Invective: Terms and Conditions

I’ve got an invective policy on this blog. There are some topics and individuals upon which the only tongue lashings are the threads tying down a sharp tongue. That doesn’t mean I’m not burning with smart arsed and bitchy put downs against [inaudible mumble] and their [inaudible mumble] which furgodssake [inaudibly mumbled]. But I keep schtum anyway, even when it’s [inaudible mumble] John Mason. Is that hypocritical of me? Quite possibly. I don’t care. I’m human, I contain contradictions. We all do. That’s what makes us human.

I will not criticise any individual, organisation, or campaigning group actively seeking a Yes vote in September. No one told me not to. I’ve got protection from undue influence – through the magic of scissors and PVA glue I transformed my lovely free expensively produced UKOK bookletty thingy into a lovely hat which protects the sensitive regions of the neo-cortex from SNP mind control rays. It works better than tinfoil, though it’s certainly less stylish.

But the fact I’m not going to criticise or mock them doesn’t mean I agree with everything every other Yes group or campaigner says or does, nor does it mean I agree with their strategies or tactics. This is a grassroots movement. That’s the opposite of a manicured lawn, which is a monoculture of manufactured sameness. A mass movement is a big breathing living mass of organic nature, a forest or a field of wild flowers. That’s the whole point of being a mass grassroot movement. It’s not a controlled domesticated thing. It contains contradictions and incompatibilities. And that’s precisely how it should be.

All of us come to this debate with our own histories, our own stories, our own perspectives. We’ve got our own expectations, and our own priorities about the things we want to achieve and how to achieve them. The only thing we have in common is the agreement that Scotland requires the full powers of self-government in order to tackle them effectively. I don’t criticise other Yes supporters, even those with whom I have fundamental political disagreements, because I refuse to be distracted from the prize of a Yes vote in September.

I’m not saying others should follow my example. That’s entirely up to other people. Like I said, we each come to this debate with our own experiences, our own perspectives, and our own priorities. What I see as my priority is not necessarily what others see as theirs. This is a mass grassroots movement, there is no party line – but I would ask people to reflect upon the fact that there are now just 83 days to go until the most important vote in Scottish history, and perhaps to consider the need for a bit of self-discipline.

There is a good argument to be made that it’s arrogant to tell a person that they must delay or downplay their own important issues in the cause of another campaign. It’s an argument I’ve used myself often enough in the past – see what I mean about hypocrisy and contradictions? I remember many years ago an unreconstructed socialist telling me that all that “homosexual stuff” was a dangerous distraction from the real prize of building socialism in Britain. Only once that had been achieved would the workers’ collectives arrive at a true and just dispensation for the good little gay people who’d kept their mouths shut for the cause. But it’s not for him or anyone else to tell me what my political priorities ought to be. The political is personal and I’m not about to put off making much needed changes in my own life in the vague hope that one day paradise will arrive and someone else will do it for me. I’m going to do it myself. Now.

In fact it’s just like Labour’s solidarity argument – Scotland must put off tackling her own problems with poverty and social exclusion until the bright dawn comes and we get a UK Labour government which is actually a Labour government as opposed to the Labour goverments we actually get. Only Labour’s paradise never comes. This is something else we need to do for ourselves too, and why we need to vote Yes.

Political campaigns are like good comedy, except politicians aren’t funny on purpose. But the secret is still in the timing. There’s a time to pick a fight, and there’s a time to put that fight off for another day. Right now, those who are blocking progress towards tackling the many social and political issues Scotland faces are not other Yes campaigners – no matter how distasteful or reprehensible you may find them, their views or their tactics. It’s those who want us to vote No who are the immediate obstacle to progress. It’s the No campaign which seeks to deny us, all of us with our various opinions priorities and perspectives, from taking control of the tools Scotland requires to begin to work on the problems Scotland faces. And when Yes supporters attack each other, we do the No campaign’s job for them.

As we approach 18 September, and the possibility of a Yes vote becomes real, there is a greater tendency to jump the gun and start fighting the fights we can only fight in an independent Scotland. Right now we’re 83 days away from the referendum, hoping that Yes supporters do not criticise other Yes supporters is not the same as asking women or gay people or black people not to tackle pressing issues of sexism, homophobia or racism until the glorious day sometime in a vague and undetermined future when the revolution arrives and all these things will be sorted for us. There’s an expiry date on the referendum special offer, and it’s one that’s not far off. On 19 September, everything changes.  And after that date, we will still have our own priorities – but with a Yes vote we’ll have the tools we need to tackle them ourselves.

