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Samizdata quote of the day – the Debatable Lands edition

[Scottish] Nationalist ideology struggles to integrate debatable lands like this one. Humza Yousaf has taken charge of a party which has become addicted to its fictions. By introducing its gender recognition reforms in the knowledge that the High Court of Justice would probably quash them (as it did), and deciding to treat the next general election as a “de facto referendum”, it was acting out a fantasy. The best hope for Scottish nationalism now is to separate itself from the cause of independence and to fight for a less lop-sided and unrealistic United Kingdom.

Graham Robb

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the Debatable Lands edition

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Would it be so bad if Scotland became independent? Since they no longer produce “Taggart”, what do they provide in terms of culture? Perhaps Britain should cut Scotland adrift! Rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall could boost both economies!

  • Would it be so bad if Scotland became independent?

    I am not quite so blasé about writing off Scotland’s Unionists.

  • Kirk

    I’ve really got nothing to say about Scotland. Family came from there, generations ago. I see nothing I recognize in today’s Scotland, and I think that much of what made Scotland Scotland left with the diaspora. The ones who stayed behind were not the best of the nation; the ones who left or were driven out? If they’d remained, I suspect that modern Scotland would be a far different place.

  • Would it be so bad if Scotland became independent?

    The problem with Scottish Independence is that it would create a pauper neighbour to the rump UK where everyone in newly independent Scotland has the right to live, work, receive welfare and pensions in the rump UK.

    It would make the channel boat crisis look like a mild headache in comparison, with both businesses and residents abandoning the Scottish Nationalist state almost overnight.

    Those like myself who can pack up in a couple of large suitcases would leave the morning after Independence was declared, it would be a harder case for those with jobs, kids and property, but eventually it would be the only option for something like 2 – 4 million people.

    All that would be left would be those who are unable / can’t afford to leave and political apparatchiks of the government.

    Unless the SNP are going to build a new Berlin Wall overnight.

  • Mr Ed


    The problem with Scottish Independence is that it would create a pauper neighbour to the rump UK where everyone in newly independent Scotland has the right to live, work, receive welfare and pensions in the rump UK.

    That is of course, the reality of what would happen, but it need not be like that. Rump UK could of course remove citizenship and all pension and residence rights from anyone resident in Scotland or not having at least an English, Welsh or Northern Irish grandparent and mine and wire the border, and expel any poor souls who flee south after Independence Day. After all, independence means just that. After all, to permit residents of a newly-independent Scotland to work in rumpUK, claim pensions or even visit freely after independence would be to pretend that Scotland wasn’t independent, and that would be wrong and patronising.

  • Not all those resident in Scotland have Scottish ancestry (I have none that I am aware of and live here), many Scots have mixed parentage and those new here would have no obvious ties yet UK Citizenship or UK Permanent Residence (not Scottish).

    Sorting out disputing claims would be a nightmare and take forever.

    As we saw with BRExit, there were years between the vote itself and the finalisation of departure from the EU (as much as such a thing can be said to have happened even under the Windsor Protocol).

    The same would be true of Scottish Independence, there would be an extended period between an actual vote and the legal ratification of Scotland’s independence. Any movement between Scotland and other parts of the union between the vote and actual enactment would simply be the free movement of UK citizens within the UK.

    There would also be the matter of citizenship itself. Although Scottish Citizenship would come into existence at some point after the vote you could not force that citizenship onto those who were born beforehand, they would be dual citizens unless they chose to voluntarily renounce their citizenship.

    To say nothing of those of Scots ancestry living in the rump UK or abroad. What happens to them?

    None of this is straight forward at all, despite the breezy assurance of the demented porridge wogs of the SNP and its new leader Humza Useless.

  • Paul Marks

    The Scottish National Party claims to support the independence of Scotland – but it does not support the independence of Scotland, it supports rule by the European Union (neither Brussels or Frankfurt, the European Central Bank, is in Scotland).

    The SNP is based on this contradiction – claiming to support national independence, whilst not supporting it.

