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Speaking of book covers ...

For no reason I understand, Ace decided to sit on the US cover of "The Rhesus Chart" for a while. But here it is, now (click for a larger version):

The Rhesus Chart cover

It's an interesting contrast with the British cover of the same book, isn't it?

Oh yeah: Amazon preorder here.

59 Comments

1:

I *love* the UK cover, but the American one is all right. :)

2:

The culture of cover design is radically different on opposite sides of the Atlantic, isn't it?

Covers exist primarily to make readers who are unfamiliar with the author pick up the product (when they see it displayed in a shop). As such, they're tuned to follow (a) local market preferences and (b) what the rest of the book designers think is fashionable this year -- as with all fashion trends it's good to be ahead of the pack, but not too far ahead, and bad to look old-fashioned.

US book covers generally look "garish" to a British reader's eye. They also tend to go more for representations of people, and less for figurative or abstract pieces. There are big exceptions, of course: the field's so broad that it's easy to over-generalize.

Also, in both the US and UK, my publishers standardized the covers of the Laundry Series a while ago. This Ace cover is therefore backwards-compatible with the trade paperback of "The Atrocity Archives" that came out in January 2006. The Orbit cover fits the rest of the British cover series but is a more recent design -- they came up with this scheme for "The Fuller Memorandum" (book 3) in mid-2010, then re-designed and re-released the first two books to match it earlier this year. So we're comparing a circa-2004 US design sensibility with a circa-2010 British design language.

Even so, the contrast is striking!

3:

PS: The reason for the insubstantial blog postings of late is that I am knee-deep in work. I just through-edited "Dark State" (Merchant Princes book 7, in the US series numbering) and today broke ground on "Black Sky", Merchant Princes book 8. Goal is to have a first draft baked some time in mid-January so I can send it to my editor in time for a face-to-face meeting in mid-February. As you can imagine, this is a higher priority than filling the blog right now ...

4:

Is that Bob? I always pictured him as a bit podgier.

5:

It's the same contrast as for all the other Laundry covers. Obviously Ace prefer a different style from your British publisher.

Personally, I like the UK covers better. Which is why I bought the UK ebook versions of the Laundry series over the past month or so, even it they each cost about 1.50 Euros more than their American counterparts, except for the special offer of the Atrocity Archives.

And checking with Amazon.de right now I discover that books 2-4 of the Orbit edition are each about 1 Euro cheaper than what I paid two or three weeks ago, which right now I don't know how to feel about. Damn you, free market!, I guess. To be honest, it's a little shocking for someone who has lived with the German Buchpreisbindung for their whole reading life.

6:

That's how an American artist (who worked on the first four books) visualizes Bob, not how I see him.

Also note that Bob is growing older by about one year per year of real time in the publishing schedule, at least up until "The Rhesus Chart". So he started out aged about 26-27 in "The Atrocity Archives" and is now about 38-39. Hence the greying hair.

(The next planned novel, "The Armageddon Score", overlaps with the end of "The Rhesus Chart" but will give Mo's side of the story. It won't be able to work its way through the publishers' pipeline until it's set in the recent past -- 1-2 years ago -- of the alternate world in which the Laundry is for real. And thereafter they're going to diverge rapidly from what we know.)

7:

Didn't Jim Baen famously say that the awfulness of his covers was directly correlated with the sales of his books?

I know it worked for me. Half of my Baen books are kept hidden in case my friends might see them, but on the other hand, I have a lot of Baen books.

8:

But it's not out for almost a yeeeeeeaar why must you taunt us like thiiis.

I like the cover, then again I like to read comic books. The other one's nice but it kind of looks like a busy logo. But I understand the more abstract --> More elegant gradient.

9:

I just had my best, most productive writing year since 2003 (from September 15th 2012 to September 14th 2013).

I averaged 1000 words per day; it was hard work, and I can't do that every year. (I was bitten by a happy accident.)

A typical reader can read 1000 words in 3 minutes.

10:

Ooh, looking forward to seeing the Laundry universe through a new (to the reader) pair of eyes.

11:

If it helps, the cover is also garish to this American reader's eyes.

12:

Tentative plan for Book 7 is that you'll see the Laundry universe through an even newer set of eyes -- Alex. Who you haven't met yet (he first shows up in "The Rhesus Chart".)

