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The morning after

So: the referendum is over and the count is underway. I'm about to go to bed; when I wake up there should be a result. The final YouGov opinion poll today (not an exit poll) gave No a 54/46 lead, but earlier polls suggest the outcome is within the margin of error; I'd be very surprised if that final poll reflects the final count. In Edinburgh, the turnout was around 89.7% of the electorate, with voter registration running at 97% overall and more than 95% of postal ballots returned.

One thing is sure: even a "no" victory won't kill the core issue of the delegitimization of the political elite. (It has become not simply a referendum on independence, but a vote of confidence on the way the UK is governed; anything short of a huge "no" victory amounts to a stinging rebuke to the ruling parties of the beige dictatorship.) With that level of voter engagement we're seeing, and turn-out—probably setting a new record for the highest turnout in a British election—the number of "yes" votes is likely to exceed the number that would normally secure a landslide victory for the winning party in a general election: this will have serious repercussions in the long term. In event of a "yes" vote, negotiations will open over the terms of separation, and in event of a "no" vote, well ... promises were made by the "no" campaign in the last week that amounted to a major concession on Devo Max: will the Westminster parties keep those promises in the wake of a "no" vote on independence?

Anyway: I'm not staying up for the count. (I'm tired, boringly middle-aged, and the count will happen whether or not I'm glued to the internet feeds into the early hours.) Instead, I'll update this blog entry when there's a result tomorrow ... and in the meantime, open the discussion comments for a single question:

What comes next?

UPDATE: Final results: Yes, 44.7%, No, 55.3%, Turnout: 84.5% (setting an all-time record for a UK election—voting is not compulsory, and at the last UK general election, in 2010, the turnout was 65.1%).

UPDATE 2: First Minister Alex Salmond has resigned. (NB: it'll be utterly astonishing if his successor is anyone other than Nicola Sturgeon.)



What comes next? Cameron's resignation, if the world is as it should be.



I hope you and scotland dodged the bullet and follow the exit polls in voting 'no'. I fear that a yes vote would open a world of pain on scotland, probably resulting in husk of a country, once Cameron had finished with it. A no vote is a better way and I'll be following the voting (daytime here).

However, the whole thing has bought something important into sharp relief - nobody likes or wants ANY of the muppets currently infesting Westminster. People from scotland, wales, northern england, the west country, the midlands, and even much of the south think they are useless, corrupt and self-serving.

The time is probably now, using the energy and interest generated from this referendum to get replacement representation organised and to push the lot of 'them' from power - after all, there is an election next year where EVERYONE votes.

Will real change get pushed forward, or will we sink back into the same negative political dance? I feel the reason for UKIP is the failure of the same old politics and the lack of any forward-looking vision. The UK, hell, most of the rest of the world needs that - and we aren't going to get it as long as pol sci majors, lawyers and economists are setting the agenda.

Here's hoping that "what comes next" is real change and focusing on the future instead of muddling through on echoes of the past.


Allow this cynic to answer one of your questions: no, they will not keep their promises.


Staying up to watch the counts! (Context: I'm a 20-something Canadian expat writing software (ex-RIM employee, lulz) for a company in London, I have no pony in this race.)

As I hadn't heard of Salmond before OGH mentioned the referendum a year or more ago, can anyone suggest whether or not he is also a member of the political elite? My cynical assumption is that he is set to financially gain from independence and is little different from the Other Beige Dictators. Are the Scots confident that they can get rid of him if necessary after independence?


Although I enjoy the drama, it is hard to see how this will be substantively important at any level. You're voting to transition from one liberal Western democratic country with a First World capitalistic economy to another, likely somewhat more socialistic liberal Western democratic country with a First World capitalistic economy. I can't help but click my mouse every once in a while when I see a story about what idiocy Lindsay Lohan has been up to lately, but it affects absolutely nothing. Maybe it's a slight reach for an analogy, but not by much. But great drama. Good story. Good show.


I have to say, as an Australian, I found it absolutely adorable that some media outlet was describing an ~89% turnout in Edinburgh as ‘huge’ on Twitter.


As an American, I can only look at the participation numbers and shake my head. No matter which way it turns out, today, Scotland was united in plotting its destiny. William Wallace's ghost is probably dancing a jib on his grave.


What's terrifying to me is that there is literally no party I could vote for if I still lived in England. A vote for the Greens is wasted outside of Brighton and I'm not stupid enough to think that a protest vote to the Kippers would help in any way. There seems no route to any productive expression of dissatisfaction.

Instead, I'm lucky enough to live in a nation with proportional representation and an election tomorrow, so if a party here gets 15% of the votes, they get 15% of the seats.

And as I'm on the other side of the planet, I'm awake for the entire duration of the (very boring) count. Luckily, the Scottish result should arrive at pub o'clock.


Good luck Scotland!

I mean that sincerely. Regardless of the result, this is not the last of it; I expect the consequences to play out over the coming years.

Meanwhile, I have cast my vote early (the official election day is tomorrow) in what has been the craziest electoral campaign I can remember in New Zealand. And elsewhere in the Pacific this week, Fiji has had its first vote in eight years. Democracy, for all its faults, is to be valued.


Comments on the previous thread expressed surprise and doubt that 10% were still undecided. But over on, with a couple dozen Scottish posters, several expressed wavering even as they went to the ballots, even posters who'd been vocal in arguing about (mostly for) independence. For some, it's down to a heart vs. head thing: emotionally really wanting independence, but fearing that the warnings of playing dice with the economy and other problems are accurate. Others might be torn heart vs. heart, feeling both Scottish and British.

If I were Scottish, I think I might be undecided as well. Better national democracy vs. economic roulette and creating new borders/becoming part of a much smaller country.

A big question for the result will be how many people who said 'Yes' to pollsters will chicken out at the actual vote. (Or vice versa, but I suspect this affects Yes more than No respondents.)


I'll just expand on something I've said in some past political threads here:

I do real, winning-and-losing-elections, ministers-in-government politics (I'm an LD, but a lot of what I'm about to say applies to the other parties as well). Many if not most of our politicians would tend to agree with the sentiments you've expressed here. Some of the people that get named and complained about here agree with them - in private.

Then they have to go out and act in the way you object to, not because they want to, but because we've established through long, hard-fought years of campaigning, that this is what the UK voters will vote for. None of us are very happy about this. To borrow a quote: "This is the trouble with the public, they're fucking horrible!"

We can go out and be up front with people about what's going to happen after the election, the limited resources and influence that we have available, and how we can't actually give everybody all of the things that they want. Moreover, because we fight upwards of 600 elections every five years, and don't usually win more than 50 of them, we routinely experiment with this. The voters hate it; you get a handful of letters about how great it is to see somebody who tells it like it is, and you lose your deposit. To win an election outside a safe seat, you have to either lie to everybody that everything is going to be great, or spearhead a hate campaign against a convenient target.

When you do get into government, no matter what you do, a large chunk of the public are going to hate you. This is partly because you can't give everybody everything that they want, but largely because you are now the #1 target and everybody will line up to take a shot. Nobody will ever say "our government isn't all that bad", because that's not "cool" and "anti-establishment" enough - in fact, the only positive messages will come out of the party machines, which is why we need to have them.

Without exception, every UK government in the past few decades has ended when the accumulated hate exceeded the size of their base of support. Faced with this unconditional loathing, everybody in government has to make a choice: do the best they can to pursue what they believe in, knowing that it will be unbelievably difficult and then most people will never acknowledge what they accomplish, or decide that if nobody else cares then you don't need to either and just ride it out in style.

You don't need to "send a message" to the "Westminster elite" about the problems with politics. They all know what the problems are. If we could change it then we would, because most of us desperately want to - none of us got into politics to continue this nonsense, and we stay in despite it because otherwise the only people in government will be the ones who don't care, and that would be worse.

A 'no' vote will let us clean up some constitutional problems that have been outstanding for a long time, and a 'yes' vote will get you King Salmond, but in neither case will the things people vote for be any different. I don't see a big change on the horizon here. The electoral arithmetic in Scotland will be quite different to in the UK as a whole, but you'll still be looking at a choice between Brown, Thatcher, and Salmond, or their more recent equivalents - and I really don't think that's what you were hoping for.

If anybody wants to propose some alternative approaches, I'll happily think them through and give you my best analysis of what would happen. Might even be able to reference an occasion when we've tried it.

I'm going to close on a Pratchett quote, from Night Watch:

In the end the problem isn’t that you have the wrong sort of government for the People, but that you have the wrong sort of People

I have to say, as an Australian, I found it absolutely adorable that some media outlet was describing an ~89% turnout in Edinburgh as ‘huge’ on Twitter.

Wait, you think that having a law requiring voting makes you superior? How cute.


In my experience, problems come from:

Human nature: 75%
Inconvenient physics: 25%
Use of dodgy numbers: 15%


Whichever way it goes, I'm hoping for the early days of a better nation. Scotland if yes, the UK if no. For purely selfish English reasons, I want Scots non-Tory MPs at Westminster. If however the vote is yes, I'm seriously thinking of becoming a Scot.


Well, no, that's not what I was saying, although I do think there are certain benefits (e.g., delivering much more socially representative turnout). It's just amusing to compare and contrast that reaction with the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and claims of mass disengagement following the slight decline in the formal vote at the last Australian federal election to about the same level as we're seeing for Scotland.


It's just amusing to compare and contrast that reaction with the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and claims of mass disengagement following the slight decline in the formal vote at the last Australian federal election to about the same level as we're seeing for Scotland.

So, in fact, that's exactly what you were saying.


Haven't read or commented here in a while, but I had to say something.

I'm under few remaining illusions that elections have much to do with "democracy" or "what the people want", but reading Andrew's comment is still depressing.

> I do real, winning-and-losing-elections

Winning and losing. What is the point of it all, if all our ideals about democracy and participation necessarily have to go out the window in order to satisfy our primate instincts about "my group winning"?

Some times I think about getting involved, and that maybe I could explain certain things clearer than others have bothered to do and make people see things in a new light - and who knows, maybe even change a few of my own opinions? - but then it always seems to come back to dogma and group loyality. Screw it.

And referendums seem to be particularly bad. (Maybe that's just when the contrast between the ideal and reality is especially striking.)


Hey, whatever happens, at least you'll finally be able to send that one writing project a SIGCONT, eh? That'll be nice.


I can see how that's a possible interpretation, but I was really thinking more about the state of Australian political commentary. That's probably rather off-topic though, tbh.


Despite my previous comments, I was sort of hoping the Scots would vote yes - if only to see the panic in the UK and European governments.

Sadly, without an explicit yes vote I doubt much will change. I am not convinced that the political elite was anything other than a small club - the only difference perhaps is that this is more obvious right now - the path from university to think tank (amusing I agree) to SPAD to MOP, (to prison, company directorships, international sinecure, ...) is now more obvious than before since information is no longer completely controlled by newspapers.

I am probably feeling liverish - I just paid the quarterly tax for my company.


Hope this works out well when the dust settles, however it goes. These comments and the previous thread make clear campaign finance reform is insufficient as an antidote to corruption, since the chains holding UK politicians in thrall should be much lighter than those in the US. Your distant cousins hope something good comes of the referendum, and it spills over this way.

Winning and losing. What is the point of it all, if all our ideals about democracy and participation necessarily have to go out the window in order to satisfy our primate instincts about "my group winning"?

There is a fair bit of that in politics. I don't really have much of that one myself. However, you cannot deliver even one seat in parliament without getting a large group of people to pull in the same direction. You cannot effect political change if you do not win elections. So as a fundamentally practical matter, you need to get a large team and get it over the winning line, or else you are completely irrelevant. I cannot overstate this enough: UK politics is completely dominated by the practicalities of winning elections.

This particular issue is highly susceptible to constitutional reform - proportional representation would change the landscape significantly - but the UK electorate has shown a persistent disinterest in this, which brings us back to the fundamental problem here: the public keeps voting for things to stay like this.


Well, rank corruption isn't the only way to have democratic failure. Consider that a Brit realistically gets to choose among 3 or fewer candidates, possibly every 5 years. In a common case of having only 2 competitive parties in a riding, that's 1 bit of choice per national election, or 0.2 bit per year.

Contrast to a moderately-grained PR election with maybe 8 parties -- 3 bits per election. At 5% threasholds, you might have 16+ parties -- 4 bits! Maybe 0.8 bits a year, or more if the government falls.

The US has plurality and only two parties, but the US also has primaries where the voters determine who makes it to the general. Our elections can range from "incumbent vs. nobody" to e.g. 4 primary candidates on each side, for 3 bits again. House elections happen every two years, so even a simple "throw the bastard out?" amounts to 0.5 bits a year.

Then there's the Swiss, whose referendums these days yield 9-16 bits/year of voter input, average probably 12-14. (3-4 elections a year, 3-4 ballot measures each.) Not counting the implicit input of the voters being able to have even more initiatives and referenda if they wanted, so I imagine the legislature keeps a keener eye on public opinion than is typical.

[Only national elections considered.]


"I fear that a yes vote would open a world of pain on scotland, probably resulting in husk of a country, once Cameron had finished with it."

What makes you think a no vote is going to lead to a better result?


The number of bits is just not a good indicator of quality of political debate.