    As for its Frankfurt School Marxist doctrines, specifically on “Gender” (Classical Marxists claimed to care about industrial workers, Frankfurt School Marxists claim to care about various racial and sexual groups) – these are in direct contradiction with the Islamic faith of Mr Yusuf.

    “You do not get to tell me what Islamic doctrine is – you are an Islamophobe!”

    I do not have to tell you what Islamic doctrine is Mr Yusuf – if (if) you carry on down this road, with “Trans sexualism”, including the sexual mutilation of children, faithful followers of Islam will remind you what Islamic doctrine is on these matters. You may, possibly, get away with this as regards to infidel children – but if you support the sexual mutilation of one Muslim child, things will go badly for you Sir.

    As for the view, according to the Hadiths, of Muhammed on homosexual acts, let alone trans sexualism, his view was “kill the one who does it, and kill the one to whom it is done”.

    I do NOT agree with this opinion, but I do not get to decide the doctrines of this, or any other, religion. And neither does Mr Hamza Yusuf.

  • Paul Marks

    Short version for those people who claim that I am too long winded.

    The Scottish National Party does NOT support an independent Scotland.

    And one can NOT be a Frankfurt School Marxist (“Woke”) and be a faithful follower of Islam – these world views are in contradiction.

  • Paul Marks

    The BBC and general “mainstream” media coverage of the leadership election was interesting.

    It was presented as an outrage that one of the candidates was “boo-hiss” a Christian – but it was presented as wonderful that another of the candidates (who won by the 52% to 48% – the same margin as the United Kingdom independence referendum of 2016) was a Muslim.

    This was odd – as the social teaching of Islam on abortion, homosexuality, women, and so on, is much the same as Christianity – it is just clearer about the legal penalties. Jesus, unlike Muhammed, was not a law giver (in a governmental sense) or Earthly ruler.

    The hatred of the “Woke” for Christians (for example see their celebration of the murder of Christian children in Nashville “this is us when we see Transphobes” picture of person holding firearms, and hope that “Republicans” were killed expressed in Social Media) and their love of Muslims, is in contradiction.

    “Queers for Palestine” and all the rest of it, does not make any sense – the “Woke” Frankfurt School Marxists show a patronising disregard for the doctrines of the Islamic faith. They seem to regard Islam, hundreds of millions of Muslim people, as just a weapon to use against the “Capitalist” West.

    Muslim people are not just a tool of the “Woke” (of the Frankfurt School Marxists) – Muslims have their own doctrines (legal code) that goes back many centuries.

    And many faithful Muslims are highly intelligent – they will not for ever be just a tool of the “Woke”, they may well have a different idea as to who-should-use-who-to-establish-what.

  • IrishOtter49

    Fun fact: A disproportionate number of America’s 19th century frontier gunfighters, outlaws, and lawmen were of Scottish (incl. Scots Irish) descent. E.g., the James brothers, the Earps, the Youngers, etc.

    The author Cormac McCarthy, himself of Irish (Catholic) descent, observed in one of his novels that men of Scots/Scots Irish ancestry were primarily responsible for the gun violence and associated criminal violence for which the American Frontier was, rightly or wrongly, famous (or infamous, as the case may be).

    A notable exception to the Scots-Scots Irish ancestry of so many lawmen and outlaws was Irish Catholic Henry McCarty, a.k.a. Billy Bonney, “Billy the Kid.”

  • Paul Marks


    The explorers and combat soldiers of America were also very disproportionately “Scots Irish” (Protestant Irish).

    They played a vital rule in creating the United States – and in expanding it from sea to shining sea. And played a disproportionate combat role in all the wars of the United States. Kit Carson is just one example – see his role in the war against Mexico (carrying messages hundreds of miles through supposedly impossible conditions) and in the wars against various nomad tribes.

    A “Redneck” may be bad person to meet in a bar (he may think you have spilled his drink – or just not like the look of you) but when you are screaming on a battlefield, wounded and unable to move, it is likely to be a “Redneck” (perhaps a soldier or Marine you have never met) who will rush out under fire, and carry you back – even getting shot himself doing it.