13:

The culture of cover design is radically different on opposite sides of the Atlantic, isn't it?

Exactly my thought when I compared the covers. For much the same reasons as the ones you give.

Covers don't exist to *represent* the book, they exist to *sell* the book.

One might get a cover that represents the book, but that's because by happy chance the goals overlap. When they differ, selling always takes precedence.

So I can understand the US cover, even if it's not quite to my taste, and I suspect it will do its job well and make the book sell.

As for the UK cover, am I right in thinking - especially given they first came up with this design style for the Fuller Memorandum - that Orbit chose that design with an eye on the crossover market, selling it to crime readers as well as to sf readers?

14:

Stop teasing us like that!

15:

"I averaged 1000 words per day; it was hard work, and I can't do that every year. (I was bitten by a happy accident.)

A typical reader can read 1000 words in 3 minutes"

Ouch. This makes me want to read more slowly and carefully. At the very least, I promise to re-read the books several times.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across the paperback of "The Family Trade" while cleaning out my office (an annual ritual; I didn't get canned, and it's MY office in my establishment...). I started reading that evening, and promptly went through all six books. You can't read just one...

16:

I 1st saw the R in Rhesus as an A. Poor font choice IMO :-(

17:

As I said when the US trade edtion of "The Jennifer Morgue" came out: Nice and Pulpy. A pulp-era style of cover works for some things, and I think they do for the Laundry books. Though I have to admit that the US trade cover of "The Atroctiy Archives", with the cubicles, was a slight turn-off, but glad I read it. The new UK cover are very nice too, a definite improvement over the older ones. If I were just starting to read them, and both were available it would be a difficult choice which to buy.

18:

Also note that Bob is growing older by about one year per year of real time in the publishing schedule, at least up until "The Rhesus Chart". So he started out aged about 26-27 in "The Atrocity Archives" and is now about 38-39.

I find the Laundry books quite amusing, because I was about 26-27 at the time "The Atrocity Archives" is set.

Also, yesterday I finished the Jennifer Morgue. As I'm also now studying advanced computer security techniques at work, the hacking of Billingtons' computer systems made me happy.

I'm still happy I don't live in the Laundryverse, though.

19:

Well, the British cover is certainly, ah, distictive. The USian cover I think better represents the Snivil (sic) Service, spy, and non-existant aspects the series in general, and this book in particular.

20:

Yes, I've worked in animation, 12 drawings to one second of movement.

The way to rationalize the disparity is to consider the audience as a whole, so one hour of your work still translates to hundreds or thousands of man hours of reader time, collectively.

21:

Here's a US/UK comparison of books up for a literary prize. The differences here are much less 'obvious' or easy to categorize. No prevalence of human figures in the US versions, for example.

http://www.themillions.com/2010/03/judging-books-by-their-covers-u-s-vs-u-k.html
http://www.themillions.com/2011/02/judging-books-by-their-covers-u-s-vs-u-k-2.html

I postulate that the contrast is more highly developed in the SF/Fantasy field. To me, US fantasy book covers are [typically] dreadful, to the extent I'm embarrassed to be seen with one in some situations. A far-from-unusual example:

UK (Nice): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Chaos-Wheel-Robert-Jordan-ebook/dp/B002VCR0H6/ref=sr_1_1
US (Mills & Boon): http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Chaos-Wheel-Time-Book/dp/0812513754/ref=sr_1_9

22:

If you run that multiplier, then assuming 80,000 readers per book (12K for US hardcover, 20K for US mmpb, 30K for US ebook, 2K for UK hardcover, 8K for UK paper, 10K for UK ebook) I get a good multiplier -- 180 person-days of entertainment generated per day of work I put in.

It is, however, chopped up rather fine from the point of view of individual readers!

23:

Interesting to see people expressing a preference for the UK cover - to my eyes, coming from an Arts/Museum/Visual Cultures background, it seems like quite a weak design. The US cover, whilst not perfect, seems a preferable option.

I would think that most young graphic designers are going into the web-world, and using CSS effects to liberate huge piles of money. The only areas where book design seems to be moving forward are graphic novels and small press. More mainstream books, like this series (which I enjoy immensely) seem to be bound by the diktat of managerial culture.