The French keep trying the keep the number of candidates at their presidential elections close to an optimum, but they have more trouble with too many candidates than too few. Last time there wre a large pool of candidates, the left-wing vote was ventilated between the Greens, two or three flavours of wide-eyed alter-everything port-stalinist or post-trotskyist far-left, one or two centrist parties, and the normally typical Socialist party; you can interpret that as an increase in electoral choice and finer political determination, but the end result was that a far-right party that nobody in their right mind wants in power ended up out-competing the Socialist Party, yielding a second ballot pitting right-wing incumbent Chirac (whom many disliked) against far-tight-wing Le Pen (whom most hate and despise). Eventually, France elected a President it did not really want with a 89% majority typical of countries like Uzbekistan. Let me stress that: the legitimate choice was between centre-of-right Chirac, and centre-of-left Jospin. That was the question that people wanted to answer in the second ballot. Having Le Pen compete against Chirac was technically and constitutionally correct, was obviously an election-winner for Chirac, but was not democratically sound.

The Swiss keep voting for things of all venues. That includes little things like simplification of laws already being applied, blue-sky-thinking ideas that stand no chance (universal guaranteed income, abolishing the Army, a single health insurance (yes I know, but for them it is blue-sky)), and actually important issues like adhesion to the EEE or the EU. Recently, the far-right Democratic Union of the Centre (who are of course neither democratic, not united, not centrist) has taken to machine-gunning blue-sky-thinking questions that sometimes do get adopted, and really make you think that the government ought to dissolve the people and elect a new one. Examples: no to the UE, no to the EEE, no status of limitation for pedophile crimes, ban of minaret building, banning foreign offenders from the country, limitation of immigration including from the EU. Most of these measures contradict international law, treaties that Switzerland has signed and ratified after a vote to do so by the very same people who vote these populist measures. It goes so far that the Democratic Union of the Centre was mortified that its own proposition on immigration from the UE actually passed (because Switzerland automatically lost privileges like science funding, from which it benefits -- give one billion to the UE, get 1.2 billion in return).

So no, more choice does not yield increased quality of popular vote.

Less factually and more weeping-over-the-pub-counter, I think that the "beige dictatorship" represents a huge gravity well that sucks everything close to it very very hard. In the end your only choice is people who can govern but will have to do it the beige way, whatever they think and want (hence the race to distinguish one from one another by symbolic issues of no consequences), and wide-eyed loonies who cannot and should not govern. Historically, the further the gravity well goes towards more inequality and crappy life for the majority, the more the loonies become appealing; let it brew for a while, observe one unusually charismatic individual emerging from the fray, and have lots of fun with explosives.


If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a sporran — forever.


When was the last time that David Cameron kept an electoral promise?


Sorry Charlie, seems you are stuck with us for a little longer.
But at least you HAVE a parliament and some opportunity to make local decisions.
Down here we're just stuffed.


Braveheart 2: "Ye can take our freedom but ye cannae take our grants"
Carrot and stick wins, for now.
Until Cameron and Westminster tries to dodge the "pledges" - after all, it isn't in writing is it? Then we wait for the 2008 rerun of the recession and see how Scotland feels then. Or maybe "Britain" votes to exist the EU and Scotland doesn't? Whose side would Big Business be on then?


Well, the pollsters pat themselves on the back for good calls and ignore cancelling errors.

Callmedave doesn't resign.

A batch of people, most certainly including me, wait and see what kind of awful mess they make of trying to resolve the Westlothian question by January when they haven't managed to solve it since the first establishment of a Scottish Assembly.

I have some personal hopes for a radical rewrite as far from John Redwood's "English MPs are superior" plan as possible, and England having a number of regional assemblies with powers similar to the Scottish Parliament, then a gutted Westminster having a senatorial role and role for the remaining powers of the union.

But the question implies more what do we expect, so with my beige-tinted glasses - Redwood's plan is the consensus plan, if there is a consensus. Scottish MPs only vote on "union" powers. (The manifestoes argue about exactly what those union powers are.)

My little bit of hope is that Callmedave talked about Wales and Northern Ireland getting more devolved powers too, so I hope the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies get the same Devo+ deal as Scotland. (This would appeal to the "England for the Tories schemers as Wales is more Labour MPs hived off.) If this comes to pass, as I move to Wales it means England gets to stew between UKIP and a fracturing Tory party. Redwood loves his plan because of England's normal Tory majority, I think he's discounting the impact of UKIP at the ballot box in 2015. I'm not convinced UKIP win that many seats, but I think they'll steal some votes from all parties but more votes from the Tories in more places.

Someone above mentioned the Greens as a wasted vote. I think it will be interesting as we start to see discussion of manifestoes and so on. I've seen their policy announcements and they're looking much more like the centre-left party of British politics than Labour are likely to (although they are building up to their party conference and they could surprise us). The Greens could do a fracturing of votes on the left for those that want to vote for a left wing party rather than automatically vote Labour, as UKIP might do on the right. That will, in particular, become a possible option as we wait to see how the traditional Westminster parties react to this vote. The Scots are hugely energised, yes. But it's engaged people around me here in Yorkshire that I wouldn't expect to be drawn in to a political debate too. If they're patted on the back and told it's business as usual but they don't want to go back in their boxes, UKIP and the Greens could do really well.


So now you have the no vote which looks more clear than the polls gave it. Only a handful voted no. Whether Cameron sticks to his promises or not, I think Scotland wins. There will be some changes in power if the promises are kept, and some severe grumblings if not.

I personally think Scotland dodged a major economic bullet with this vote, while at the same time making it quite clear that Westminster politics were not acceptable and that change was needed. I think this is good.

Scotland can always try again in a few years if it wishes, perhaps with better groundwork on the economic issues to remove the uncertainty of the result.


I wonder if those rumblings about the Barnett Formula are true.

I wonder if free tertiary education is sustainable.

I wonder if all those promises about increasing devolution will be forgotten, reneged, undermined or simply made irrelevant by economic policy.

The destruction of industry will continue.

I wonder if Scotland will be able to resist the accelerating privatisation of the NHS.

On a related note, I wonder whether any of Scotland's devolved powers will be relevant after Britain signs up to TTIP; and that's a barbed question, because Alex Salmond is a big fan of the treaty.

Austerity has not yet run its course: I wonder how the food banks will cope.

I wonder whether food banks can do anything with heating: that's a harsher issue, further North, and 'sanctioned' families - or starvation-wage households who have simply run out of money - with cut-off electricity and gas are commonplace. I wonder what will be defunded when the councils are bled white by profit-driven residential 'care' homes, after Social Services are forced to intervene and take the children out of all those unlit and unheated homes.

Watch out for London setting up these failures by cuts and subtle changes to the law, while they 'devolve' the decisions on defunding services and managing the consequences of municipal insolvency to 'local democracy'.

Above all, I wonder if the Scots are aware that Independence - and devolution in general - are off the menu for a generation. Settled, done, dusted, and dissatisfaction north of the border is officially a non-issue in Westminster. There is no reason why the neoliberal alliance of Labour, LibDem and Conservatives should pay attention to the Scottish vote and the periphery of the economy again, for the next two decades. If ever.

I wonder if the 'No' campaigners realised that winning puts a giant 'Up For Sale' sign over Scotland.

I have kept my thoughts to myself while the 'Yes' campaign ran a positive and praiseworthy campaign: negativity and outright scaremongering were the tactics of the 'No'. But now it's the morning after, and we have neither aspirin nor aspirations.


"Then they have to go out and act in the way you object to, not because they want to, but because we've established through long, hard-fought years of campaigning, that this is what the UK voters will vote for"

If that's the sort of thing people will vote for, why did only 65% of the UK bother to vote in the last election?

As a joke I saw on twitter put it, when the choice isn't between:
Wanker A
Wanker B
Wanker C
Racist Wanker

then you get 85% turnout.


So the polls, on average, got it more or less right. Surprise!

I think this is going to be just as interesting as after a parallel universe win for the Yes crowd, except that now we all get to play constitutional reform.

It was interesting to see the lone UKIP MSP appearing on the watch-the-count TV shows, talking mostly rubbish. One of those unintended consequences of proportional representation.


For me, one of the most interesting things was the breakdown of votes by region.

There was a huge difference in the result between the most pro-yes areas (Dundee city - 57.35%) and the least (Orkney Islands - 32.8%).

Particularly noticeable was that the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, Highlands and Moray all had big majorities in favour of No.

In any future Scottish referendum, should these less populated areas be forced into independence by more populous areas or should the decision be made on a more granular geographic level?

Of course, if these areas did not go with an independent Scotland, the UK would keep the North Sea Oil...


In a proper independence vote you should need at least a majority of majorities, and probably a super majority of majorities.

Straight 50:50 is trying to make it as easy as possible to reach, not to have a sustainable scenario.

Thing to note is that if there is a next time, it will be obvious that the oil isn't there - which will probably preclude a vote at all.


Just as a side tangent for a moment, regardless of the outcome of the vote, an interesting point was the near-complete silence on the topic by Sinn Fein over here in Ireland.

See, you just had a vote on independence. You went down to the balloting center, made a mark on a bit of paper, dropped it in a box (or did all that by post), counted them up at the end of the day, and declared the result.


What part of the above process involved guns, bombs, torture, mutilation, kidnapping, arson, internment, or thirty years of people growing up with all of those as a way of life and never seeing any way out of it that didn't involve having to live with the people who did all that being a part of your government after they finally agreed to abide by the law? None.

You guys actually embarrassed Gerry Adams into shutting up by being civilised. Even when we passed a law banning his voice from the TV and radio, we didn't manage that.

And I suspect that quite a lot of people like Sinn Fein all over the world were feeling roughly the same sensation.

Nicely done.


Ok, if we couldn't win (and IMO corrosive negativity has triumphed over positivity, optomism, and several other things I hold dear) I at least wanted a closer result.

As it is we're now in the hands of trusting Scamoron and/or Cain Miliband to actually deliver on promises!


Nope, because the Scottish Political Singularity still isn't over yet.

There's the whole Devo Max issue to contemplate -- promises were made in the last week of campaigning -- although I expect them to be forgotten or kicked into touch because there's a general election due in less than 12 months. (A UK government can "do something" without actually doing anything by (a) put forward a really crap act, (b) brief their members in the House of Lords to spike it, (c) turn around and say "so sorry, Parliament Act will let us reintroduce it in the next session -- but there isn't going to be a next session of this government: see general election coming!", and (d) the next government isn't bound by the current government's commitments.)

There's the general election in July 2015, of course. (My money is on a Labour victory, although that's not saying much: these days they're a party of instinctive authoritarians led by neoliberals who will continue the austerity agenda and process of NHS privatization by stealth).

But if I'm wrong there'll be a Conservative government. And then there'll almost certainly be another referendum in 2017, on BRExit from the EU.


Absolutely correct.

I think we (Scotland) are going to get screwed ...


Those are pretty much my thoughts exactly. Apres moi, le deluge applies in spades to all those who bought the fearmongering from the No side.

A standard tool of political propagandists is projection: whatever you're doing that you know doesn't look good, accuse the other guys of. Then they'll be kept busy denying it, and if they say "but YOU do it!" the peanut gallery will assume it's a tit-for-tat lie.

So I take all the most dismal prognostications of Project Fear as indicators of where the Westminster neoliberal bloc intend to take the UK in general and Scotland in particular over the next five years.

(Those food banks? Get used to them, because they aren't going away until, as in the late Victorian period, every recession comes with windrows of starved corpses lying in the parks and streets.)


I think this is going to be just as interesting as after a parallel universe win for the Yes crowd, except that now we all get to play constitutional reform.


I don't believe we're going to get anything meaningful out of this because (a) less than 12 months to the next general election (meaning: all promises are effectively deniable by the "we're out of time" gambit), and (b) any transfer of power to the regions would effectively deprive Westminster of power, and Westminster is really keen on centralization -- it has been so, ever since Thatcher if not before.

Remember, the whole point of the poll tax was to put a noose around the funding throads of local councils that didn't follow the same political agenda as the Thatcherite centre: it took a huge tax rebellion (at one point, 50% of the Scottish population weren't paying the poll tax) to get them to back down. The impetus towards the centralization of power is still there, and nothing short of a major public revolt (threatening to replace the government of the day) can stand in its path. With a mandatory 5 year election term now in force, this becomes even harder ...


Nope, because the Scottish Political Singularity still isn't over yet.

So now would be the time to write an alternate history novel where the Yes campaign won? :-)


You're assuming oil is the main, or even sole, economic backbone of Scotland. Not true. Oil is important, but it peaked in 1999 and is in long-term decline: meanwhile we do other stuff here besides drinking whisky, playing bagpipes, and moaning. (Per wikipedia: "Today, Scotland produces 28% of Europe’s PCs; more than seven per cent of the world’s PCs; and 29% of Europe’s notebooks".)


Welp, on a micro-personal level, this outcome sort of rules out writing an explicit sequel to "Halting State" and "Rule 34".

I am not too upset about that -- I began world-building for that universe in 2005 and it's a bit long-in-the-tooth for a "15 minutes into the future" setting.

The flipside is that the pitch for the third second-person near-future Scottish crime novel isn't directly affected, and may even work better this way.

Also, I don't need to worry about the next 3 Laundry Files novels veering away from reality too fast (other than in the obvious way).

And the Attack Novel/Chew Toy/Long-Term Deniable Project probably works better this way, too.


There's the whole Devo Max issue to contemplate -- promises were made in the last week of campaigning -- although I expect them to be forgotten or kicked into touch because there's a general election due in less than 12 months.

