The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, September 01, 2014

Writers Together: the Motion Picture

Thanks to Francis Spufford for coming up with the idea; to Summerhall for hosting the event, to David Rushton of Summerhall TV for recording and editing the video, and to Sarah Stone of Better Together for helping to organise it.


Very happy to see this - saw Thursday's post just too late....

Thanks Steve. Gosh, we must have a chat about this in the pub some day soon.

Glad to see this. Likewise, I spotted this on Friday morning. Frustrating as Summerhall is just up the road! Very much enjoyed Spufford's 'Red Plenty' and was even, instinctive atheist though I may be, somewhat won over by 'Unapologetic'...

I very much appreciated this - it articulated so much of what I've been feeling as the referendum approaches and which is utterly untouched on by the campaigns or the news coverage. Thank you both.

I guess it's good that two of you are determined to see a Tory/Ukip coalition take power after the no vote. Would be good to avoid the yes vote like Owen Jones said and the dreaded 'shortcut to socialism'.

Stuff my mums pension and free prescriptions though.

Oh, check out these 1300 losers!

In not too many days, we will know, and everyone has to cope with the outcome regardless of what it happens to be. I have no wisdom or opinions to convey, so I am just listening in and following those of you who do. Hoping for the best, whichever that happens to be.

The Neoreactionries say Yes!

Iain Mac: 'the two of you are determined to see a Tory/Ukip coalition take power after a no vote.'

Is a simple lie the best you can do?

As for your mum's pension, nothing any likely UK government is likely to do could deplete its value as much or as fast or as long as the kind of hammering the markets will give Scotland after Yes.

Have fun explaining to her that it was all worth it for a flag.

Thanks, Ken and Francis, for sharing your views so frankly and honestly. I found it very enlightening.

Thanks, little sis!

I must confess to not watching it all.
You have considered the possibilites inherent in creating a new state? If it goes Yes, all the energy from the campaign will go to making the new Scotland fair and just (I hope).
I'm not going to stop reading and buying your books, even I disagree with you both on this.

As a comment of mine at Crooked Timber's Scottish independence thread is held up in moderation, I thought I would also post it here and at John Quiggin's Monday Message Board. Broken into parts for length:-

What I've fundamentally got against the current Scottish Nationalist thrust for independence is just precisely that it is disregarding the whole cultural identity thing that shows up among the Welsh (and Irish) - and that's even before looking at the certain cost and the doubtful benefit, which should never be counted among the reasons for or against but should always be reckoned as to whether they allow achieving ends that are desired. Traditionally, Celts get their identity from connection and affiliation, not from location like England and continental Europe (e.g. only Yorkshiremen born could play cricket for Yorkshire, for a very long time); hence Buchanan's work on Scots Law being described as "... regni apud [emphasis added] Scotos", "... of the kingdom among the Scots", and why it was "Mary Queen of [emphasis added] Scots" but "Queen Elizabeth of England". (That is also why, despite my being born in London to an Irish mother and a Scottish father, my mother could say that she was proud I was British and not English.) There is the odd quirk that, although union never fused the lower and middle classes, the upper classes of Britain and Ireland really did merge - though that of the latter was never truly accepted as their own by the Irish, the Ascendancy being "English to the Irish and Irish to the English" on the back of affinity versus location ways of looking at things; ironically, the Duke of Wellington's rebuttal to an Englishman who called him Irish was "Jesus Christ may have been born in a stable but that didn't make him a horse", something which struck me as so natural a way of looking at things that it took me years to realise that it was an Irish point of view that Wellington held, and not an English one at all. This fusion may deceive outsiders into not realising that about half of the British Prime Ministers of the last century were Scots of this fused sort (Campbell-Bannerman, Balfour, Macmillan, Douglas Home, Blair and Cameron) as well as a couple of more obvious Scots (Keir Hardie, Brown); the union has not short changed Scotland, nor will it for so long as it does not dissolve Scottishness.


But Salmond's effort is not only geographically based, omitting Scots in England (or here in Australia), who are more likely to have self selected according to the other, greater whole, approach; it is also likely to manufacture an identity along non-Celtic lines, a right little, tight little Scotland analogous to the goals of the "little Englanders" of a century ago. It has no place for George MacDonald Fraser - or for the Scottish Nationalism of Sir Compton Mackenzie, since each was English by that shrivelled reckoning. In due time, that independence would dissolve Scottishness.

There is an irony: polling suggests that support for this independence is weaker among the old and among the young; it is not a case of "tomorrow belongs to us" unless the Salmonds of today can seize the day and manufacture that tomorrow. But they can only do it on the back of a manufactured people; where politicians mostly elect a new people by instalments by promoting immigration, that old fish is more likely to do it in Scotland by promoting the leaving of those who follow a different banner, with the methods of Mayor Cooley of Boston. Scotland will be made poorer, and the Scots as a whole will too, but those who remain within the newer, smaller land will be more and more concentrated and perhaps even better off per fewer head, like raisins shrivelled into sweetness by losing the full fruit; non regnum apud Scotos sed terra Scotulorum. Look around; has not Salmond already pushed abroad more and more Scots who were not of his persuasion?

So, yes, there should be a Scottish independence - but not this independence which is a mere mockery of English ways and so much less than Scots, but rather there should be something of fuller flower, quite possibly within a larger, fairer and confederal Britain.

A very interesting point, which I hadn't thought of in those terms but that chimes with my own feeling that the Scotland of Yes isn't Scotland as I know it.

Erratum: for "Keir Hardie" read "Ramsay MacDonald" (brain fart).

P.M Laurence,

Irish Nationalist have the Duke of Wellington saying the horse and stable quote...but it was actually Daniel O'Connell saying that about him.

"The poor old Duke [of Wellington]! What shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse." Shaw's Authenticated Report of the Irish State Trials (1844), p. 93


The key to maintaining the union in defence of class solidarity is to critic the capitalist system while creating a collective vision for the future. This petty bourgeois nationalism is embarrassing. Listening to Francis giving his opening statement was difficult. The unity of slaves and masters in the development of bourgeois democracy....What is the 'hard' left you were part off Ken? I don't think it made its presence known.

The hard left I was part of was the Trots then the CP. I've not been part of it for a long time. I still pay attention to it. If anyone from these quarters has come up with a credible way to unite the class around a critique of capitalism and a collective vision of the future, it has completely passed me by.

Still, I think a big state is better than a small one as a political arena if the working class ever does get its act together.

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