    An example from British military history – the Ulster Division of the First World War was formed from the private “para military” “Ulster Defence Association” (an off shoot of the Covenant of 1912).

    During the Somme offensive of 1916 soldiers of the Ulster Division found the son of John Redmond (the Irish Nationalist leader – i.e. a foe back home) laying wounded on the field – and they carried him back, as the Germans shot them down.

    “Why did they do that – it was obvious the Redmond boy was going to die, why risk your own life to bring him back?”

    Anyone who asks the question would not understand the answer.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the difference between “Ulster Scots” (Protestant Ulsterman) culture and Scottish culture – some say it goes back to 1712.

    It was then, back under Queen Anne that the Church of Scotland (I think by Act of Parliament) went from being controlled by the local congregations choosing the local minister, to the central authority of the Church choosing the local ministers.

    In Ulster that did not happen – there the Presbyterian Church was not the “Established Church” (the Anglican Church of Ireland was the “Established Church” – indeed “dissenters” were discriminated against in law in the 1700s).

    So local Protestant communities continued to choose their own ministers in Ulster – and they carried on doing that in what is now the United States.

    The Protestant Irish started to emigrate to the American colonies (as they were then) long before the mass Catholic Irish emigration of the 19th century.

    Indeed the British blamed the “Black Robed Regiment” of dissenting Protestant preachers, locally chosen by the congregation, for the American revolt of 1776.

    The American left, Marxist and non Marxist, have always known who their chief enemy is – the “Rednecks” with their “clinging to the Bible” (and to the Constitution – which they read, rather than trust to the “priest craft” of judges to “interpret” for them) and their guns.

    By the way – to the liars of the Economist magazine who blame conservativism on people from “the Confederacy” moving north after the Civil War.

    “Rednecks” were the main fighters on BOTH sides of the Civil War (Union as well as Confederate) and the North was as “boo-hiss – death-to-the-Christians” Christian as the South was back then.

    For the record – the Confederacy was not conservative, it had higher and more progressive taxes than the Union, and more fiat money inflation, and more regulation, and more state control of industry and transport.

    But the liars of the Economist magazine are not interested in the truth – other than in how to subvert it in the interests of the international government and corporate bureaucracy that they serve.

  • Paul Marks

    None of the above should be taken to say there is not a dark side to Scots-Irish culture.

    For example, when future President Andrew Jackson was a young boy he was cut across the face with a sabre by a British officer for refusing to clean his boots – the boy Jackson burst into tears.

    Rather than comforting him – his mother whipped him savagely for crying, screaming “boys do not cry, boys fight!” (in her defence I believe the lady had already lost her older son to the war with the British).

    Andrew Jackson grew up to be a rather severe man – as the British, the Indians and the Negroes (as they used to be called) found out the hard way. Still it is very unlikely that the United States would have survived without men like Jackson – and he was complicated, ruthless Indian fighter but also a man who de facto adopted an Indian as his son and sent him to Harvard.

    David Crockett (not “Davy” please) was just as much Scots Irish as “Old Hickory” – and even more opposed to government spending (“where does it say in the Constitution of these United States that the Federal Government can spend money on what the Gentleman has suggested?” – he certainly did not hold the view that the words “common defence and general welfare” the PURPOSE of the following specific spending powers granted to the Congress in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution of the United States were a “general welfare spending” a view held by vermin), was a great defender of Indian rights, and he opposed slavery.

    Senator “Bullion” Benton (called that for his passionate hatred of fiat money and Credit Bubble bankers – full disclosure, I share that hatred) also came out against slavery.

    Senator Benton was asked, in his old age, if he remembered President Jackson – “Of course, I remember him – I believe I shot him once, he was a fine man!”

    There is no necessary connection, in Scots Irish culture, between shooting someone (or stabbing them to death – or whatever) and disliking them. The person killed may be held in high regard by the killer.

    Sometimes there is a dispute or war – and things need to be done.

  • Sam Duncan

    … fight for a less lop-sided and unrealistic United Kingdom.