This is not a student debating competition. There’s a far bigger prize. Keep your eye on it and don’t be distracted. Keep calm, keep focussed. Direct your ire carefully. Prioritise it. And we will win.



51 comments on “Invective: Terms and Conditions

  1. Alistair grapevine says:

    well said, that is why we must not feed the trolls, as there goal is to divide us,

  2. macart763 says:

    Couldn’t agree more and ALL of the above should go without saying Paul.

    We’re all adults and we should know when something is so important, so crucial to the well being of all that the smaller stuff goes to one side. Party politics and personal oneupmanship is for kids and politicians. Leave the F**KING rosettes and crusade pamphlets in the drawer. We’re YES voters and I don’t give a flying F**K whether your political preferences day to day are red, yellow, blue, gold or green. Christ I’ll even shake the hand or kiss the first tory yes voter I meet. Oh wait… RIGHT I’ll think about that last one.

    This is about INDEPENDENCE, the freedom to choose our own path and better ourselves and communities through the choices we freely make for ourselves. Something we have NEVER, EVER had before. Priorities were always driven from elsewhere and decided elsewhere. Now we have the chance to set the priorities and it won’t come again in the lifetimes of many who vote on the 18th and maybe not ever again.

    This is too rare and too precious an opportunity in today’s world. On September 18th everyone gets out of bed and everyone makes that trip to the polling booth. One word, one thought, one intent, to put that cross in a YES box.

    Rant over.

  3. This Referendum campaign has galvanised politics in Scotland and brought out in the Yes side a respect for other people’s views, well apart from the Nae side, who cannot agree within their own individual party groupings.

    It just may be a harbinger of the future of an independent Scotland and a much more representative mosaic of smaller political parties, coalescing dynamically, in the best interests of the people of Scotland, to advance a progressive political agenda.

    I hope that the Willie Rennies, the whole fucking Scottish “Labour” gang and the Tories all retire after Independence Day , how could they change allegiance to the people of Scotland after this campaign?

    The era of the Punch and Judy style of politics must come to an end and that for me is my fervent hope. The mold of political democracy in Scotland will have been broken and the Westminster model will be consigned to the dustbin of history

    Cameron is a lightweight, even in Polish.

    He will receive the biggest public slap in the face when Junckers is voted in by everybody else.

    Why does Cameron hate Junckers so much? Is it because he is too left wing or a loony righty?

    It is because he is a consensual politician, that is how Luxembourg came into being and survived, as did Switzerland.

    Junckers is a direct challenge to Cameron’s Punch and Judy, MSM manipulation and lying agenda.

    Cameron wants to do the deals in the dark, Junckers will do the deals much more in the open.

    Cameron’s days are numbered and if he appears against AS in a debate, it will be his last act before he is locked in the Library with a bottle of Jura Malt and a pistol.

    • Helena Brown says:

      See thon last paragraph, brilliant. Can I have tickets for that.
      I see he got a row from the Judge in the phone hacking case over his remarks about Coulson made whilst Coulson was awaiting the verdict on two more charges. The man is an erse.

      • Helena, I wonder what the real relationship of the menage a trois, DC, Coulson and Rebekka was really all about and how much of the truth will never come out in our lifetimes?

        DC stood up in the Palace of Westminster and commented upon a trial still in progress.

        I wonder if that was a very calculate deliberate move by him to “innocently” poison the well of justice and render it very difficult for Coulson be further convic ted, except of coure in Scogland wrt Tommy Sherriden?

        Interesting that Rebekka Brooke’s QC was David Cameron’s brother?

        • rab_the_doubter says:

          For the life of me I cannot understand why Cameron was not charged with Contempt of Court or something similar for what was quite clearly an attempt to interfere in the case.

          • Seems very calculated to me.

            Wonder why he would have done that beyond he is not top notch?

            -but his brother is a QC and funnily enough the defence QC for Bekky Brooks. Surely he would have discussed this with his own team and why not his brother?


            • Helena Brown says:

              When I heard this I had no idea that his Brother was the QC for Rebekah Brooks, talk about incestuous. I wonder about all of this and is there another divorce in the offing for the fair Rebekah? Is Charlie being made a right Charlie? Will she go back to her job with Murdoch?
              I watched last night as the media again made much of the friendship? between Salmond and Murdoch, no mention of the friendships of Cameron/Miliband/Blair and Brown (until the great falling out)and for that matter Thatcher and Major but that is to be expected, they are all in the establishment not breaking it.

    • Angry_Weegie says:

      What a waste of a good bottle of single malt.

  4. Forgot to tick the box for Notifications of follow-ups

    Sorry, rectified now.