Well, the strategy against that would be to use the momentum of the Yes campaign to press for a concrete realisation of those promises before the next election and making it as the top issue for the next election if Westminster fails to do so.

And if Labour wins and then screws the Scots anyhow, I guess it's time to get out the claymores.


So it's politics as usual?

I am collecting insults that will fit under the 140-character Twitter limit, preferably avoiding words such as Scunthorpe that can trigger censorware.


What comes next?

Precisely nothing. The Tories have, what?, one Scottish MP? They already manage to win with the Scots hating them, why would they give anything to them now that the Scots have tugged the forelock appropriately? There's simply no motivation for the Tories to do anything to help Scotland now - there is far more likely to be revenge extracted on Scotland than fulfilling of promises made by Dave from PR when he was frightened.

Wikipedia tells me that the LibDems have 11 sitting MPs, all in the Highlands - they're either going to get wiped out like almost every other LibDem MP come the next election, or they've got locks on their seats like the LibDems in the South West and nothing will remove them. In neither situation does 'doing something to help the Scots now that the Scots have removed their only leverage' help the LibDems - so no action there.

Lab can *promise* to do DevoMax come an election win, and pick up a few LibDem seats in the inevitable LibDem cull. Given, however, that the most passionate and effective performers on the No side were a previous Lab PM and a previous Lab chancellor; and that the West Lothian question was framed and defined by a Lab MP, you'd have to accept that there would be limited interest in giving the Scots any additional powers. Especially as that would necessarily involve giving extra power/ credit to Alex Salmond, who is probably now more hated within the Lab party than even George Galloway.

tl;dr: Scotland was in a 'shit or get off the pot' moment. Having lost their nerve and got off the pot, no-one imagines someone's going to kindly invite them to get back on, do they?


That sort of badly designed nannyware that doesn't understand that " $string" is a "naughty word" but "A$string" isn't annoys me more than occasionally seeing "naughty words" ever can.


"And if Labour wins and then screws the Scots anyhow, I guess it's time to get out the claymores."

Just remember, "This side toward enemy" applies to the sword as well as the mine, one lesson all too often ignored in Scottish history.


Some comments above have said that we "lost our nerve" or "bought the fearmongering from the No side".

Well, no. We looked at what was on offer and decided that what was best for Scotland was to remain part of the UK; that the arguments for independence didn't hold water, and said, "Thank you for the offer but we're afraid we couldn't possibly...".

To say that we were too frightened is to assume that, deep down, we agreed that independence would be the best solution to Scotland's problems and were just too intimidated to vote for it. That's the Yes supporters flattering yourselves. Actually, we just didn't agree with you.

Of course, us No voters might have been wrong. So might the Yes voters. We all made our own assessment of the pros and cons.

We're going to have to live and work together now. So let's start by both sides recognising that people have different opinions on what is best for Scotland.


Has anyone seen any buried news released yesterday? Seems like it would have been a great day to do it...


Yeah, I know, I was the one saying it was a byplay...

Thing is, nobody on the "yes" side seemed to be taking account of the reality. That reality will become more obvious in future - which cuts a leg from those claiming they would be better with control of "their oil".

As it is, Cameron seems to be playing a fun game. By devolving powers over "welfare" and making tax local, he can maintain control over the regions by effective control over London and the South East (since nobody else is going to get elected). If everyone else has to have a higher tax, and the welfare has to be funded from that tax, he can ensure that those that can, migrate towards the South East - no matter what regional representation they might elect. It's a smart game.

As I said before, he had, and has, a plan.


As for what will happen, the cynic in me says, "probably little", but I'll take whatever extra powers are on offer.

My optimistic side would like to see a cross-border campaign to establish a devolved English parliament. That would answer the West Lothian question once and for all. It would also answer the question, "why does the minister of education for England have a seat on the UK cabinet?" (ditto for the minister of health). It would give English voters clear control over issues that affect only them.

We have working examples of devolved parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So why would it be any harder for England? (As opposed to being harder for English MPs who want to feel important).


Independence is about self determination and freedom.
Scotland voted for neither.


...badly designed nannyware...

Also, the program that flags Scunthorpe has no problem with Pen Island.


That's almost plausible ... except that the financialization of the British economy is based on debt leveraged on housing, and the housing bubble in the South East is catastrophic right now. (I've been seeing ads lately for a new development of one and two bedroom apartments in St Paul's -- right in the centre -- with prices starting at £5.2M, or around US $8.5M for a one bedroom apartment!) Even outside the overheated core (where prices are being driven by speculation on the part of sovereign wealth funds who are buying houses as hedge fund investment vehicles rather than residences) housing is twice as expensive as it is elsewhere in the UK.

I have an apartment about 50% larger than the average UK home, in a Grade 1 listed building in a UNESCO world heritage site, within a 10 minute walk of the centre of a capital city with world-class arts and recreation facilities (at least for a city of half a million people), and it costs less than an apartment half its size in a cheap (run-down) neighbourhood of a suburban commuter dormitory like Watford or Harrow. To move to London and preserve my standard of living would take more than 1-5% off my income tax -- it'd take a multi-million pound windfall landing on my head.

Unless the south-east housing bubble collapses within the next couple of years (and by collapse I'm talking about a 50% to 90% devaluation, across the board, which would have worldwide repercussions as $20-40Tn of imaginary money would have just vanished out of the global economy and the UK would probably be bankrupted) then the internal immigration model ain't gonna fly.

More likely, we're going to see the Square Mile -- which is where the "prosperity" is concentrated -- turning into a miniature version of Singapore embedded within the festering suburbia of Tower Hamlets. Which is a long term recipe for more riots, more repression, and, ultimately, heads on pikes.


I think you're suffering from a bit of post no vote pessimism there. Yes a parliament can't be bound by it's predecessor, but this promise was not made by parliament, it was made by the parties themselves. If they thought it was a promise that could be gone back on they would have made it earlier. By making it so late when the polls were just starting to show a yes lead the parties are stuck with the commitment. Go back on it now and the SNP will make a new referendum on independence a manifesto commitment for the next scottish parliament election and probably win. This is especially true for labour who will almost certainly need all of scotland's MP's to form the next government. I'ts quite possible that a few more of those MP's will be SNP next time around (and if a Labour government went back on it's promise it's certain they would be the time after that in the unlikely event of scotland still being in the UK).
Mind you for the tories i there is now huge upside to Devo max. This campaign has been very high profile in the rest of the UK in the last few weeks. It looks like the result is that England might finally start paying attention to the West Lothian Question and the Tories and UKIP seemed to be falling over themselves to jump on that bandwagon this morning.

> The impetus towards the centralization of power is still there, and nothing short of a major public revolt (threatening to replace the government of the day) can stand in its path.

Quite - but isn't that what you've just had?


Looks like Cameron has pulled a masterfully cynical stroke by seizing the opportunity to diminish Labour influence by embracing devolution:

"[...] in future, English MPs alone will vote on English issues.

The prime minister, of course, did not make this clear when he made his vow to the Scottish people in the Daily Record along with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. "


@Mark Dennehy Are you speaking from an alternate reality in which the ballot box you refer to has delivered Scottish independence?


I’m sceptical that anything will come of the promises of significantly more devolution for Scotland. More sceptical about the promise that devolution will come to England. I’m still waiting for Lords Reform and have been since 1912.

However, however, however, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Both Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society are organising a petition for a citizen led UK wide constitutional convention.

I’ve been involved in Democracy to the Max, a citizen led process with the Electoral Reform Society in Scotland and it’s a refreshing change and a great sense of empowerment to be involved in something actually democratic. It’s what I’d like for the whole of the UK.

Link to the petition below.


>My optimistic side would like to see a cross-border campaign to establish a devolved English parliament

I could get behind that from here in the Midlands. Keep a UK parliament in London to deal with truly national issues (with fewer MPs and a rethought upper house) and have an English parliament somewhere else (most likely further North)

Then, powers could be devolved to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland on an equal basis so that more decisions can be made more locally.

I can't see the Westminster political class going for it though.


"We can go out and be up front with people about what's going to happen after the election, the limited resources and influence that we have available, and how we can't actually give everybody all of the things that they want. "

'Limited resources' become unlimited whenever is's something the elites want,

War? No problem.

Subsidies and crony capitalism? No problem.

Multi-hundred billion bailouts to criminals? No problem.


Oh, I didn't say it was a great idea - but stratifying the society on a geographic basis has some significant advantages as the collapse rolls on. Think triage.

Only issue is, can he either get this done before the election, or can he win that election? It's pretty obvious that Labour are alert to the idea of what this brand of devolution will mean - so he needs to sell it quick and get it in place whilst people don't realise the game.

I can't help but think the EU referendum plays into this plan somehow - but I haven't worked out what yet.


That's because the government didn't imprison/kill/torture the people working for independence.

Do you actually think that the situations are comparable?


"....but this promise was not made by parliament, it was made by the parties themselves. "

Last I heard, the Tories broke their word a lot, and still get five years in power. The LD's betrayed their constituencies by even more, and get five years of whatever they're being paid.

Are there actual examples of retaliation for lying happening on a scale and timeframe that politicians fear?

As for just trying again in Scotland, my guess is that the sequel won't do as well as the original.


Ok, name one single area where "Worse Apart" actually said "we will make this better by $action if you vote No" rather than just that the Yes policy wasn't as good as the status quo.


Er, the use of " string" and "Astring" was to deliberately highlight the fact that one was a word and the other a sequence of letters". "Pen Is(land)" is a 6 character string with "land" appended and not a 5 character string meaning "male member" with "land" appended.


Oh, I didn't say it was a great idea - but stratifying the society on a geographic basis has some significant advantages as the collapse rolls on. Think triage.

That's why I voted for independence in the first place! If a state of 5 million people goes down, that's 5 million people who're screwed. Whereas a state of 60 million both has leaders who are harder to hold to account, and screws 12 times as many people if they fuck up.


Parenthetically, there is a regular-expression based Bad Words/Nanny filter running on this blog's comments.

You're free to say shitfuckcunt as often as you please ... but certain bad words will get your comment held in moderation.

As those bad words are generally words that only crop up here in comments posted by spammers (such as certain big-name brands of products that really don't fit the interests of the typical commenter here), I hope you won't hold this against me.


Me too. For preference I'd rather see the sub-UK layer be a federation of regions rather than the four home nations (ie look to the länder of Germany for a model) - but I could get behind a properly devolved English parliament which was clearly demarcated from the UK-level assembly if the prospect of regional legislatures scares too many horses.

What I *don't* want is some spatchcocked monstrosity like a 'grand committee for England' or the 'English votes for English bills' trial balloons that sundry tories have been shopping around the media this morning. All that does is kick the can down the road until someone gets a majority-only-with-Scotland in a Westminster election.

Cue full blown constitutional crisis when the govt can't get an English bill through parliament.



I'm inclined to agree.

They've got to be seen to do something. Failure to deliver anything, after putting their names, faces and signatures to that vow on the front of the Daily Record - an image that gained a hell of a lot of traction in rUK as well - will be tantamount to electoral suicide.

I wouldn't be sure that there will be more powers devolved before the general election, although I wouldn't be stunned if it's an extension of the current powers (more tax variance and so on) rather than additional areas of powers since that's relatively minor amendments to existing law and rebellious Tory backbenchers will be pushed aside by a cross-party consensus to get it done.

If that doesn't happen, all the big Westminster parties will have firm manifesto commitments. There may be variation in what they offer but they'll have a firm commitment to something more than the current level of devolution and less than independence.

Failing to do so will just give too much ammunition away. "Look, they promised this in September and they can't even keep that promise. How can you trust them to deliver on anything else?"

I think what will be truly interesting is what other things go along with it. The Tory backbenchers in particular are up in arms (and they're the only voices being heard on the national media) but there's voices in Wales that are speaking out loudly about more devolution for Wales (and in fairness Callmedave mentioned the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies).

The Tories might be forced to be the most radical here to try and keep some semblance of unity. Labour and to a lesser extent the LibDems are happier with something like the status quo but if they can't have that, maybe they'll push for a real restructuring to destroy a perceived English Tory permanent advantage if Scotland and Wales are devolved and the English MPs are given advantages in Westminster with the others treated as second-class MPs.


What happens next? That's down to us. All of us.

What I'll try to make happen, provided I can get enough to go along, is to keep the Three Wise Monkeys wearing brown trousers right up to next year's General Election.

I'll also be reminding everyone at every opportunity that Racist Wanker D has no MPs to back him up, and every time the BBC ask him to spew his vile rantings they forget to ask themselves why he's so readily available (hint: it's because he's got nothing better to do).

Any other ideas?


To the folks starting to get heated over the Scottish Independence/NI Troubles comparisons (and at the minor risk of straying off-thread-topic): It didn't read to me that the intent of the original poster was to compare the scenarios, and clearly they are very different for many reasons. Also, the silence of the Nationalist NI politicians during the referendum had nothing to do with shame, it was simple political calculus: They gained nothing by supporting the YES camp, and in the event of a loss they would have handed the NI Unionists a huge big stick to beat them with.


See, this is what happens when you try to use peaceful, democratic means to leave the British Empire, instead of hiding behind trees and sniping at the redcoats.

Anyways, congratulations on your Declarations of Dependence I guess. May David Cameron go burn


If the Westminster establishment blow Scotland off like you describe then they can kiss the Union goodbye within a generation - the SNP will surf the 'we wuz robbed' narrative to a decisive vote for independence within, at the most, 20 years.

