party:


Her general point is the obvious one, which Cameron and Osborne have never tired of ramming home, that the policy of free universal services is unsustainable in the current economic climate.

Perhaps that is the case, but they always omit to say that the current economic climate includes horrendous sums of money wasted every year on unnecessary and illegal wars, and the vast amounts of revenue lost by turning a blind-eye to multinational organisations choosing not to pay their share in corporation tax. Not to mention the unforgivable betrayal of Scotland’s future that occurred when the decision was taken not to set up an Oil Fund.

Lamont develops her point by arguing that persisting with the unaffordable policy of free higher education has been made possible at the expense of significant cuts to the further education sector, which has in turn created huge inequalities between Colleges and Universities.

So whereas Lamont claims that the policy of free higher education in Scotland is being paid for by the college sector, others might feel justified in countering that claim with the reminder that there would have been no need to reduce spending on education at all, had successive Conservative and Labour governments in Westminster not chosen to squander substantial sums of money elsewhere.

The most troubling part of her position is the manner in which her argument progresses from the economic sustainability concern to an attack on the fairness of free education, when graduates are said to expect higher earnings over their lifetime compared to non-graduates. Free education is either fair or it isn’t, regardless how much money self-helping politicians have thrown to the wind.

And perhaps the most baffling part of her position is the contention that the Scottish Government’s policy of free education is anti-Scottish. It is difficult to understand exactly what this is supposed to mean. How can it be anti-Scottish to promote a principle that has been distinctively Scottish for generations?

In his St Andrew’s Day message, Alex Salmond commented:

“Scotland is proud of its history of invention and discovery. We actually invented quite a bit of the modern world, from the telephone, to television to penicillin to beta blockers. However, perhaps – actually certainly – our greatest invention of all, the one that made all of the others possible, was the invention of universal free education.”

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