24:

All yon need to sell me Charlie's work is to print "Charles Stross &NL $TITLE" legibly on the front and spine!

25:

I like the abstract UK cover, but then I like the US Mark Fredrickson covers as illustrations, also. Of course, either is better than the US cover for Neptune's Brood. (Or Saturn's Children come to that.)

26:

It gets worse in comics. A good script I could bang out in a day or two, assuming the ideas and jokes were flowing. Took the artist roughly 8 hours per page, hand-drawn and inked, scanned into the computer for touch-ups and lettering. If a reader was chewing slowly and savoring, they might take as long as a minute per page.

It's a bit unsettling to see how much time goes into the creation and how little time goes into the consumption.

27:

That's not an entirely fair comparison; I will read a good comic several times, and sometimes stop to just look at an illustration for several minutes.

28:

How *do* you see Bob, Charlie?
I listen to the Laundry novels on Audio, so the way I imagine him is influenced by the narrator's voice, and for some reason it reminded me of Jimmy Carr and this is how I see Bob now.

29:

You need (and Charlie if he hasn't seen it) to read the full write up of the stuxnet stack to kill a centrifuge http://www.langner.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/To-kill-a-centrifuge.pdf

When they start talking abotu needing to build a technical copy of a cascade (compleat with the kludges the Iranians used)and run it with real fuel to be able to develop it - is a real FMH moment (to borrow a scientific civil service term).

30:

Yeah he looks a bit to like a junior bank clerk in that one for my taste or maybe thats what Americans think British civil servants dress like - presumably Angleton would have a bowler hat.

That's the problem with figurative covers we all have our own ideas of what the characters look like.

31:

Peter Watts seems to have a pretty good run of figurative yet awesome looking covers.

32:

Hmm, I couldn't really say that either of them would sell me on the book. Of the two the UK is better, but ...

The US one looks very 'pulp' like - looks like low quality 50s stuff and in no way says 'vampire', 'crime' or even 'civil service'. I think it's one of those cases where many amateurs could do better. Putting a representation of the protagonist on the cover has never seemed a sensible move to me (unless it's female and buxom) since the reader has their own idea of what they look like (usually a projection of themselves). It seems to be one of those rules of thumb that aren't related to reality any more.

The UK cover, in comparison, is very abstract and both doesn't give much idea of what the book is about, or particularly entice the new reader. It's kind of the book cover equivalent of a 'swoosh' in branding - a lazy, one size fits all, no brainpower expended, effort.

Given the shift over to eBooks, particularly in the SF market, neither seem particularly attuned to the requirements of something that's going to do most of it's work as little more than an icon. Big, bold, striking and immediately understandable seems to be the best approach there - maybe with finer detail and a more intricate story for viewing a larger sizes, rewarding closer examination. In my own eBook collection, Iain M Banks 'Surface Detail' seems to always stand out as I'm scrolling past - the eyes have it.

33:

I like the American cover. It looks a little less serious than the British one, which is I think appropriate given this isn't Charlie's technothriller or hard sci-fi series. Has the feel of a Buffy comic to it, which is exactly where you want to be if you're selling a vampire parody novel to an American audience, really. And there's something a little bit fun about it, which is what I'm in the mood for when I go to pick up a Laundry book.

(By contrast, I much prefer the abstract British cover on the Merchant Prince re-release, given the content of those novels.)

34:

Since we are talking about covers on printed works of err ... fiction ...
If you want a really sick laugh TRY THIS
A taradiddle of delusion and overblown self-aggrandisement of unbelievable proportions.

[ Warning - Flame Bait! ]

35:

The story I recall is that the Saturn's Children cover was produced with a custom CGI model, which suggests the art director might have been trying for the ultimate gorgeous robot. It doesn't quite work, as the design seems to echo all the usual CGI weaknesses of pictures of women, including skin-tight clothing which really is painted on.

There's nothing to hint that this is a specially humanoid robot in a world of obvious robots.

In the end, it's not a bad cover, but it is not the right cover for the book. Still, it could be worse. Think of the pulp covers which used a beautiful woman threatened by a robot. They even used the image of a robot carrying away a woman on the movie poster for Forbidden Planet. And it isn't the usual sort of rather strained female pose which you see in cover art.