My nightmare scenario is that Westminster grants substantive devo-max to Scotland without doing anything about the rest of the UK. Then we'll have the Kippers and their allies inside the Tory party using the 'Scotland have a cushy deal' narrative to build up a resentful, English nationalist powerbase across the English regions.

Cue a sustained escalation of bad feeling and betrayals (real or imagined) on both sides until you end up with a properly nasty collapse of the Union somewhere in the latter part of the century.

IMO the best way to secure the Union for the long term is to bite the bullet and create a properly federal UK.



"They've got to be seen to do something. Failure to deliver anything, after putting their names, faces and signatures to that vow on the front of the Daily Record - an image that gained a hell of a lot of traction in rUK as well - will be tantamount to electoral suicide."


In addition, they can very loudly do many things:

1) Those which mean nothing.
2) Those which mean something, but - gosh darn it, look at the calendar! - just could not be done before the next election.
3) Those which mean something, but have to be restarted due to the new government, and Things Have Changed, and we're very busy.
4) Those which mean something, but shift the burden of making hard decisions onto Scotland, while the money and fun power stay in London.


I think I can predict what will happen: "You can have all the powers and devo you like, but we are cutting the money you get. Now **** off."


"If the Westminster establishment blow Scotland off like you describe then they can kiss the Union goodbye within a generation - the SNP will surf the 'we wuz robbed' narrative to a decisive vote for independence within, at the most, 20 years."

That's a looooooooooooong time. 20 years from now, the current 55-year old politicians will be 75 and retired, with cushy government pensions and jobs on corporate boards.

Twenty years is what - five governments in the UK? Heck, the odds of any top politician still being at the top is pretty bad, considering that their party will have lost elections two to four times.


The political announcements and fallout will be interesting to track. It seems quite appropriate that today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.


Sign me up for some of that...

And while Dave, Ed, and Nick may have felt free to make whatever promises they liked about further devolution to Scotland, now that they've (officially and publicly) brought England, Wales, and NI into the picture they (and Scotland) can forget about that ridiculous self-imposed deadline.

If I'm getting a new constitutional settlement I want the job done properly, I want some say in the proposals, and I want to be consulted before they're put into effect. That isn't going to happen in the lifetime of this Parliament and I'm not inclined to accept some sort of half-cocked stitch-up thrown together in a back room by William Hague and a few of bis mates as a substitute...


Have to say I was quite surprised by the result, I thought it would be much closer.
Some weird numbers, the (relatively) low turnout in Dundee for example.
The post-mortem will be interesting, personally I think Jim Sillars cost the Yes campaign at least a couple of percentage points, but we will see.
Watching the UKIP European MP last night, at least reassured me that the prospect of the UK leaving the EU is approximately zero.


You probably won't believe this Barry, but there are politicians out there who aren't totally in it for themselves. Some of them value the Union even and are willing to try and do something about keeping it going beyond the mean-time-to-failure of their career.

The $40000 question is whether there are enough of them to actually get the job done. That's where we come in. We can energise and organise to hold the feet of the slackers, careerists and idiots to the fire so they get behind the ones who have some decent ideas and help them over the line.

Or we could just assume they'll fuck it up, make a cynical jibe on the internet about what machiavellian wankers they all are and go back to watching TV.

After all what's the point? They're all bastards, right?



"Sources say new powers for Scottish parliament will be "an extenssnion of existing responsibilities" - not Devo Max #indyref"

That was 5:36 AM, BST.

How many minutes from 'No' winning to the first backtracking 'leak'?
Less than an hour?


Speaking of things that are 20 years out, does anyone else find it interesting that the youngest voters apparently were 70/30 in favor of independence, and 65+ voters 30/70 against?

Will the younger generation "grow up and be sensible" and todays middle-aged start worrying about the terrible consequences to their pensions, or is this a genuine difference between generations that will persist?


As you probably gathered from Antonia's comment that I replied to, my objection is to filters that are badly designed and can't tell that Scunthorpe is not a vulgarism for female genitalia (or even a sexist term for women) rather than to the existence of filters.


What comes next?-I can not speak for anyone else but I have tabled a motion at the next Ward Labour party meeting calling on my Constituency and Area Labour parties to initiate discussions on a devolved East Midlands assembly. This constitutes a something coming next.


"Speaking of things that are 20 years out, does anyone else find it interesting that the youngest voters apparently were 70/30 in favor of independence, and 65+ voters 30/70 against?"

It's the same pattern we're seeing in the USA. Older people tend to be attached to understandings of the world formed in their youth, even though these are no longer valid. It may be that in 20 years, the Scots will be for independence, even though it no longer makes sense.


"See, this is what happens when you try to use peaceful, democratic means to leave the British Empire, instead of hiding behind trees and sniping at the redcoats."

And making an alliance with the French.

Hunh. Maybe the Scots ought to make an alliance with…who, exactly? The IS? Russia? China?

--The very silly Raven


The split in voting intentions between young and old voters is a well-known, well-researched phenomenon. It is for this reason that Salmond pushed for lowering the voting age to 16 for this referendum; younger people tend to prefer novelty over stability, whereas the older ones prefer known stable conditions over uncertain different ones.

This is also a factor behind the likelihood of wars between countries; the lower the median age of any given population, the more likely an armed conflict is to start up in that country. It is for this reason that the Arabic countries are so volatile; they have many, many more young people than do other parts of the world. Statistically speaking, young people are more impulsive, more aggressive and have a much greater "get up and go" tendency than do even marginally older individuals.

As an aside, one implied claim of the EU is that it has prevented yet another pan-European war starting up. This is, I believe, mostly bogus; demographics and an aging population structure together with differing styles of politics that are in most of Europe much more consensus-based than earlier ones were are the cause of this lack of a war. That and an absence of a trigger for one.


I do think the EU has helped in preventing another war in Europe. Or at least the spreading of one, to be a tad more exact.
Think of ex-Yugoslavia. Those of us living in neighbouring countries certainly do - and I personally remember being awake at around 3am hearing the news that we (Austria) had started moving troops to the border because there've been troop amassments on the other side. Similar things happened on the border to Italy.

That NATO^Wthe US^WNATO then started "peacekeeping" with bombs there is a different story. But in the early days it sure looked like the collapse of Yugoslavia might spread. Italy wasn't as worried, being a member of NATO and the EU, and the troops at the Austrian border only went away after Germany harrumphed rather loudly.

Remember, not all of the EU borders only on nice&cosy&stable countries.
And the EU is especially useful for those countries that ain't in NATO (or PfP), or where the ties there ain't as strong, there's a point when economic/social ties are strong enough that there will be someone harrumphing like Germany did for us (because otherwise their own government would fall).


What's your source for that about younger voters? No one paid for an exit poll, AFAIK, and early signs were that youth were more pro-No:

"Research by a group of academics at Edinburgh University into the voting intentions of the under-18s has also challenged the conventional wisdom that younger voters are more likely to vote Yes. In their first survey, conducted in 2013, they found 72 per cent voting No against 28 per cent voting Yes. By the time of their second survey, in June 2014, the gap had closed, but the No camp still carried the day easily - 64 per cent to 36 per cent."


Meanwhile, another important vote in Scotland... St. Andrews Golf Club has voted to allow women members.


Carefully not having read any of the intervening comments ...
Charlie's phrase:
"The deligitimization of the political elites" is the important bit.

I'm very glad the result went the way it did, because IMHO the so-called "independance" of Scotland is & was a diversion fron all our real problems.

However, we are still stuck with “The Ruling Party” & remote government, & local guvmint is no better – my local council have just succeeded an annoying vast numbers in a very small area, because of their arrogance & refusal to consult, f’rinstance
So, will we really get devolved area governments, will the “West Lothian” (& similar) questions actually be dealt with?
And, the "Barnett" formula has to go, a.s.a.p.

But, none of this promised devolutiopn even if it comes to pass, & I’m deeply cynical as to how many apparent sops will be thrown our way, whilst nothing actually changes & “Whitehall” continues to manipulate from behind the arras, the structural problems remain. As I’m about to tell my MP (Ms Creasey) whatever her personal qualities, she & her party (Labour) are part of the problem, they probably cannot be part of the solution.

Problems include TTIP, the inherent corruption from lobbying of the EU, the drive by the 0.1% (or even the 0.01%) to shaft the rest of us – helped by idiots in Labour (etc), raising income-tax rates to 50%, but not actually doing anything at all about that top sliver of ultra-rich.

So, if ConDemLab / LibLabCon / Beige are the problem what’s the solution?

You already know my very strong views on the Watermelons Green party, UKIP have some good ideas, [ Note*] but too many right-wing fruitcakes for comfort, & whatever’s left of “occupy” are awa’ wi’ the fairies, same as they always were. Now what?

Note:” A country in the EU, can no more have its own trade, agriculture, fisheries, immigration, environment or justice policies than any other EU member.” (Direct quote from N. Farage)

To which I may add, ability to buy safe consumer goods, such as lightbulbs, vacuum cleaners or hairdryers, or safe products for your garden reserved for commercial agribusiness ….. etc.

Salmond has just resigned


They've got to be seen to do something. Failure to deliver anything, after putting their names, faces and signatures to that vow on the front of the Daily Record - an image that gained a hell of a lot of traction in rUK as well - will be tantamount to electoral suicide.


The Tories don't have to do anything in Scotland -- the worst that can happen is they can lose two MPs, because that's all they've got.

Labour and the LibDems are another matter, but the LibDems can't act without Conservative or Labour coalition partners (so they don't count) and Labour can't act until and unless they win an election, i.e. not before July 2015, by which time the issue may have been eclipsed by more recent priorities.


I didn't say bits improved debate, or even provided better government, I implied they give less corrupt government. Government that's closer to what the people want, for good or ill.

It is of course possible to undermine having lots of choices by using plurality counting.

Yes, the Swiss passed a minaret ban. Multiple legislatures passed a veil ban, is that an argument against democracy in general? No system of government involving other people is going to give results you're always happy with. But statistically, Switzerland is one of the best run countries: rich despite being landlocked (and it's not just banking, high end manufacturing is big), fairly equal (and recently passing checks on CEO pay by initiative, a rare leftward shift these days), humane, stable despite multiple languages.

It's also struck me that if the threat of direct democracy kept a legislature in line, then the only initiatives you'd see would be nutty ones that don't pass, because sensible ideas had already been passed by the legislature. But if you got rid of the initiative process, then the legislature wouldn't be kept in tight line any more. Similar to how central banks and deposit insurance often keep things stable by existing, without having to be used.

The Swiss also have a nice trick where the legislature can put a counter-proposal on the ballot, so you can combine the benefit of the people forcing an issue to be considered with the benefit of the legislative deliberation in writing the law.


"You probably won't believe this Barry, but there are politicians out there who aren't totally in it for themselves. Some of them value the Union even and are willing to try and do something about keeping it going beyond the mean-time-to-failure of their career."

Who are they?


"Will the younger generation "grow up and be sensible" and todays middle-aged start worrying about the terrible consequences to their pensions, or is this a genuine difference between generations that will persist?"

(middleaged person 20 years from now): 'What are these 'penshunz' you keep discussing? I've checked my neurogoogle, and all that it gets me is 'doubleplus ungood - report for 'terminal love-in' at MiniLuv'.


Something includes manifesto commitments to devo+ and the like, not necessarily delivery before the general election. Although I'd be surprised if there's not something before the election with a cross-party consensus too.

The promise to Scotland was printed in a Scottish newspaper, but covered heavily down here. Failing to deliver sometime just puts a big "Will you trust them on this after they broke that huge public promise to the Scots last year?" in the hands of their opponents. The election takes place on a bigger stage than Scotland, but the promise is well known outside Scotland too. The public already don't trust politicians, doing that too... electoral suicide.


The FUD from the "no" campaign over state pensions probably had something to do with the age profile of the "no" vote ...


We can all sketch out on the back of the proverbial napkin/fag packet the sort of federal arrangements that would make sense for a UK that was actually serious about being a UK.

Here's mine: Upgrade with Wales and London to full Scottish Parliament power. Revive a few Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, I suggest Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex and East Anglia, give them the full Scotland too.

(Northumbria gets Cumbria in compensation for not having Lothian, Cornwall gets a referendum on becoming part of Wales if they really absolutely insist)

Shrink the Commons down to a quarter of it's current size, and replace the Lords with a with Senate selected from the constituent parliaments, you only need them to handle truly UK stuff.

Then you think about whether more things needs devolving after that to make it all work.

And yes, you still end up with London being too big.


...not gonna happen. Nah-huh.

Cameron will propose some superficially plausible bullshit combination of poisoned-chalice and brutal half-assery pretty much involving Scotland alone (I hear Cameron already has).

Milliband will propose a more measured approach, with wide ranging consultations with the English regions on a new constitutional settlement, sounding something like your or my napkin proposal but also suspiciously similar to John Prescott's effort back in the day that ended up in the long grass. (I hear Milliband already has)

Clegg will squeak like a chew toy.

Milliband will rightly say that Cameron's proposal is a plausible bullshit poison chalice of half-assery that doesn't address the real issues, and he's not signing on.

Cameron will rightly say that Milliband's proposal will inevitably end up in long grass and come to nothing just like Prescott's, and he's not signing on.

Both parties have form on this one.

And then next month, Clacton will hold its by-election. UKIP will romp home to victory, and our political and media classes will be back to discussing the urgent necessity to exiting the EU so we can deport all the Poles[1], and Britain can once again be for the Eng^H^H^HBritish again.