    So… abolish Holyrood and harmonize the legal systems, then? Sounds like a plan.

    The ones who stayed behind were not the best of the nation


  • Paul Marks

    Sam Duncan – as you may know….

    Before “devolution” (the setting up if a “government of Scotland”) both Scots Law and Scottish education were probably superior to law and education in England and Wales. This is no longer the case.

    Scottish education has been undermined by the new “government of Scotland” and even such ancient features of Scots Law such as the fixed limit on the number of a days someone could be held in prison before being brought to trial have, de facto, gone.

    What has happened in Scotland has been a terrible tragedy – “Devolution” has been a horrible failure.

    The same is true, although to a lesser extent, in Wales – where “Devolution” (passed by a very close referendum indeed) has led to great harm in such things as health care and in the general governance of Wales.

    Sadly the political culture of the United Kingdom appears to be very resistant to basic observation and reasoning – such as “we have done this, it has terrible results – let us reverse what we have done”.

    In British political culture an expansion of statism (say the creation of new governments in Scotland and Wales – but it could be anything) is called “Social Reform” or just “Reform” and is considered automatically a “Good Thing” regardless of the harm it does. This does not mean that harm is never corrected – both Prime Minister Churchill in the early 1950s and Prime Minister Thatcher in the 1980s corrected (rolled back – reversed) some harm done by previous governments (although only a relatively small amount of the harm done), but there is a very strong tendency in British political culture (including the history books and so on) to assume that “Social Reform”, i.e. increasing the spending and regulations of the state, is a “Good Thing” – without evidence or real argument.

    This has been true for a very long time – certainly as far back as the “Conservative” Prime Minister Disraeli (who despised real Conservatives such as Prime Minister Lord Liverpool) whose “Social Reform” is treated as automatically a “Good Thing” without evidence or reasoning – his spending schemes and regulations are a “Good Thing” because-they-are (that is the level of thought).

    Without a way of recognising and correcting (reversing) errors, a political culture is crippled.

  • Paul Marks

    Take the example of “High Speed 2” (HS2) – a demented railway scheme being pushed by the British establishment.

    As Jacob Rees-Mogg (a former government minister) and many others have pointed out – that ten Billion Pounds of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on a mad scheme is no reason to waste another Hundred Billion Pounds on a mad scheme – indeed this is a classic example of the “Sunk Costs Fallacy”, sometimes called “throwing good money after bad”.

    But it is not really the Sunk Costs Fallacy that opponents of HS2 are up against – HS2 has been identified as “Social Reform” and, therefore, in establishment British political culture is considered automatically a “Good Thing” (TM) regardless of evidence or reasoning.

    An establishment organ, such as the Economist magazine, may criticise how long the project is taking – but they will never oppose the project itself, for to do so would be to go against “Social Reform”.

    It is much the same with “Devolution” which is also identified as “Social Reform” or just “Reform” – because it leads to more statism (if it led to less statism it would not be “Social Reform” and the establishment would be against it rather than in favour of it).

    By the way – the Covid lockdowns were also seen, by establishment bodies such as SAGE, as a form of Social Reform.

  • Paul Marks

    Judging by their terrible performance, such bodies as the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Greater London Authority would be abolished.

    Tragically, due to our political culture, that is incredibly unlikely to happen – indeed we can expect more such demented bodies to be created in future, with establishment organs, such as the Economist magazine, cheering on the madness – because they know it will lead to more statism (“Social Reform” – or just “Reform”, i.e. more government spending, and more regulations – more control by the authorities of the lives of ordinary people).

  • Watcher in the dark

    Didn’t Scotland desperately want independence when North Sea oil was everything? Riches beyond belief, etc. But since our crackpot rulers want to ban the internal combustion engine on our roads and replace them all with milk floats (and bicycle delivery carts), maybe the SNP is hoping to find lithium deposits in the Grampian mountains to justify its present dreams.

    Either that or the EU has some impressive cash reserves to help them out.

  • Paul Marks

    A “less lop-sided” United Kingdom.