I don't know how commonplace it is today, but around thirty years ago I recall several instances of the same art on different books in different markets. Maybe there's a book out there which that cover would be ideal for.

36:

Malformed link, Greg.

37:

Arrrgh!
Trying AGAIN
Is that better?
(or worse, given the subject .... )

38:

Greg,

You are really trying to stir things up with that, and your description. It's the White Paper on Scottish Independence, and it might be a load of crap. But, considering what the Conservatives have lied about, and the promises they have made, broken, and covered up, I'd be hard pushed to choose between them.

By posting that in this thread, you're showing yourself to be a bit of an idiot.

I shall let Charlie decide whether he wants to cover the issue in his blog. Those of us in Scotland can make a choice. The rest of us have to wait until May 2015. And then there's the EU referendum.

I already know which way I would vote. It would take something at the level of Satanic Ritual Abuse, with live video, to make me change my mind.

So don't waste time playing silly beggars, OK.

39:

Arrrgh! Trying AGAIN Is that better?

Not very, I'm afraid. You have a functional hyperlink this time, but the page it goes to does not have any cover art. I suggest using the 'Preview' option before 'Submit' so that you can test these beforehand.

40:

FWIW, I live in Scotland and I get to vote.

I am not enthusiastic about the possibility of Scottish independence. However:

There's a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) coming out of Westminster about all the hideous things that can go wrong for an independent Scotland. So I think, as they're inflicting wild-ass worst case scenarios on us (what, we won't be able to watch Dr Who? Really, this is (a) possible and (b) an important political point?), it's worth also considering the worst-case scenario for Scotland staying in the union.

Here's the worst case if Scotland votes no to independence:

* David Cameron has already ruled out Devo Max, so we stick with the status quo wrt. devolved powers. However, the Conservatives use it as an excuse to renegotiate the Barnett Formula, cutting Scotland's share of public spending (they've wanted to do this for ages, but felt their hands were tied).

* The scheduled UK-wide referendum on membership of the EU votes for the UK to leave the EU.

* And the next General Election produces a UKIP-Conservative coalition.

In this scenario, Scotland is out of the EU (something which I personally think would be disastrous for the country).

Then there is a hideous Depression. UK withdrawal from the EU would cost us a fuckton of trade treaties, cause the migration of much of the financial sector to Frankfurt, cause the Commonwealth countries to ditch the UK -- they only need us for easy access to EU markets -- and bring about a rain of boiling frogs and probably a 10-20% contraction of the economy in 1-2 years. The writing's on the wall, and clear to those with eyes to read: we've even had the CEO of Toyota politely (he's Japanese) saying they'd reconsider future investment in the UK if the UK left the EU. (Which is polite business Japanese for "fuck, EJECT! EJECT NOW!")

This Depression would be presided over by a toxic alliance between the asset-stripping Austerity Conservatives, and their quasi-racist hard-right partners. And of course the latter have a manifesto commitment to rolling back devolution because UKIP is basically non-existent in Scotland (they're a party of the South).

And without EU passports we won't even be able to emigrate.

So, in the spirit of the "Better Together" campaign's demands for proof positive on the part of the "Yes" campaign -- can you prove that this isn't going to happen if we vote to stay in the UK?

41:

Speaking from the English side of the border what really bothers me (from a slightly selfish perspective) is that Charlie's nightmare scenario A) doesn't look all that unlikely and B) looks an awful lot more likely in the aftermath of a lurch to the right in what will then largely be English rather than British politics following Scottish independence.

Whatever happens to/in an independent Scotland I can't help thinking that the political landscape of the "rump" UK left behind is not going to be pretty and for that reason alone (the rest of it by-and-large really isn't my business) I'm kind of hoping for a No vote...

42:

What we really need is a referendum on expelling the City of London from the UK.

Build a wall around them, rename them "Singapore on Thames", and then try and figure out how to reboot the other 99.8% of the UK as a devolved federal republic with an economy that is smaller and poorer but no longer in thrall to the interests of the hyper-rich.