Cameron will quietly implement the parts of the poison chalice that he were going to happen even without the referendum anyway, but with a leavening of additional boot to groin to buy-off any more backbenchers inclined to bolt to UKIP.

A watered down scheme of constitutional reform will appear in either of Labour or the Tories Manifesto for the 2015 election. UKIP's manifesto will have something utterly batshit and terrifying on the issue that the papers will love.

These scheme will be ignored after the election, unless it's UKIP and then $DEITY help us all.

Direction of UK travel remains an utterly and completely fucked controlled flight into terrain. And we in Scotland ain't got no ejection lever no more. We're committed.

It is to laugh.


[1] Note: Polish Grandfather. Polish co-worker. Some of this shit is kind of personal to me. Just a little.


[1] Note: Polish Grandfather. Polish co-worker. Some of this shit is kind of personal to me. Just a little.

Add the suffix -Jewish in "Polish Grandfather" and you just described me, too.

Direction of UK travel remains an utterly and completely fucked controlled flight into terrain. And we in Scotland ain't got no ejection lever no more. We're committed.

$WIFE is probably eligible for a Canadian passport, but we'd need to chase up a decades-cold paper trail and employ an immigration lawyer to prove it. In another month I could acquire an Israeli passport without rendering myself liable for military service, but ... nope, not going there, that's a whole different rabbit hole full of batshit crazy.

It is to weep.


Danelaw back into (now federated) union with Denmark, perhaps they could unite their sports teams with the Faroes? But honestly, there is some non-hyperbole in thinking that Yorkshire might get a better voice in Copenhagen than they do in London. Norfolk might be a harder sell.

Pro: still in the EU.

Con?: No more Liz, but the Danish Royals seem to be at least as lovely.

Con: still a language barrier, but possibly less confusion.


" The election takes place on a bigger stage than Scotland, but the promise is well known outside Scotland too. The public already don't trust politicians, doing that too... electoral suicide. "

Sorry..but NO! This, following, Linked, is the image that most of the rest of the world - inc England - sees when they think of Scotland. The Public Profile of the Referendum, and the Battle of Brave-Fart - aka Alex Salmond - against the Tories will vanish like ...Scots Mist? ..but this will remain...

Must Post something more substantive as a person situated in the North East of England, but, I spent the Night Drinking Batemans Victory Ale ..

And Scottish Single Malt Cough Mixture

And also eating bacon sandwichs - unlike Our Gratious Host I didnt chicken( haggis? ) out! - and I have this , entirly inexplicable, feeeling that my entire brain will melt real soon now and spill out past my cough has gone away though.


I have been saying we might get 55% no 45% yes for a week or two now, and see it as the most useful outcome, enough to push for change, not enough to create a massive revolution.

As for sectarianism, George Square in Glasgow seems to be full of right wing Unionists waving stuff about the red hand of Ulster and doing strange salutes. Maybe some people were right to worry about sectarianism in an independent SCotland....
Or maybe not, the polis have it in hand, and I've yet to hear of disappoiunted Yes campaigners torching polling stations or something.


Turkish father, (Northern) Irish mother with Scottish and English heritage. I am in the same boat and thinking of applying for an Irish passport at the moment to be ready when the inevitable racist backlash kicks me out of this country. It is truly depressing.


> and early signs were that youth were more pro-No

Interesting. This is the poll I saw mentioned in the Guardian.

It has been pointed out after I posted my comment that the sample size for 16-17 year olds was tiny (only 14 voters), so that could be why it doesn't add up.


I have a horrible suspicion you are correct.
And yet.
Very public promises have been made, which it is going to be very difficult to wriggle out of.
So SOMETHING wll be done, but I suspect it will be too little & heavily rigged.
Please note, whatever UKIP's other failings & "federal" UK appears to be on their platform/manifesto.

Hakan @ 104
You are too pessimistic.
What "racist backlash"?
Maybe some people, who should have been locked up years ago will get it ( Not looking at Rotherham or Tower Hamlets, hem, hem! ) because people were afraid of being accused of racism, but the real racists are (now) a tiny minority & much disliked.
There are far too many places, like the road where I live, where that sort of open persecution of minorities will get you nowhere at all.
NOT a vote-winner.
We may be overpopulated (or not) but that is another story, & nothing at all to do with race & a lot to do with successive guvmints crawling to the big employers who wanted cheap labour for exploitation, irrespective of skin colour, at any price.

P.S from another blog, the inestimable "Diamond Geezer":
Ethnicity: 87.1% White, 7.0% Asian, 3.0% Black, 2.0% Mixed, 0.9% Other
Religion: Christianity 59%, No religion 33%, Islam 4%, Hinduism 1%, Other religions 2%
- for the UK as a whole.


The precise difference between us and the Victorians, and their recessions, is that we will regard dead paupers with disgust and loathing, and the visibly-diseased and dying will be the target of hate crimes.

Hate crimes which will go unpunished, and will be met with widespread public support, coded phrases of approval in the popular press, and an unembarrassed silence from those politicians who would claim 'the moral high ground' but see no profit in ascending it.

Propaganda works: we're just better at it than Victorians.

Starvation is the least of the evils in our neoliberal Victorian future.


Before the referendum, there seemed to be a lot of bogus reports of bad behaviour by the "Yes" campaign. In a few cases, there were photographs of flags being burned which turned out to have happened in the Middle East, several years ago.

So it is interesting that there is so little coverage of the "No" carry-ons. The BBC even used photos of polling stations that had been hit by graffiti threatening anyone who didn't vote "Yes".

That's a tricky one, under the BBC's own rules for the coverage. And some of the stuff posted to social media by the "No" campaign on Thursday looked a bit dodgy by the usual media rules. But these services don't seem to care about the law. And I find it hard to trust them as a news service.

Heck, it's getting so that I am not sure I trust anyone as a news service.


The above being actual footage (electronage?) taken in George Square earlier today by a Glaswegian SNP councillor.


I put the blame for the failure of YES firmly on Salmond's shoulders, Charlie. He couldn't close the deal. Well, of course the NO side would be putting out scare stories. He should have been able to deal with them by saying: "Here's our political plan, here's our economic plan -- we've thought it all through!" He's been described as a canny politician, but now he looks like a pathetic fool.
This referendum has been in the works for over two years. Salmond should have been down in Brussels every other week glad-handing EU politicians (whether he'd be able to do any deals pre-independence with the EU, wouldn't matter -- but it would show the Scots that he was committed to the EU). He should have been golfing and schmoozing with the execs from the distillery companies saying "don't worry, we've got an IN with the EU". He should have been flying out to the Shetlands making sure the surely Norsemen in the Shetlands were sweet on the independence deal, too (after all, that's where the oil is, and weren't the Shetlands were making noises to secede from Scotland if Scotland went YES?).
Instead, Salmond relied on whoop-it-up patriotic rallies. And instead of schmoozing with the execs from the top economic players in Scotland, he was toadying up to Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump (that was when I started to have my doubts about Salmond as politician -- but what information I get is filtered through The Guardian and The Scotsman, so I admit I may not have the true picture of the man).
FYI, I live in California. Last time I checked California would have the 8th largest GDP in the world if it were be an independent country. If we had a chance to cut ourselves loose from the US, I'd probably vote NO (despite the crazies who are panting to dismantle US democracy [such as it is]). Why? I'm 55 years old, and I my income is in US$, and what meager pension I have is tied up in US investments -- or dependent on US Social Security. I can understand why the older demographic in Scotland voted NO. Salmond needed to close the deal with that demographic. There's only one way to battle FUD, and that's with confidence and with facts. He didn't. Heck, your buddy Paul Krugman was having doubts about Scotland's financial future as independent state. If I'm wrong about any of this, please correct me. But watching from the outside was like watching a slow train wreck.


See, Charlie, I half agree with you.

Yes, having multiple independent elements allows you both to match the required policy landscape more accurately, and limit the impact of 'things going wrong' in any one of them.

Problem is, they have to be independent, or at least substantially so, and the problem with the SNP tilt at independence is ... they never would be. The whole thing was profoundly dependent, first on lots of people helping them out when they had no reason to do so, and then on others to backstop the SNP lack of planning. It wasn't the idea of independence that I was against - it was the p*ss poor attempt the SNP made at delivering it (and the way Cameron agreed too readily).

And whilst you say that you see breaking up countries as a solution to the failure modes of the political process - I say (up in @2) that you don't fix the failure and corruption by chopping it up into little bits; you fix it by fixing it - at the rotten root.

It looks very much as if Cameron is going to be able to define the narrative of 'regional devolution' along a path that both gives him what he wants (more power in tory hands, forever) and leave the rotten root untouched. I have no confidence in the Labour lot to present a better alternative view, both because they are **** and because they also want the same power structure and continuation of the same ol' same ol' - part of the problem.

The fix would have to come from outside, and I'm not seeing anyone with the brains to spot the game being played standing up.


"Very public promises have been made, which it is going to be very difficult to wriggle out of."

Is there something in the water in the UK, which either (a) makes politicians keep their word, or (b) makes people think that they would? From my (US) perspective, that's what it looks like.

"So SOMETHING will be done, but I suspect it will be too little & heavily rigged."

Which is important, because they can do a *lot* of stuff which is nothing, and more which is destructive.

"What "racist backlash"?
Maybe some people, who should have been locked up years ago will get it ( Not looking at Rotherham or Tower Hamlets, hem, hem! ) because people were afraid of being accused of racism, but the real racists are (now) a tiny minority & much disliked."

I understand you - in the USA, the police can hardly pump a few dozen bullets into an unarmed black man, without having their tender, sensitive feelings hurt by vicious accusations of racism. I mean, they won't get into trouble for it, and the prosecutor (between card games and drinking with the police) will almost never actually try to *prosecute* the police for it, but gosh darn it sure does make a feller tear up a little, while cleaning his gun.


One of the things that I feel (from my limited perspective and knowledge) is that the British press has now proven how solidly 'embedded' in the elites it is. When the elites were threatened, they dropped even trying to look objective.

That will make the politicians in charge feel much less compelled to keep their word (to non-elites).


In particular, doubts about Scotland's future on the pound or euro, rather than having its floating own currency like a real country.

Meanwhile, just passed. Independence even at economic cost looks more attractive now.


"Private Eye" have long distrusted Salmond, even more than they do all politicians. They reported his crawling to Murdoch, too.


- & also barry @ 113 .....


See headlines here

Also, late on "Today" this monring (being a Saturday, I was listening an hour later) it was painfully obvious that the tories, having been given a very bad fright, realise that something substantial has to be done ( Whether they will do it right is another matter) & that a general devolution of powers & increased localism has to be delivered.
The Lem-0-Crats, of course, have this as party policy, though they want to go bottom-up & constitutional convention - which could be too slow.
Laboiur want to delay & kick it into the long grass ...
To the point where Jim Naughtie got annoyed with the Labour spokesthing for prevarication.

All very interesting, in a "Chinese" sense.


Soory to come back, but your cynical remarks about US racist police have been gone through here already, in the S Lawrence case.
We won't be going there again ......

What does need addressing is the thorough corruption, & only too obviously not just of the police, which has come to light (in Rotherham) - which is why officialdom is trying desperately not ot take official notice.
They migh have to do something & clean up their act, if it came to said official notice, after all.


$WIFE is probably eligible for a Canadian passport, but we'd need to chase up a decades-cold paper trail and employ an immigration lawyer to prove it. In another month I could acquire an Israeli passport without rendering myself liable for military service, but ... nope, not going there, that's a whole different rabbit hole full of batshit crazy.

The upper conscription age limit in IDF is 29 years, I was under an impression that you are somewhat older. :-)

Not that I recommend immigration from UK to Israel. The HDI is roughly the same, but your neighbors are so much better...


Basically yes. We don't have much separation of powers, we have much stronger accountability at Westminster only the commons is elected so as well as the preponderance of legal power only the commons has the democratic legitimacy to use those powers so the commons is even more dominant in practise. Basically whoever controls the commons is the government and has the power to implement whatever it has promised to do, the upshot of this is that if they don't do what they said they were going to do they cannot blame anyone else. So they pretty much do what they had promised to do.

The US has strong separation of powers but that results in little accountability. If a policy fails to be implemented the two chambers of congress and the president all blame each other for nothing happening and as they all have democratic legitimacy none has any great moral reason to back down. As it is unlikely that the same party controls all three the opposition can block policies it dislikes. The supermajority rules in the Senate means that a party with 41 seats in the senate can effectively block a policy supported by everyone else. The excessive veto points in the US system means that accountability is very poor.

On the whole parliamentary systems seem to be more stable and less vulnerable to coups as they are a lot less inclined to prolonged paralysis.


Many of the proponents of independence were busy coming up with any non-nationalist argument so as not to draw any stigma, so they framed their case in ambiguous social and political terms. (I think Charlie's argument went along those lines). This is why they failed, I think. There was too much rationality for something that, by definition, was not supposed to be rational. Independence should have been pitched as an act of national emancipation that might involve hardship and suboptimal economical arrangements if need be. It was easy then for London to dissuade Scots by simple economical fear mongering.


Charles More in the Torygraph mentioned in an article how he expects it to pan out:

"The logic of devolution means that any body gaining more powers to tax must receive less central subsidy."

I think I can see where this is going with regard to Scotland.


To spell it out, the more devo Scotland gets the less money it will receive from England and the more tax the Scots will have to pay. They will then blame the English and/or the SNP.