  5. Bang on, Paul. The diversity of the Yes campaign is truly amazing and inspiring. It gives me hope that once we’ve voted Yes, we’ll be able to build consensus politics that allows us to do what will be best for the majority and argue constructively for the things that we believe in.

  6. Helena Brown says:

    We will only win if we stay focused, Independence is the one and only thing we have to think about right now. We the folk of Scotland have a tendency for infighting, this must not be allowed to happen, That we surely can agree about. I for one will be up and over the road as soon as, on the 18th. Lets show ’em.

  7. Illy says:

    Thanks for that, that is exactly why I’ve not started up my own politics blog yet. I *know* I’d get sidetracked by all the issues that we don’t have the power to fix until after we get a yes, and before that conversation is worth having in detail (which is a conversation I *really* want to have) we need to be able to act on it.

    Here’s hoping we get the chance to have those arguments about the details of policy after the 19th.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Send me a link to it please, and I’ll include your blog in the indy blog list.

      Edit: Oh sorry ignore that. I misread you.

      • Illy says:

        Yeah, I’m writing what I can now, just keeping the policy stuff on my home machine, and I’m not certain that the blog format is the best one for what I want to do anyway, but there’s no point in even having the discussion until we know whether we should be trying to influence Westminster or Holyrood.

        So until then, I’m just going to stick to comments on the other blogs, and try to stay off policy desicions which aren’t relevent until after the referendum (I’m pretty sure I disagree on some major bits, compared to the majority of the debate, and I don’t want to get the conversation bogged down in things that don’t matter yet, there’ll be two years for debating policy after the referendum is won)

        • A Greater Stage says:

          Illy, go for it anyway, start a blog, I was the same, started mine in March and Paul has very kindly put me in the indy links. Every last one of us has things we can contribute and I bet there will be something you will think of that no-one else has.

          I can understand the reluctance to perhaps give an opinion on something that may be dependent on us winning, but again don’t let that stop you either. Win or lose, Scotland has challenges that need facing and the only way to do it is to face them and if we win, scrub that, when we win, surely better to have started the ball rolling and be that one step ahead.

          I average maybe one or two percent of the people Paul reaches every day if even that (and most of that is expats) and now that I can only dream of writing as well as he does, but I know I’ve helped bring a few people over to Yes through my blog and quite frankly every vote counts and every soul we can bring along with us is one more person who can help us build the Scotland we all want.

          Go for it, as Paul says, we are genuinely grassroots, that means we all have different ideas and they all count not least because none of us has all the answers, the only rule is to never knowingly feed Britnat trolls. Every opinion expressed is one more voice to add to the chorus that is demanding the right to be the ones who build Scotland’s future. Whatever you decide, good luck.

  8. Fiona says:

    There are those on the unionist side who make great capital on people’s disillusion with politics per se. They are the ones who say that it will make no difference if we vote yes because all politicians are the same and there is no hope. They have given up on democracy, perhaps. I have not.

    It is certainly understandable that people believe there is no alternative: for there IS no alternative within the union. What is sad is that by now some people appear to believe that there COULD not be an alternative.

    What is not logical is to imagine that means we should vote No. If you are one of those who believes that nothing can or will change then why not step aside and let those of us who believe that there is at least a chance of a better country give it a shot? After all, you have nothing to lose, at least according to your own argument. I do not understand a position which clings to nurse when nurse is quite clearly negligent, at best.

    Whatever your vision of the good society it is surely not what we have at present. We have very different views about what it looks like: that is inevitable. But as I listen to people I hear the post war consensus on all sides. Everybody seems to want prosperity, and a decent life for everyone whether they are rich or poor. Everybody wants good education and good jobs and decent housing at a price people can afford to pay. Everybody wants a good national health service free from the conflicting priorities of profit and service. And on and on.

    That is a description of the post war consensus: a consensus in which people agreed about the aims, but not about the means of achieving them. This is no longer true in the UK. Although the hurrah words stay the same it is clear that the plutocrats do not want those things: they want something quite different. There can be no compromise with people who fundamentally do not want the same things: for those aspirations are mutually exclusive. If I want full employment I cannot work with someone who believes that full employment is tantamount to economic disaster; and that is what neoliberals do believe. On their own terms they state that when unemployment falls below what they are pleased to call NAIRU they must take steps to reverse that trend: that is what Mr Carney has said quite explicitly and it is what our plutocrats do. That is but one example

    We are in a position within the union where the disagreement is not how we should pursue our shared goals; it is not even whether we should pursue them , as it was in the 1980’s; it is what are those goals, if any, that we all share. To me it seems the vast majority still share the post war goals, and that is why the rhetoric is as it is. It is designed to disguise the fact that the consensus does not extend to the politicians and the corporates: they also have goals; just not the same goals. That was probably always true of corporates: it is the capture of politics by that group that makes the difference

    I believe that we are all on the same side at least on this perspective; old style tories want what I want though we vehemently disagree on means: minorities of all stripes want what I want too: not at the margins, for there are real differences there: but in terms of decent living conditions and mutual respect etc.