43:

Charlie (& others)
Just because Camoron [ Who is almost as despised a Blair, in my book, by now ] has ruled out Devo-Max, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The man is a serial lair, as well as consistent as Baron Münchausen, to boot.
EU – a lot of “Old Labour” voters are coming to loathe the EU – there is the Wedgie Benn case anti-EU - & it’s beginning to look as if he was correct, much as it pains me to say it – it’s become a big-corporate greedy club, encouraging low wages & big business, at the expense of the “little man” in all his ( & her) forms.
“better together” – possibly correct, but ONE battle at a time, please?

Conversely, it is virtually certain that IF Scotland votes “out” then it’ll be bankrupt in less than 6 months. NO currency of its own & not in the EU.

”It’s the economy, stupid”, to quote, someone or other!

JayGee
I am no lover of the Labour Party, indeed of any political party, but Scotland in the UK has kept the extreme right of the tories out of power [ Except during the Thatcher years of course ] - for which we should all be grateful, so I have a vested interest in Scotland voting “NO”.

... err & Charlie @ 42
No
"The City" has other uses ...
So, when so-called "Green Party" reps call here, my response is ... "Oh, so you are the fuckwits who want Epping Forest concreted over, are you?"
And, it keeps a lot of us in employment, too!
Not just the hyper-rich, whose numbers are really tiny ... though there is too much of the tail wagging the dog.
There should be a middle way.

44:

Conversely, it is virtually certain that IF Scotland votes “out” then it’ll be bankrupt in less than 6 months. NO currency of its own & not in the EU.

It's also possible that monkeys will fly out of my arse.

Firstly, the Spanish PM's statements on Scottish EU membership should be read in the context of his opposition to a precedent that might encourage Basque pressure for independence. (If Scotland votes for independence, I expect him to do a U-turn so fast his eyeballs fall out.)

Secondly, on the subject of currency, what happens to the national debt if Scotland votes for independence? You might not have noticed this, but the SNP have asserted a defensive position to Tory threats of excluding Scotland from Sterling -- namely, if we don't stay in the currency, we don't accept any share of the Sterling zone's national debt, either. Just how this will play out is an interesting question ... but it looks like a plausible poison pill to me.

Finally, as for the Scottish economy, you probably haven't been paying attention to the energy situation. Scotland is on course to be a net exporter of electricity by 2020 -- from carbon-neutral sources. Scotland is actually a world leader in renewables and is rolling out power generation infrastructure at a ridiculous rate. While the North Sea oil is dwindling, Scotland will likely remain an energy exporter for the foreseeable future.

My real worry is that people generally get more conservative and defensive in bad times. We have a government down south who are promising decades of austerity, provoking a vicious cycle of more conservative social drift, slower growth, and more austerity. And the Tories are very close to entering into a race to the right with UKIP.

I think it's likely that by 2020, English politics will be dominated by parties with platforms that are barely distinguishable from the BNP in the 1990s -- Nazi-Lite, basically. And that's not a country I want to be part of.

45:

Para 2 - I think Catalonian rather than just Basque, but otherwise agreed.

Para 3 et seq - Agreed, rather depressingly.

Biggest concern being that right now out my office indows I can see 4 wind turbines which are generating 0 of 7MW possible load.

46:

Can I say "Oh Fuck!" in this blog?

Scots Referendum.

EU Referendum (which might get pushed to before the General Election by a Tory faction)

General Election.

Cameron building up the fear of "migrants" and the EU, on some pretty flimsy evidence.

I've been reading too much history of the 1920s and 1930s in the last few years, and this all looks very familiar. And this time we have the questionable policy choice to build new ballistic missile subs (which are currently based in Scotland) when the sort of threat these weapons were devised to meet has been dead for some twenty years.

There are people in the Conservative Party who I can imagine having a fun conversation with, for as long as we avoid political subjects. But didn't one of those Mitford girls say that Hitler was a fun conversationalist (and one of her sisters preferred Elvis Presley)?

I see the necessity of politics, but the number of blatant lies which are passing for political debate is sickening. On the question of Independence, there are some sensible questions being asked by the anti-faction, but they are a rhetorical trick to let them insert their lies into the debate.

(As for Spain, there are also rumblings in Catalonia...)

The really scary thought is that Cameron wants Scottish Independence because he thinks it means he will never lose an Election. Well, he hasn't won one yet.