As a worst case, Scotland descends into a spiral of govt tax and spend with companies and people heading South for tax reasons.


Would a more devolved UK look like Canada? With the various regional 'parliaments' being a lot like Canadian provinces?


From the point of view of an informed "yes" supporter, the BBC showed disgraceful levels of bias throughout the campaign -- the sort of level of bias one expected from the TASS news agency in the USSR, not a supposedly neutral broadcaster.

In combination with their behaviour during the Iraq invasion, I now rate the BBC's reliability and accuracy as highly questionable if an issue is important enough to have drawn the attention of their owners and masters in Westminster: on stuff like Sport or Science reporting they're okayish and probably unbiased, but on affairs of state they're a craven government mouthpiece.

Mind you, they weren't the worst of the media. Go and buy the current issue of PRIVATE EYE and read what it alleges about the Daily Telegraph's political editor if you want a real WTF moment about our fair and balanced press.

(NOTE: attempts to quote the article in question or paraphrase it here will be deleted immediately by the moderators and any commenter who does so will be banned PERMANENTLY because they didn't get the memo about UK law and libel. I trust the Eye's editors to have sources they can produce in court if they're sued for libel -- they know how the game is played -- but I don't have such primary sources, nor do I have a deep enough pocket to defend myself if said journalist decides to go after people who repeat the allegations.)


Oh, right. I know that the upper age for the month-per-year of service is nearer to 50, though.

(My personal take on Israel is probably like that of a citizen of the Netherlands on the subject of Apartheid era South Africa: utterly deplorable, violent, racist, politics, and a permanent state of paranoid siege, make me deeply uncomfortable about having anything to do with those people. Nor is the bad behaviour of some of their neighbours an excuse for shelling and bombing civilian residential areas and committing war crimes. (About seventy years ago we hanged a bunch of Nazis for committing atrocities under the excuse of "collective responsibility"; let's not forget that punishing Bob for Alice's crime is itself a crime.)


Oh, right. I know that the upper age for the month-per-year of service is nearer to 50, though.

The reserve service is never month-per-year unless you are a volunteer (some people actually like it, it's like a vacation with your old army buddies, and they have to pay you the same salary you get from your job) or a badly needed specialist (special forces, medicine etc). More like a week or two once-per-several-years. And anyway, you need serve in the regular army first, and you can't be recruited due to age.

About seventy years ago we hanged a bunch of Nazis for committing atrocities under the excuse of "collective responsibility"; let's not forget that punishing Bob for Alice's crime is itself a crime.)

Did we hanged anyone for the fire-bombing of Dresden? For Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? ;-)

The farther away you are, in space or time, from a conflict, the bigger is the temptation to declare both sides equally bad. I bet than in 100 years we will not see much difference at all between the Allies and the Axis.


The BBC also lies by omission on a very consistent basis by not reporting all the facts available.


And if you want more stuff that will never be aired in the UK press, just google "UK government Pedophiles". I have no idea of the truth of the allegations, but the state of UK politics and the Establishment is such that it would not surprise me if they were true.


"Did we hanged anyone for the fire-bombing of Dresden? For Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? ;-)"

The winners do not get hanged. See Israel as an example.


Unfortunately the events laid out in seem to be happening, one by one. (Asking "whose oil is it anyway?" leads to a separate debate that I am ignoring for now.) Sticking to the letter of the Barnett formula is what "The Vow" seems to mean, and this is not contradicted by reading the many pronouncements of the PM and Labour. This would then create a huge services crisis in Scotland as the devolved government scrambles to make up the funding shortfall. Austerity max, in other words; yet another market fundamentalist experiment in which Scotland is the guinea pig. I really hope I am wrong.


It was a month-per-year last time I asked, which admittedly was back in 1982. (Hint: a youthful zionist leadership training tour had the opposite effect on me to what was intended.)

Did we hanged anyone for the fire-bombing of Dresden? For Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? ;-)

Actually, under international law as interpreted after the war, we would have: that sort of mass-bombing of civilians is unquestionably seen as a war crime today.

As it is, Arthur "Bomber" Harris supposedly didn't get ennobled because even his political masters had qualms about his planned massacres of civilians (for example, at Dresden) -- even when other RAF Chief Marshals ended up with a title in the House of Lords, Harris just got a quiet knighthood. And don't get me started on Curtis LeMay -- who nearly started WWIII (with nukes) before Kennedy shitcanned him.

I will concede that WWII was a special case and the Nazis were unbelievably horrible. But the Allies did some pretty shitty things in the process of defeating Hitler and friends. (The grotesque mismanagement of the Bengal Famine of 1943 springs to mind. Or, more deliberatively, the London Cage torture centre in Kensington Palace Gardens.)


About seventy years ago we hanged a bunch of Nazis for committing atrocities under the excuse of "collective responsibility"

Let's not forget that those Nazis were hanged for genocide, not just for killing civilians under the excuse of "collective responsibility".


Ah, Charlie, so you are niow claiming the BBC are a dangerously right-wing biassed source, at the same time that the right-wing libertarians are claiming that the same BBC is a a dangerously biassed left-wing source?
[ snark? ]
You have certainly confused me!

P.S. Everyone - if you don't read "Private Eye" - please do, nothing like it for the real dirt in this country.
BUT I endorse Charlie's warning about "libel" quotes.


Ahem: both. A bunch were executed for genocide -- but there were a lot of other war crimes trials going on at the same time, not all on the same charge sheet.


There's a one-place response to that, which I have already mentioned - it's between Sheffield & Doncaster.


At the time... they were not "War Crimes".
BUT (again) they were made war crimes very shortly thereafter ... possibly to make sure the same mistakes ( & at the time they were "mistakes") did not get repeated .....


For readers in the UK & Ireland only.
If you possibly can, get hold of a paper copy of this weekend's edition of the "FT" - paywalled on-line, uinfortunately.
They have a whole set of very well-written, carefully reasoned articles on the past, present & future, during & after the referendum which is the real subject of this blog entry.
Including all the caveats about broken &/or postponed promises, & why, of all people, it is Labour & Milibean who are trying to weasel-out fastest.


I refer you to the Andrews Suffield and Deacon in this very thread. Particularly post #11.

The social dynamic that drives politics-as-usual is a familiar one and SKapusniak at #99 sketched out the probable course of events. *If* we, the English, let it play out under politics as usual.

The Scottish referendum had a probable course of events as well however, but the Scottish demos went radically off script (well played Yes campaign) and my word didn't the Westminster pols have to scramble to come up with a half-way credible response? You could practically smell the fear 10 days ago.

That could happen again in England. It probably won't, but it could. If, as is likely, it doesn't happen then we'll end up with some cack-handed fudge that will screw the lid back on to the pressure cooker for a while longer but the Union will be fucked longer-term.

The UK might well see me and Charlie out, but I suspect my kids will find having the options granted by a German passport helpful.



As it is, Arthur "Bomber" Harris supposedly didn't get ennobled because even his political masters had qualms about his planned massacres of civilians.

Or scapegoated, in other words.

Harris was not responsible for the formulation of bombing policy, in any meaningful sense. He was carrying out the policy of the War Cabinet, or to put it another way, Churchill and his unelected advisers, chief among them...

who became Viscount Cherwell.

Harris's immediate superior, area bombing enthusiast Charles Portal, also got a Viscountcy.

Churchill got Greatest Living Englishman status [ugh] and refused both an earldom and a dukedom.

The bomber aircrew, of course, who risked their lives day and night, obeyed their orders and did the killing, didn't even get a campaign medal.

plus ça change


Well Greg, there is a different view point to the FT here-

but you will not agree with them(other commentators may)


Nor were any Nazis hanged for obliterating Warsaw, Rotterdam, London, Coventry, Plymouth, Liverpool, Clydeside, Belgrade, Minsk, Leningrad et al from the air.

They were charged with
i) crimes against peace
ii) individual war crimes [and many were commited on the battlefield by all branches of the Wehrmacht]
iii) crimes against humanity [not Genocide]
iv) conspiracy to commit the above

That they were put on trial at all, was down to that devotee of show trials, Stalin.

Churchill and FDR favoured summary execution.

Don't see what this has to do with Scottish independence, devolution or anything, mind you.

Me, I'm waiting for the English independence vote. I would be quite happy to see the United Kingdom of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall. ;-)

How long would it last, I wonder?


Everyone knows who's watched the BBC news since the Miner's Strike onwards, realises the Beeb bends their knees to whichever bunch of crooks is in charge of the UK political executive, and skews the news in their favour.

The Falklands War was the death knell of anything even remotely resembling BBC impartiality.


No*, he's saying that the BBC are establishment biased, which at the moment means economically right wing, albeit not libertarian barking mad which is one of the reasons the libertarians don't like it, the other being that it's an example of a public service done pretty well, which destroys one of their arguments against such things; somewhat authoritarian because the establishment is authoritarian, but socially liberal because everyone is nowadays, persecuting gays and such is so last century.

*Yes, I see the snark tag



This is why, when I referenced the Tory Blair - Lord Of Wars - latest Malfeasences in a thread not to far distant, as defended by his very own Spin Doc, who was doubtless carefully selected for that role, with his own added personal training Spin Sauce of the " Alastair John Campbell (born 25 May 1957) is a British journalist, broadcaster, political aide and author, best known for his work as Director of Communications and Strategy for prime minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003. Campbell describes himself as a communicator, writer and strategist" on his website, while others have described him as Labour's "unelected, but ... hardly underscrutinised" spin doctor.[3] " .. kind I linked to a piece in the rather Right Wing " Mirror " and not the " Eye " which publication does tend to attract attention from the political establishment and be discounted as a heavily biased left wing rag by everyone else.

Oh, incidently,you said, way back then ..

" .. Unless, of course you are posting in heavy-handed irony - at this point it is diifcult to distinguish, err .... "

Is it possible to be too Ironically Heavy Handed in this, British, political, context?

Oh, and an ever so mild comment that also, may, just possibly fit into the context of the divisions in British Political Life? You said ..

" Please grow up? I am a lifelong resident of the Little Village (London)The picture you paint is at least 150% false. Please stop it? "

It does seem to me that there are two views on London, one is from the perspective of Londoners looking Out - and who Love their City - and the other is from the perspective of eveyone else who look into to a City that is increasingly looking very strange indeed.



The answer to your question is a bit complicated.

When our politicians write things in their manifestoes they, if elected, are able to use that as a democratic contract between them (as the government) and the people - their democratic mandate - to force bills through the (unelected remember and therefore not democratically representative) upper house if the upper house don't like it (with a couple of constitutionally enshrined exceptions, like bills to extend their lifetime without an election beyond 5 years).

Bills they introduce that are not in the manifesto have no such automatic ability to be forced through.

The nature of the bills might depart from what the public expect from reading the manifesto (the various reforms of the NHS are not what we were led to believe) and there are issues with coalition governments because obviously there isn't a manifesto that can be regarded as binding in the same way, but we don't get them in the same way.

When politicians TALK rather than WRITE they lie in a million different ways, just like they do in the US.

They outright just lie - "There will be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS" and "There will be no stealth privatisation of the NHS" for example, both courtesy of Callmedave, one of which has happened, one of which seems to be happening.

They have slanging matches over statistics that sound at first like they're calling each other liars (which they're not actually allowed to do, it's unparliamentary language) but which are subtly different and would make the most pedantic statistics professors cringe at the way they're used. They often wrap these up in the most crazy political statements too, to score points off the other side that aren't actually justified if you look in the round (both sides do this, they're absolutely as bad as each other).

Sometimes they just misuse the statistics - the NAO catches them at this and tells them off. IDS is really bad for this in the current government, if you hear a statistic from him, the chances are really high that the NAO will issue an advisory that it's wrong, that the statistics don't or can't support what he is saying. The most recent one I saw, Callmedave got smacked, all his data about migrants taking jobs is just wrong. (The previous government was a bit better than the current one on this, mainly because it had more people that checked their data before it let people out of the door to make statements, but they had their fair share of it too.)

So, the written vow... it's not a manifesto pledge, but for a lot of people it's triggering that kind of trust response. You promise it in writing and you'd better damn well deliver.


What Scotland is going to get out of this is all the economic and austerity downside of independence, without self determination. In all but name, they are going to be punished for voting No.


Someone mentioned what bad news they might be hiding.
Alex of Yorkshire ranter fame has a post on the topic, turns out to be the usual privatising the NHS and being evil stuff:


Something I haven't seen mentioned too often in this thread is that not everyone opposed to independence was right wing.

Ken Macleod, posting another's short statement, Wednesday Sep 17:


re burying changes, there's been hardly any press about it, but the "Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill" also known as the "Gagging Law" was rubber stamped on Friday and became law. That's the one that limits organisations from lobbying or spending money on campaigning for 12 months before an election. Just in time then.


The Falklands War was the death knell of anything even remotely resembling BBC impartiality.

When the ultra-right (aka theDaily Nazi) were calling for BBC lefties & traitors to be sacked?
When a country was attacked without warning by military invasion froma semi-fascist miltary dictatorship?
Somehow, I think your vision needs new spectacles.

[ Of copurse, it could have all bee avoided if the madwoman had done what Callaghan did, & also not promised to cut defences, the traitress. ]


It does seem to me that there are two views on London, one is from the perspective of Londoners looking Out - and who Love their City - and the other is from the perspective of eveyone else who look into to a City that is increasingly looking very strange indeed.