    Well the Scots per person do get a lot more government spending – but why would the SNP “fight” against that?

    As for a less “unrealistic” United Kingdom – what does that even mean?

    I know it is just a quote – but a quote that does not define its terms is not much use.

  • Mark

    @watcher in the dark

    “England expects Scotland’s oil”

    I do recall that slogan from 1974, although I’ve never been able to find an image of the associated poster anywhere.

    If there had been no oil in the northern north sea, there would be no SNP – apart from the fringe loonies that there had always been – end of.

    It was never about anything more elevated than two fingers to England. It still is, and it always will be.

    I strongly suspect that if the SNP were to win an independence neverendum, the last thing they would do would be to seek any sort of actual independence.

    Headless chickens would look like the mongol hordes by comparison. The cope, as they realise that they finally have to piss or get off the pot would be a joy to behold.

    It almost makes me wish they’d get a vote and win.

  • Paul Marks


    You are correct – the SNP does not support an independent Scotland, it wants Scotland to be part of the European Union. Only a cretin would hold that to be independence.

    As for “Scotland’s oil” – the Shetland islands were under Norway longer than they were part of the Kingdom of Scotland.

    I see no reason why the Shetland Islanders should share any oil tax money with people in Glasgow.

    If Scotland can break with London – then the Shetland Islands can break with Scotland.

  • If Scotland can break with London – then the Shetland Islands can break with Scotland.

    Indeed, if Scottish Independence looked in anyway likely then any decent unionist politician worth his salt (ha ha, but anyway) would say that any future IndyRef needs to take the Outer Hebrides question into consideration (i.e. parallel vote on Outer Hebridean secession from both the UK AND Scotland), ideally with the Outer Hebrides becoming a crown possession outside the UK (similar to Isle of Man and/or the Bailiwicks of Jersey/Guernsey).

    Divide those oil revenues per capita and that’s a lot of dosh for the Outer Hebrides that isn’t going to the demented porridge wogs of the SNP.

    Throw in a few army/navy/air force bases relocating from Scotland to each of the main islands of the Outer Hebrides (just in case the SNP fancies invading them), relocate the nuke submarine base at Faslane to Barra and it’d be a shoe in.

  • Fraser Orr

    It is always worth remembering history. We have to remember that the Scottish crown took over the English crown, not the other way around. And what did King James do when that happened? Well he buggered off to England. And what about 1707 Act of Union, uniting the governments? Well that was caused ultimately by England rescuing Scotland due to the utter failure of the Scottish economy. So shouldn’t we expect the same thing if we reverse the unions? All the top people flee to London, and the collapse of the Scottish economy?

    What are they going to do then? Declare the suzerainty of the Kings in Brussels and the Parliament in Strasbourg. I think that will go far worse for them than the English merger, and they will have no power to demand that they can keep their money or unique legal system, which will be subsumed under the Byzantium that is the Euro and European law. Not to worry though, I’m sure they’ll get to keep their own Kirk, which was the other big point of contention in the English merger.

  • How’s about declaring the SNP belt from Glasgow through Edinburgh to Dundee as new “Debatable Lands” / “Terra Nullius” outwith both Scotland / the UK and let the buggers figure it out for themselves.

    Shame about the non-SNP voters, but that would have been the same with Independence anyway.

    There was always going to be forced sales and a rush for the exits before the SNP trap shuts and Humza’s Wall gets rebuilt from Gretna to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

    Better to just tie up the SNiP’s and leave the rest of us in peace.

  • Mark

    @Paul Marks

    That’s right, and the one thing that an independent Scotland would have to handle is the profound differences within Scotland itself. Highlands vs lowland vs central belt (and I’m sure there are other divisions).

    A separate Scotland in the EU is pretty damned remote though as it would actually have to get genuine independence first. In that highly unlikely possibility though, I do wonder if Scotland would be a single “region” or whether it would be further subdivided.

    I really can’t see, given the extreme unlikelihood of actual independence, how the boil of the SNP can actually be lanced as the promised land of “free independence” (i.e. EU creature) will always be unrealized.