47:

Since we seem to have tacitly accepted the sidetrack...

"Secondly, on the subject of currency, what happens to the national debt if Scotland votes for independence? You might not have noticed this, but the SNP have asserted a defensive position to Tory threats of excluding Scotland from Sterling -- namely, if we don't stay in the currency, we don't accept any share of the Sterling zone's national debt, either. Just how this will play out is an interesting question ... "

That raises an interesting question. If Scotland votes for independence, Westminster accepts it in principal (and given the acceptance of a binding referendum that's a given), but the parties can't agree terms (say on retention of Sterling and/or accepting a share of the UK National debt) what happens?

UDI for Scotland with Scots issued passports not recognised in the UK and sanctions imposed by Westminster??

That would be an unholy mess which hopefully makes use of the (figurative) Nuclear option by either party unlikely...

48:

Charlie @ 44 (etc)
[ I note that my comment & the retraction re the RC have disappeared - probably a good idea, though I may note that: "masquerading as pope Francis" is a direct quote from the National Secular Society, & as a wind-up from them, it's good. ]

On the main subject ...
Charlie is in Dun-Ei-dinn / Edin's-Burgh, I'm in Londinium, & it shows - we are both "out of touch" - one reason I brought the subject up.
Yes, Cameron is horrible, if only because he is so incompetent, but Scots' independance would be worse, for us, in England, for reasons given above. Contrariwise, Charlie's comments on "the City" are so far off-base as to be laughable, except that a lot of people believe it.
Look, apart from a a brief period in the middle if the 19thC, Engl;and has been driven & prospered from London, it's certainly been that way since the days of EdwardIV, & it is merely a reversion to what we've always done.
Remember, too that "The Corporation" have deposed both a King & a republican dictator, when pushed far enough.
You also have to remember, that up until about 1900, Lonoon was also a major manufacturing centre. And even that seems to be reviving, in the hi-tech & software industries, both in London & the surrounding areas.
Yes, there are unpleasant distortions, which, thanks to modern comms & "openness" we can see more clearly than before, but there's nothing new here, either.
After all, why did my penniless Huguenot ancestors come to London, & most remained in Bethnal Green & Spitalfields until about 1905? Right.
That was where the money & jobs were.

"Migrants"
The basic problem is, of course, we have too many people, total, in the UK, &, of also cheap immigration is encouraged by the very people Charlie & I both despise - the ultra-rich corporate exploiters of cheap labour.
Yes, OF COURSE "the immigants work harder than the English" - & why might that be? Because they don't realise that we do have minimum-wage-laws & terms & conditions & "the rules" & are much easier to exploit ... the SS Empire WIndrush was not the first, nor the last case of this ...
Their attitude seems to be: "Oh we can't get native (English) people to do the dirty, low-paid menial jobs for crap wages & shite conditions, so lets' import some gullible foreigners, (Skin-colour totally irrelevant, actually) who don't know any better." Thus fuelling the "race to the bottom".
This really has got to stop, but how?

Charlie's last sentence: I think it's likely that by 2020, English politics will be dominated by parties with platforms that are barely distinguishable from the BNP in the 1990s -- Nazi-Lite, basically. And that's not a country I want to be part of. Well, I'm to Charlie's right, politically (even though I'm an ex-Lem-o-Crat), but I don't either.
I think you have fallen for the "UKIP are right-wing-loonies" trope ... if that's so, why do so many "old Labour" voters seem to be toying with UKIP ideas?
Possibly because the NuLiebour party has betrayed them, in the same way that the tories have abandoned the ideals of Butler & MacMillan, of my youth?

Possibly because all three main parties, as regards their organisation & leaderships (so-called) are rotten right through ( Which explains ScotsNats' popularity, too, in spite of their really unpleasnt nanny tendencies? )
There are honorable exceptions.
Tom Watson, Stella Creasey (My MP) .. but when a tory right-winger like Douglas Carswell, writes, lamenting in the Torygraph, that something is amiss, bacause we have Swedish tax-&-spend levels & Texan-quality healthcare, & this "ain't right", you know something is amiss.

What is to be done?