Thank you.
So true.
Has almost always been that way.

Except, because of experience of my grandmother's residence in deepest Lincolnshire, where, in the 50's I spent at least 3 weeks each year, I have been told "you're a real countryman"
Strange? Well, yes.


Yes, nasty, isn't it?
HOWEVER ...AIUI if a Trade Union is affiliated to the Labour Party (as many are) then they will (I think) be allowed to lobby & sampaign, because they are already "party members" - if you see what I mean.
Someone correct me, please, if I've got this wrong?

The real problem comes with other non-party-political pressure groups, such as the environmentalists [ *note], anti-slavery campaigners, etc.....

*note[ NOT the vile & hyporcitical "Green" party, of course, who appear to be just another variety of Stalinist as far as I'm concerned.


I shall take great joy in David Cameron's departure from Downing Street. He has shown us what politicians will do when they are scared enough.

My experience of London is of a city of fine people, who exemplify the best of British values regardless of their ancestry, who suffer the common fate of the English: rule by an exploitative elite.

In my experience, that exploitative elite is poorly represented by the hereditary peerage. No wonder most of them were kicked out from Parliament. The paper wealth of agricultural land is little different from the paper wealth of your house, and that land cannot be relocated from Edinburgh to London at the stroke of a headline. We even have some of them here, "oop North".

The scary thing is that we have had peace, and the Elite don't seem to like it. They lose so many opportunities to rip us off, whether it is a military contract for over-priced hammers or the chance to sell weapons to our friends of the moment. It is their solution to the problem of a low-paid workforce who cannot buy the goods they produce.

And the predatory elite seems to have its own Jannissaries. The Ottomans took Christian children and trained them to oppress their subjects. The predatory elite depends on Essex Del-boys, extravagantly paid, to do their dirty work.


When a country was attacked without warning by military invasion froma semi-fascist miltary dictatorship?

Yes, that's the accepted consensus media narrative. Shame the documents released under the 30 years rule in 2012-13 don't really support it.


One feature of the morning after:

All the people who were trying to look rational and sensible about the issue revealing themselves to be the rabid loonies that they really are.


London is a world city, in a way that no other city in the UK is (Edinburgh included). Of course it looks strange looking in; it has more in common with the other world cities than it does with the provincial cities that are mere accretions of people.

Easier to uproot someone from London and stick them in Tokyo than it is to dump them in Bristol.

You are surprised that those that choose to play in that game will look outward, rather than inward? Their group, their tribe, spans the globe. The wants of Derby don't really register in that worldview.

And you think the same; or when, really, did you last think of the wants and desires of Little Wallop in how you viewed the world?


I have no intention of starting a derail, but can you expand on this? The foreign office were aware that Argentina might invade the Falklands at some point, but from memory they were surprised when it actually happened. I thought they were blindsided by military cuts, from on high, which sent mixed signals to the Argentinians about the British commitment to the Falklands. At least, that's my recollection of the official history, which had unfettered access to the British sources and was well-reviewed by professional historians.


A friend once told me that "Capital cities have more in common with ech other than with provincial cities (no matter how large) in the same contry."
My French is crap, but I feel perfectly "at home" in Paris
Exception: In the USA the "capital" is NYC, not Washington ....

And, of course, I am a lifelong inhabitant of "The Little Village" - for all that I know & love Manchester ....


"That they were put on trial at all, was down to that devotee of show trials, Stalin.

Churchill and FDR favoured summary execution."

This is the exact opposite of reality.


Barry is correct, according to all the history books I've ever read.


I never feel that London is qualitatively different to other cities in the UK when I visit.
It's big and noisy but the only UK City I've visited which felt foreign is Glasgow.
Londoners are very parochial. Only in London can you hear people say things like "I've never been to Manchester but I went to Watford once." when they ask where you come from.


Actually, what I don't understand is this enthusiasm for federalism or regioal assemblies etc in England. As far as I can see, it is driven by a political class that bears some relation to a cancer, wanting to insinuate itself into every nook and cranny of the country and grow as large as possible, and a media which feeds off entertaining goings on.

Normal people in the street aren't bothered. And I've yet to hear a good answer as to why you can't just stop Scots MP's voting on matters that affect only England.



History books always need updating.

When Stalin suggested executing 50000 top Nazis at Teheran in 1943, and Churchill on that occasion, objected, FDR joked "49000 should be enough"


Ho Hum, " The Little Village" ? Eh wot? Put that into google as, " "The Little Village" london” and you get ' About 4,990,000 results (0.36 seconds) ! So. Right, let’s see now, first up...

" The Wanstead Toy Box & The Little Village in Chingford
3 February
We are saddened to have to say but The Wanstead Toybox has closed its doors. Thank you all for your support during our short seasonal stay. Our venture has proven to be untenable at this time in our family life. We can be contacted at our Chingford branch. Feel free to visit us there."

Err, right, right, only 4,990,099 to go eh?

This could take awhile and so whilst we wait let’s consider something that’s just occurred to me and that is that even amongst the traditional list of Notable World Cities as noted in history - Paris, Rome, New York and so forth - and listed in the local agencies for Fashion Houses and so forth, London, amongst maybe one or two other Cities, is something Exceptional.

Too Early to LOOK SMUG Greg! I haven’t finished yet.

By that I mean that London has, thanks to the lessons learned from Terrorist Attack after terrorist attack, become a DEFENSABLE World City.

That is to say that, in modern terms, it has become a City in which the displaced Super Rich of The Greater World can hunker down within the modern defences of The Ring of Steel at quite modest cost...these days called ‘ permanent right to remain ‘ .. and thus onwards towards full British Citizenship.

It is now quite inexpensive in the world of the Super Rich to buy British Citizenship. A modest bank account plus a fairly modest flat... £1,000,00 or so say .. And you are IN, and into a civilised City that has built in defences against terrorist attack and fairly unobtrusive heavily armed guards with support by security scanners /cameras/ sound pickups/ motion sensors and so forth stuff and beyond that we aren’t allowed to know about lest WE become alarmed and protest. Oh, and whilst protests do exist but they are fairly civilised and containable...

" But, again, he cautions that "symbolically in Britain people have never been comfortable with the idea of militarised force on the streets" and no UK prime minister would want to be remembered as the one who broke this decades-long tradition.

And he warns that, operationally, there could be a culture clash between police officers used to dealing with civil unrest and armed forces trained for military combat.

Additionally, Prof Waddington says there would be further logistical headaches: "What are you going to equip them with? If not carrying firearms, what would they have?" "

What indeed?

Anyway in the New World City that is London it may not need to go that far. After all the various Occupy movements piddled out under the awesome force of the need to go home, have a shower, and leave your Occupy Tent behind ..I've seen more ferocious crowds waiting to buy the latest I Phone than the timid middle class Occupy Mobs.

So, London is hugely desirable as a home base for the New Super Rich. London’s Super Gated Enclosure for the Super Rich...average home, tiny shoe box of a flat, price up to £500,000 yet? .. Is something fairly new in the world? Not many world capitals match its highly desirable specifications.

If OLD Time Londoners don’t watch out one of these days they are going to awaken to discover that Londoners are now living in an exotic Mixture of Theme Park for Tourists and City wide Gated Community for the Super Rich.

Oddly enough I don’t think that either Paris or, say, Berlin is going to fit comfortably into that category in the foreseeable future. There are all sorts of reasons for that...Geographical location, history, political reality and so forth.. But, LONDON ? LONDON is the PERFECT fit!

Oh, and in the interests of disclosing personal prejudices? Whilst I do really do like London a lot, I **** Bloody HATE, HATE, Hate The London Eye! Disney Land on Thames...just saying.

Mind you if I were to be reincarnated in the form of a building I'd like to be that building in London that makes a fair old stab at setting cars on fire. That would be COOL, in a Hot sort of way.


Up here where I now live, in Sunderland, people often ask ME where I come from .. and I was born in Sunderland.

Mind you I have been told that I have a perfect 'Received Pronunciation English' accent and have been told once or twice that I sound like Lord Peter Whimsey in the TV series. This latter most recently by a woman said that she used to work for the B.B.C. and that if she had met when she was working ' back home ' she could have got me a job just on the strength of my voice.

Now she tells me! But then she used to be a Londoner before she had the misfortune/good fortune to marry a native of the North East of England.

Its a small world here in England.


Just lately I Have become really fed up with the slugs and snails attacking the plants in my modest container garden round the back of my house and I've finally given in to necessity and scattered slug pellets about whilst forbidding my little friend Shona The Keeshond of The Baskervilles access to the garden for the time being.

It’s been very successful as chemical warfare goes - Dead Slugs everywhere - and so I wonder...Has anyone tried sprinkling slug pellets on David William Donald - 'call me Dave' - Cameron ?


silburnl answered that back at comment 70: what happens when a Government that depends on Scottish MPs is elected?


It's also the accepted view of most of the participants - as Justin pointed out, there was the necessary bit of groupthink involved in ignoring the warning signs. That kind of thing doesn't need conspiracy - after all, look at the Intelligence Lieutenant in Southern Command who predicted the Egyptian attack five days in advance of the Yom Kippur War; he kept trying to escalate his warning, his boss kept stifling him.

The irony was that the proposed Conservative cuts would have got rid of many of the outdated escorts that performed poorly in the Falklands (and got binned anyway); it's all very well having lots of ships, but if they can barely protect themselves, they're an accident waiting to happen. See Type 12 as an example - I mean, why bother?

The realisation that the warnings had been there, and had been ignored, were the reason Lord Carrington resigned as Foreign Secretary soon as he could. The FO had failed in its primary task; he held the ultimate responsibility.


Anyway, the amusing thought is that Cameron probably thinks a healthy dose of the Scotland Act is a good thing. If Holyrood can't stay within budget, it's only recourse is to raise taxes. Making grandiose promises is all very well, but you still have to pay for all of those free university places, free prescriptions, free care for the elderly. If the Scottish people are willing to pay for this, then great - but it's more likely to trigger a pushback. Similarly, Westminster can't then be blamed for any austerity. The more policy and budget is owned by Holyrood, the less the "callous Tory Westminster bullyboys" can be blamed by the party faithful.


That's what I meant.

The BBC tried to be even-handed in the Falklands conflict, there being a huge communications void in which either side could make extravagant claims about how things were going, and the usual right-wing bullies queued up to castigate the BBC for suggesting both sides might be being economical with the facts.

UK Armed Forces never, EVER lie to the media, and to even hint that they might do on behalf of their establishment paymasters is tantamount to treason, was and is the Tory media outlook.

Never again, thought the BBC.

Leading to the Miners Strike Orgreave incident, where footage of pickets defending themselves against an unprovoked attack by mounted police was broadcast ahead of the actual attack.

The BBC's attitude to the Independence Referendum can be summed in the phrase "One of the B in their name stands for 'British' and the C DOESN'T stand for 'Caledonia'"


This would be a complete thread derail.

I've read the documents in question. (It's nice to a have a day job which requires that sort of thing.) If Charlie seconds the request, I'll write up a post about what the relevant documents actually say.


Mike Collins@163 - No, they say the same kind of thing in New York - the "New Yorker's View of the World" cartoon nailed it. My take is that big cities have more geographical depth as most people can handle.


Not that I can speak for Charlie but I would be very interested to read that write up.


!. You can let up on the IRONY, huh?
2. Wanstead & Chingford, huh?
Close, but not quite.
Try Walthamstow, instead
3. "Little Vllage" - you really didn't get the quote & it is a quote, & from a work of SF, too!
The Story is: "As Easy as ABC" [ R Kipling, 1912 ]


UK Armed Forces never, EVER lie to the media, and to even hint that they might do on behalf...

Come budget time of course, the three services can be relied upon to fight like puppies in a sack, then divided and conquered by the Treasury at will - not helped by the MoD's lack of competence at budget management.

However, Army senior management (or at least their staffs, and not-quite-top people) are woefully bad at understanding this.

Look at the situation regarding the Reserve Forces; until the 1990s, we had a TA of 70,000 that was growing. These soldiers were among the ones who deployed in 2003 at a rate of 1.1 mobilisations to every deployed soldier, compared with 7 deployment notices for every deployed member of the Regular Reserve (which was abandoned after this poor showing).
Comes the shrinking of the Regular Army, because we can't afford a professional army of 100,000, after successive Generals have repeated their insistence that they absolutely must have a Regular Army that large to keep a force of 10,000 deployed...

...and there's a drip-feeding of whiny stories to the gullible Defence Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Most describing the TA as "Captain Mainwaring" or "a drinking club", and complaining that they can't possibly recruit the 30,000 reservists needed by the new plan. The Adjutant-General getting a Directorship with the same firm appointed to manage Army recruiting is near criminal, but the fact that MoD lied to the bidders about the IT infrastructure they would provide goes somewhere to explaining why it's been such a failure. For once, the large contractor beloved of Private Eye can just point to the IT and say "unfit for purpose", and be right.

If you want a really scary thought, read this unclassified version of one of the Army's own internal reports on its operational performance in 2003...


I don't count myself as a member of the political classes: I've never been a member of a political party for example, although I'm perhaps more engaged than most in that I've voted in every election where I've been eligible to vote.

I agree, there's a lot of apathy about political issues - it's one of the things that the Scottish referendum changed dramatically, the level of engagement by everyone and the turnout.