    We cannot get those things within the UK: not any more. We have a chance in an independent Scotland, though no certainty. But I honestly believe we have more in common than divides us in these terms: and I honestly believe that independence is a necessary condition for starting to change things for the better. All else will be open to us ONLY if we take that first step: it is not in itself enough to build a better state: but we can’t start without it.

    • macart763 says:


      Independence is a platform for change, but the change necessary must come through us as citizens and in the form of democratic consensus. No one will change our governance for us, we must do that for ourselves.

    • Fiona

      Good post.

      The key to the “all politicians are the same” mantra is that the system allows them to be so.

      Westminster claims to be supreme and thus they make the laws, they control the law and now the MSM.

      Without a written constitution and the rights of the people and the duties of the parliamentary system, being defined Dracula has been given the keys to the bloodbank.

      It si time to change from a, essentially, two party system, each with an internal consensus based a first past the post electoral mechanism to a much more plural, inclusive system which reflects diversity.

      For that to work, unlike it does in Italy, the politicians must have as a central objective the good of the people.

      That would require a written constitution and some sort of legal mechanism to control and police it. I believe Sweden has a constitutional police but, how it works in reality, I am unsure.

      We also need a mechanism, from the people up to lob put the miscreants who work for their ends by suborning the constitution and its spirit.

      • I’ll need to learn to punctuate better and actually see my spelling mistakes.

        • Illy says:

          I’m srue taht you are prefcetly udnrestnadble.

          Isn’t the human brain a wonderful thing?

          If I still had the link I’d link it: There’s a study that showed that as long as all the letters are in the right words, and the first and last letters are in the right place in each word, the sentence is understandable by the overwhelming majority of people. So don’t sweat the little things😉

          • Illy

            I have written numerous university essays and a dissertation or two, as well as a couple of patents. My Prof when I did my science degree was a an ex civil servant and was a stickler for grammar, punctuation, spelling, relevance and brevity.

            The technique I developed, was to write with a flow, do a quick re-read, correct and put it away in a drawer for a day or two. Then re-read, correct and reduce the verbiage by red penciling the superfluous, irrelevant, non sequiturs and spelling mistakes. Usually that took my word count down by at least 50%.

            Second period of hibernation and final touch up, perhaps with a change of emphasis.

            When I read any thing I have just written, I read what I thought I had said. I have learned to break that link by that little hibernation trick.

            The problem is, that technique cannot work with a blog post.

            I never do Twitter.

    • Illy says:

      You know, I think it may be worth pinning Cameron (and Salmond, lets be fair here) on how he measures how successful a state is. What measure you use defines how you see your goal.

      I measure by how well the worst off are doing. It may not be very precisely measurable, but it is certainly accurately measurable.

      I don’t think I am anywhere near alone in that.

      Hrrm, I wonder if that measurement should be in the Scottish Constitution?

      Ghaa, I *just* said I would stay off policy discussions until after the referendum was won or lost. Oh well, I can at least keep it short and sweet.

  9. handclapping says:

    Its Cameron’s problem.
    Only after the Referendum can he define Britishness.

  10. Eilean says:

    Love this blog (as always!!) and I agree with everything you say. Yes supporters must try to keep our balance, keep calm and keep focussed. There’s a load of things that will need to be addressed in an independent Scotland. As has been pointed out, trying to address these and arguing now about what is and isn’t important, is both meaningless and a waste of the energy we’ll need after 18 September.

    I’m so proud (and just a bit surprised) at how well-informed many Scots have become about the referendum, how engaged they are in the debate and how good-natured (in the main) the chat has been. The referendum run-up, open debate and information-sharing across Scotland and beyond has been so good for our country, our people and our combined self-confidence.

  11. Capella says:

    Agreed. Good comments Fiona and Panda. For me, it’s about democracy. The one we’ve got is broken and needs fixed. The first step is independence so the focus now has to be on YES on 18th September.
    Gore Vidal described the US as a one party state with two right wings. The UK is the same and for the same reason – domination of government by the elite and their corporations. Old Labour is dead. The party which once supported a decent school and a decent hospital in every locality is now mired in PFIs, austerity and privatisation. When Iceland collapsed after the crash, they jailed the bankers and drew up a new constitution – online! We need to be involved in developing our constitution – always a work in progress – once a YES vote is secured.