49:

I don't have much to add to the Scots independence discussion, but slightly relating to Charlie's concern about possible growing conservatism:

I was wondering--not too seriously*--if an independent Scotland would have a Law of Return, allowing people with Scottish ancestry to claim citizenship.

But thinking about it, I realized that would be a disaster for Scotland. You'd be flooded with Right-Wing American Highlander wannabes (aka rednecks, who think "Braveheart" is a documentary), and would drag the new nation down.

*though waiting for the next US presidential election...

50:

But thinking about it, I realized that would be a disaster for Scotland. You'd be flooded with Right-Wing American Highlander wannabes (aka rednecks, who think "Braveheart" is a documentary), and would drag the new nation down.

I'm not worried about that. They'd get here and receive a rude awakening, just like Jerry Falwell. (You know you're unpopular when you get the Church of Scotland and Stonewall UK lining up on the same side of the barricades against you.) They'll arrive, discover that everyone they meet is some kind of communist, take one look at the tax bill, shriek, and run away.

And you have to admire how Wee 'Eck, aka First Minister Alex Salmond, has played Donald Trump for a chump ...

51:

I have the urge to check, but do you mean that Carswell is correct in thinking that we have Swedish levels of tax and Texan levels of healthcare? Because we quite blatantly have neither.
And if anything, the reason the tax burden falls on the middle classes so much more than it used to is because the owning class hides all their money abroad and the corporations mostly refuse to pay tax by using cunning accounting.

I don't see that an independent Scotland would need or have a 'right of return', because given their approach to demographics, the SNP would let anyone in anyway, so if Americans want to move to SCotland, that's fine. THen as CHarlie says, they'd find out that things have changed since 1745, and that they don't like it here.

52:

Jerry Falwell. (You know you're unpopular when you get the Church of Scotland and Stonewall UK lining up on the same side of the barricades against you.)

I'm guessing that's like the KKK protesting Westboro Baptist at Arlington Cemetery a few years ago?

I'm sure I haven't mentioned that my father grew up in Lynchburg Virginia, home of the late Falwell's church. My uncle, returned and lived there the rest of his life once told of going to the church. He said that everything was focused on the broadcast, and when it came time to pass the plate (and he thought it was a good time to go), the doors were locked--from the outside.


I seem to remember you once suggesting that The Clearances seemed to have removed some of the more violent/conservative elements from Scotland, sending them to the colonies. Which, at the time, reminded me of being in Scotland several years ago with my father, and he complaining about the liberals in America, while I and whoever he was chatting with tried not let him see our eyes rolling.

53:

"I think you have fallen for the "UKIP are right-wing-loonies" trope ... if that's so, why do so many "old Labour" voters seem to be toying with UKIP ideas?"

My own perception of UKIP as the party of "I'm-not-a-racist-but-ism" is based on correspondence in my local newspaper from those purporting to speak for the party, conversations with people manning stalls on the street, and election material which has come through my door.

At the very least UKIP need to be more selective of and keep a tighter leash on their local activists. In the meantime people coming to them from from elewhere or getting involved with a political party for the first time need to take a long hard look at who they're getting into bed with on a local level because (locally to me anyway) there undoubtedly are a disturbing number of dubious people making themselves visible under the UKIP banner. If the party at large aren't willing to dissociate themselves from them and their views I can only assume that they tacitly endorse them...

54:

Charlie,

You seem to be buying into the SNP idea that they get to determine terms of any 'independence' - that they will or will not 'accept' debt.

The reality is this referendum only worth anything because Westminster says it does - and similarly with ANY terms of 'independence'. Therefore if Westminster says scotland has £100bn of debt, that's what it has. They could rant and rave, maybe take the UK to the EU courts (good luck if the EU referendum goes the expected way), but they would be stuck with that debt, and the repayments, for a minimum of 5 years. Repudiate it and kiss goodbye to ANY borrowing.

The unreality on the issue is staggering. It would be a d*i*v*o*r*c*e, and there's no chance it would be nice and pretty - you shouldn't expect it to be so.

The only winner out of this is Cameron. He can't lose the way things are - 'yes' or 'no'. You can bet that if things were to turn around the the vote were to go 'yes', he would dump so much manure onto the terms that scotland would have no chance to survive as an independent entity.

If you slag him off as a bastard now, why the hell would you expect him to be any less when he had no reason to be magnanimous?

55:

guthrie @ 51
Original article Right here See for yourself!

56:

It would be a d*i*v*o*r*c*e,

So remind me again how the Czech republic shafted Slovakia?

There are plenty of precedents for "no-fault" divorces between nations.

...

But what I'm actually hoping for is that a "yes" vote gives Salmond the ammo he needs to walk it back from full on independence to devo max.

Devo max was explicitly ruled off the ballot by Cameron -- possibly a good thing from his point of view, because before that happened it was going to win outright over the other two options (full independence, or status quo). Devo max is popular in Scotland. Meanwhile, Cameron recently said that in event of a "no" vote Scotland would receive no further devolved powers -- in other words, he's opposed to devo max under any circumstances.

Devo max in the wake of a "yes" vote that just scraped past the post would be a face saver for both sides. Cameron could spin it as saving the union, while Salmond could spin it as having his cake and eating it -- after all, who needs the headaches of running their own military and foreign policy?

And in a broader context, it's all about renegotiating the Barnett Formula and the East Lothian Question anyway ...

57:

SHeesh, I hope you didn't take that article seriously. Just in the first sentences, he omits to mention that fiddling statistics is carried out by private operations too, and that the drive to fiddle stats comes from the managerialism imported from the private sector...
And charter schools in the USA get to dump all the pupils who they think will lower test results, so of course they get better grades. And the 48% spending peak is not 48% spent on booze and fags for indigent losers, but because of bailing out the banks and trying to keep the economy going; the actual moneys spent on pensions and healthcare etc are way less than 48% of GDP. Meanwhile there has been an improvement in the NHS over the last generation, anyone who says there hasn't been is a moron. At the same time, lots of money has been wasted by PFI, privatisation etc, both, oddly enough, right wing ideas.
And the railways are better now, thanks to all the subsidies we have been giving them, I'd like to know how well they would have done investment wise without them.

I think he's generally right about power concentrated in the prime minister and the need for more parliamentary answers. But that would work best with changes in the parties themselves so that awkward bastards actually get elected rather than shoved aside by shiny people parachuted in from central office, which I understand all main parties do.

58:

But Charlie, you seem to be missing why devo max was ruled out - Cameron didn't want it. As far as he's concerned he either wants the independence push totally rejected; or he wants to push scotland out, and the Labour MPs, in such a way that scotland collapses, and have to come crawling back.

If the independence vote is yes, Cameron will move to kick out scotland as fast as possible, and with terms imposed that makes a mess of any hope of success. The SNP won't have control of any of that.

Personally I think the only reason he agreed to convert the fake referendum into a real one was because he saw that the SNP was delusional, hadn't done the hard graft to get their ducks in a row (particularly with the EU), and thus were ready to be plucked.

To guess, I'd suggest he would rush an EU referendum prior to, or at, the election - and if he got an 'out' vote pull the UK out prior to any split. The SNP are already very very likely to have to reapply and accept the euro, oversight, etc. - if the UK leaves, and scotland with it, it's a certainty.

Look at the dates:
Referendum : 18 Sept 2014
Next UK Election : 7 May 2015
SNP proposed independence date : 24 March 2016

So kick out any scottish MPs prior to May 2015, then call the EU referendum of the UK at, or about, the election, and leave prior to March 2016 (actually let's sync the date with the FY). The EU referendum and the election wouldn't have any scottish voting, of course, since they would have excluded themselves already.

When the SNP finally gets the keys - it's to a fait accompli of whatever terms Cameron wants to impose, and the really of no EU membership.

59:

Regarding an in/out EU referendum - & remembering that I, too used to regard anti-EU people as delusional - but now I've joined them ...
See this article
Health warning: Hannan is right-wing tory Euro MP.
BUT - look at the list of objections he lists to the EU, never mind the one that has got him exited in the article.
FYI, the reason I have joined the "out" camp?
This bit, from Hanna's list: ...the way that multi-nationals and NGOs and all manner of corporate interests are privileged over consumers. It’s not the pettifogging rules ...
Basically, the warning that Wedgie Benn gave, back in the 70's.
That one such as I should admit that Benn was probably correct, is real turn-around.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 25, 2013 7:44 PM.

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