    • Illy says:

      Here’s something I had quite a rant about on the constitutional consultation feedback form:

      I don’t think a national constitution should be a “work in progress”, I think it should lay down the absolute basics, that *will never* get changed, and not include a laundry list of policies that seem like a good idea at the time. Because splitting it that way makes the important things harder to change. (If changing the constitution is easy, and done all the time, because it’s a laundry list of policies as well as the fundamentals, what protection do the fundamentals have over the policies?)

      • Capella says:

        Dangerous waters Illy to think a constitution can never be changed. . Lord Braxfield, (the hinging judge) in 1793 sentenced five members of the radical democratic Corresponding Society to 14 years transportation to Australia, declaring that “the British constitution is the best that ever was since the creation of the world, and it is not possible to make it better”.
        That’s tyranny.

        • Illy says:

          “Never” may be a bit strong, but I think there should be tiers of difficulty for changing things, and the constitution should be the hardest to change.

          Comments about nuclear weapon policy, for instance, shouldn’t be on the same tier of difficulty to change as the declaration of human rights. (Standard armour piercing ammunition these days is made from “depleted Uranium” which is essentially nuclear waste, and as far as I’m concerned, a nuclear weapon (its use causes the same long-term effects, just without the big explosion) Personally, I’m against their use, but I can see future situations where that would have to be repealed, and once you’ve repealed one part of the constitution, the rest becomes more vunerable)

          Basically, I think the constitution should be *built* so that it shouldn’t need changing. There’s always unforseen circumstances where it might happen, but we shouldn’t encourage them.

  12. faolie says:

    Bang on the money as usual Paul. And quite aside from the occasional Yes v Yes ‘discussion’ there’s still not quite enough emphasis or stress that this is not a bau election but a once in a lifetime vote for a new country. Time enough for politics and policies in the 2016 campaign. It’s something that I think that the SNP ought to emphasise more – that this is everybody voting Yes together!

    By the way, I read your wee reply to Illy above about linking to his (her?) non-existent blog. Well, I keep a wee indy website whose mission is to provide short, easily digestible and understandable answers to questions about independence. Would you link to it? I’ll understand completely if you feel you can’t though – that’s a big list you’ve got there already. It’s at

  13. diabloandco says:

    Right as usual.
    We can win this thing!
    There are days when I have to repeat that ad nauseam to myself and other days when I skip along full of confidence knowing we can win this thing!

  14. sagacity says:

    This post and the below the line replies are a revelation and an inspiration. Rarely have I come across such deeply considered and eloquently stated arguments. This is clearly what is missing from our main stream publications and Fiona’s response is worthy or much wider dissemination.

    Paul you are a wonder. I am a rather naive septuagenarian male but having read your earlier post on homophobia I am now much more attuned to the sensitivities of others with different sexual

  15. Juteman says:

    But some of those ‘Yes’ supporters are not Yes supporters. Causing division is their purpose. They are working away at causing conflict amongst true Indy supporters.
    I have my Eye on a few.

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    Yes, Paul, it’s most important that we support each other, for without independence on the 19th September Scotland will be well and truly hammered by the Westminster tribe.
    But obviously after a successful campaign we can look forward to many interesting discussions and arguments online……..and with Derek Bateman and friends running the show we’ll actually have worthy radio and TV also. Lucky people who have opted to live in what will be an independent nation once more……. because it HAS to happen!

  17. […] I've got an invective policy on this blog. There are some topics and individuals upon which the only tongue lashings are the threads tying down a sharp tongue. That doesn't mean I'm not burning wit…  […]

  18. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    What he said.

  19. Blizzard says:

    A wet Wednesday evening in Troon, Around 500 people turn up to hear a YES/NO debate. Since then we have had so much positive feedback from people who don’t normally do “politics”.

    The poll on the night showed:

    Entry: Yes 49%, No 28%, Don’t Know 23%

    Exit Yes 63%, No 28%, Don’t Know 9%

    People are energised. This is not going back in the box. Scotland is truly showing the world a different way of political engagement. This is in no small part as a result of selfless work by Paul, Derek B, Stu and the thousands of YES citizens working for a better Scotland.

    Thanks again Paul.

    • weegingerdug says:

      There’s that 63% Yes again. I keep seeing that figure… Brilliant result!

      • sagacity says:

        I have had 63% Yes, 37% No on an 80% turnout on my mind for some time. No accountable reason but curiously it comes to just over 50% of those eligible to vote. Even Baroness Jay couldn’t come up with ‘Yes doesn’t necessarily mean Yes’ on those figures.

  20. Squeaky bum time for No

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