But if you talk to people who are interested in seeing the country well governed and are not part of the Westminster village, regional devolution is mentioned and discussed as a viable alternative. It's not my preferred alternative - I favour a destruction of the traditional political classes and a more modern but essentially Swiss-style genuine democracy without the representative bit. (I don't pretend it's a perfect system but I think it's a better system and harder to game. It will make a lot of decisions I don't like and not everyone will make informed decisions but the chance to make informed decisions will be there.)

But the Westminster/Whitehall model of governance is broken - a lot of people who don't have their ambition focussed on achieving power within that system agree with that, even if they express that agreement as "whoever you vote for, the government gets elected."

The "English MPs have more powers within Westminster than other MPs" model that we're seeing floated makes it more broken, not less IMO. An English parliament to go with a Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish might work... but if you're going to do that, considering regional devolution should be on the table. The way the North of England's markets, housing and so are behaving bear no resemblance to those in London - but currently there's no ability to apply decisions granularly.

A federal UK with some carefully thought through balance of powers could remove the West Lothian question for once and for all, give the granularity to let the regions each govern themselves in their own best interest and, in a phrase I truly hate, let UK PLC, flourish better as each of it's divisions do their best. Currently UK PLC is slaved to the financial sector because it has the biggest turnover, and that essentially means we're all slaved to London. We've seen that seemingly good, although causing a migration to London, and we've seen how bad it is when it goes wrong. But the solution seems to be... "We'll slave ourselves to the financial sector again, they'll come good in the end."

The nay-sayers can point at lots of examples of course, of where this approach doesn't work. The US being an obvious one. But a federal Germany works quite nicely, so the system can work if we pick a model that's more sensible than the US one.


Federal government works in Germany but the modern German state grew from smaller states with strong local identities and also a strong German liguistic and cultural identity.
I'm not sure this would work in the UK but I think it's a least worst choice.
An English assemby might work but must be outside London - I would suggest Sheffield as a good site. However I think it would be too big compared to Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish assemblies.


Obviously it's Charlie's decision at the end of the day but I too would be interested in a guest post on the origins of the Falklands War.



> UK Armed Forces never, EVER lie to the media

In Ireland, the perspective is 'interestingly different'


"...but the modern German state grew from smaller states with strong local identities..."

This is true, but can be overstated I think. The current roster of Laender certainly includes places like Bavaria which can point to a long prior history of being their own thing before the rise of the modern German state; but it also includes places like North Rhine-Westphalia which had no shared cultural or political identity prior to their being glommed together into a Land to suit the purposes of the founders of the Bundesrepublik.

Of course Germany as currently constituted wouldn't exist without the catastrophe that was Nazism and its aftermath. If that's the order of systemic shock needed to clear the current constitutional logjam in the UK then let's break up pronto and go our separate ways.



I have similar feelings about the reliability of the English, er "British" Broadcasting Corporation.


I don't really know modern German society well, but I remember Bismark and the unification of Germany from history lessons. I also remember the Danelaw as the last time we strictly had separate countries within modern England, the defeat of Glyndour, and the Act of Union of course for Wales and Scotland. (Sorry Ireland, my grasp of the morass of Irish history is a bit shakier there.)

But I think if you look at Mebyon Kernow, (or more likely Devon and Cornwall for a regional government) the people of Tyne and Wear, Yorkshire and Humber, Merseyside, the West Midlands, East Anglia, the lakes and more, there are strong regional identities around in England. Many of those have strong accents we'd recognise still too.

I think, if strong regional identity is a prerequisite to making it work, there are enough of them out there to make it work. A few will be somewhat uncomfortable, groups of places joined together to make operational units of the right sort of size rather than having any real identity but there's a lot of strong identities still out there.

And frankly I'm not sure that's the only or even the main reason it works. They have a system that's designed to work - that is to let government do its business with suitable checks and balances in place. The US system seems designed to not work, or at least be very easy to game to deadlock.

I hope we don't need a revolution, a dictator or a war to get the kick to rebuild to a system that governs well (although a big part of me suspects we're too far gone into beige that we do).


"The answer to your question is a bit complicated.

When our politicians write things in their manifestoes they, if elected, are able to use that as a democratic contract between them (as the government) and the people - their democratic mandate - to force bills through the (unelected remember and therefore not democratically representative) upper house if the upper house don't like it (with a couple of constitutionally enshrined exceptions, like bills to extend their lifetime without an election beyond 5 years)."

Ah. So if they violate that, and if I were a British subject, I could then take the government to court? Is there any enforcement for this contract?


"When Stalin suggested executing 50000 top Nazis at Teheran in 1943, and Churchill on that occasion, objected, FDR joked "49000 should be enough""

Your quote contradicts your thesis.


I'd start with the Republic of Ireland, then maybe add Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to the "We hate those English wankers" club.


We won't take it personally. :-) The most immediately relevant events are probably the 1800 Act Of Union and the 1798 Rebellion that triggered it.


Maybe that's why he's on that "no salt" diet?


It's comments like "the most immediately relevant events..." that always make me very nervous! But thank you.


I don't know is the answer to whether we can take them to court.

But, equally, with the exception of this coalition government (where there wasn't a published manifesto) and given leeway for things being done in ways I didn't expect, I don't recall a manifesto promise that was clearly broken in my adult life. That doesn't mean they're not there of course but I don't remember any.

Governments have certainly done things that weren't in their manifesto, some of which you have to think they planned to do anyway, some of which are more clearly a response to things that have arisen during their time in office. Many of these they've lied about, through their teeth. Noticing what they don't say is pretty important too!


On US primaries:

Yes, we have them, but they're not as wonderful as they sound, depending on the state you live in. In my state, for example, you are only allowed to vote in a single party in a primary. If I want a Republican in one office and a Democrat in another, I'm not allowed to vote that way. In Illinois, the person handing you your ballot is required to state your party affiliation in a loud and clear voice. In some states, you must be a registered member of a party to vote in the primary. And nothing beats Iowa's old caucus system, where the 'voting' was done in the local party head's home.

It's my opinion that primary election in the US are a de facto example of corruption. It is a corrupt election that a citizen is not allowed to vote as they will, and where the ballot is set by two private non-profit corporations.

I don't object to primaries where the object is to cut down the number of candidates (and a few states have those).

My preference in elections would be that 'none of the above' is always a choice, and if he wins, the election gets done over, with none of the previous candidates allowed.

Still, it could be worse.


As an USAian who's been living in Stuttgart for the past five years, it appears that the German political identification is not that different from the American, and probably similar to that of most First World citizens - identification by nationality, then regionality, then ethnicity. Regional stereotypes still exist here (Swabians (Stuttgart) are cheap, Bavarians are partiers, etc.). The lack of ethnic assimilation works against national identity, but overall it's not that different here than in the States. The UK seems externally to be closer to the US attitude (if you're born here, you're one of us) than the German attitude.


"It's my opinion that primary election in the US are a de facto example of corruption. It is a corrupt election that a citizen is not allowed to vote as they will, and where the ballot is set by two private non-profit corporations."

Note - other parties can have primaries, as well. It's just that their only possible roles (with very few exceptions) is either as nothing or as spoilers for one of the two big parties.


You might be surprised, but this seems a good route to try to follow...
Kernow (including Devon)
"greater" Greater London,
"Kent" (Including Sussex & part of Surrey,
Anglia (including Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire the S two "counties" of Lincoln [ Holland & Kesteven IIRC ],
Mercia, Lancasria (including Cheshire),
Northumbria ( Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Lindsey & oh what-its-name, the big blank space in between those, ahem )
Does Northamptonshire go to Mercia or Anglia?
Or something like that - you might even call it "The new Heptarchy"


The Falklands thing was a lot murkier than it was painted. Yes, the Argentinian junta mounted an illegal invasion. But they did so after the Thatcher government basically tried to sell them the Falklands. A minister (IIRC it was Heseltine) was sent to explain to the islanders that HMG was outsourcing them to Argentina; he was pelted off the island with rotten fruit. At which point the FO got back to the Argentinian government and said, "erm, there's a bit of a hitch, hang on a bit." Because the hand-over was being negotiated in return for mineral rights, the Argentinian generals (who weren't terribly understanding of little matters of public opinion) interpreted this as, "the perfidious Brits are trying to screw more money out of us". And when HMS Endeavour was retired they decided to give up on waiting and call Thatcher's bluff. Quite possibly they expected to do a quiet back-room deal and get to keep the islands in return for those mineral rights -- they had no idea that British public opinion would go, "RAH! Colonial War!" and force Thatcher to send the fleet (or resign in disgrace).


It's Irish history: there's a lot of it, it all relates, and understanding it's like assembling a Mobius strip jigsaw someone's stolen a piece from. The 1798 Rebellion is a little special in that you can go "Strongbow lands->$Colonial_stuff->American/French style Enlightenment revolution" and elide the specifics of the intervening butchery and religious strife. Wrong, but usefully so. :-)

(The religious strife does crop up in a couple of atrocities, but the United Irishmen were just that, which was a remarkable accomplishment.)


You made one mistake @195. Leicestershire, Derbyshire,Nottinghamshire,Kestaven and Lindsey form a united whole formally known as The Five Boroughs,and are inhabited by the descendants of the Vikings. Monkey with us at your peril(Joke?)


As for the order of allegiances for Germans, it might depend somewhat. ;)

Generally speaking, Bavarians are somewhat notorious for their local patriotism. Examples? Well, let's start that German TV stopped with the national anthem after 1985 (before that, just somebody reading the last news, then some screens; oh, just two or three years before that change, we got a new social conservative gouvernment, why are you asking?), while the Bavarian local TV (BR) stopped with the Bayernhymne, followed by the German national anthem and the European anthem, before switching to the student and/or recreational drug user favourite, AKA Space Night. German Wikipedia says there are two other official "Bundesländer" hymns, for Hesse and Saarland, though they are not that prominent. The MDR playing the old GDR hymn "Auferstanden aus Ruinen" is just a nasty rumour. ;)

Actually, there is also a small seperatist party in Bavaria called the Bayernpartei, which is part of the same European alliance the SNP is in, though they stay in the lower single digit range. And, well, you know the jokes about Bavaria being the Texas of Germany, so they are somewhat to the right.

Not that I think most Bavarians are that keen on missing the opportunity to screw the rest of Germany politically by going independent. ;) Even if it means the BR has sometimes to pull the plug and play some brass music.

Beside that one, there are a number of ethnic minority parties like Danes, Frisians and Sorbs, though I'm not that sure how important they are. And then, there is this "Ostalgie" thing in the former GDR...

As for German regional political differences in general, my gut feeling would be they ar somewhat more pronounced than the UK ones, but that might be just a matter of perspective.


You didn't read the links, or the newly declassified material, then...

At Teheran, Churchill was objecting to the scale of what Stalin proposed, not the intention.

In demanding that the Nazi leadership be liquidated without so much as a trial, WSC was merely echoing public & War Cabinet opinion in the UK.

The great British public did NOT want trials. They wanted firing squads, even before the horrors of the Vernichtungslagers were revealed to them. Nor did the US public. In a 1944 Gallup poll, 2% of respondents wanted the Nazi leadership put on trial. An overwhelming majority wanted them dead.

People want desperately to believe the Allies were the virtuous ones in WW2. Slightly less worse than the alternative is the reality. Tony Blair once claimed that Britain went to war in 1939 to save the Jews.

I think he believed it, absence of historical evidence notwithstanding.


Minor quibble: there's a weird meme prevalent on the barking right in the USA to the effect that British people aren't citizens, but subjects. This is not in fact true (although it took an act of parliament in the late 1990s to make it unambiguously so).


Nicholas Ridley

He and Carlos Cavandoli met in Geneva in secret to work out a nice little leaseback agreement.

It was the objections of parliament rather than largely powerless islanders, that put the kibosh on it


I didn't mean it this way[1], I just thought that that was the correct term. I had actually written 'citizens' in first, then remembered I Wasn't in Kansas.


"People want desperately to believe the Allies were the virtuous ones in WW2. "

BTW, to me it's clear that that was your point, from about your first comment.


OKay, that's interesting. However you were only 2/3 correct, as according to the Guardian article, qupoting Liddell:

"Winston had put this forward at Yalta but Roosevelt felt that the Americans would want a trial. Joe supported Roosevelt on the perfectly frank grounds that Russians liked public trials for propaganda purposes. "


The backlash against the Barnett formula from North, Wales and NI makes this particular promise look undeliverable: not a good idea to add 'hate the scots' to the 'hate the english' rhetoric.


All very true, Charlie, but, as always in these matters, incomplete (We can never get a fully-complete account, of course)
As always the Thatcher guvmint was infected with both arrogance & incompetence.
The last bit is important - as is the sdditional info that not only public opinion, but the RN (in particular) told the madwoman, in no uncertain terem: "Either we show what we can do, or we just give up (as a nation) right now"
Even so she was reported to have wobbled ...
Her reputatiopn afterwards, built entirely on other people's efforts & contrary to what she was trying to do, is yet another reason I still spit on her memory.
As someone who used to think of himself a s a left-wing "one nation" tory in the mould of Disraeli & Macmillan, she revolted me then, never mind now.
Now, I suppose I'm, a "Whig".
There certainly isn't any party, long-term that I'd vote for .....


Should Leicester go into Mercia, though?
Remember I'm talking about the divisions BEFORE the Danish "Great Army" invaded .....
I thought monkeys were restricted to Hartlepool?
[ To furriners - don't even try to work that one out! ]


Let's see ...
Adolf had sneaked Sudetenland away,
invaded Czechoslovakia, supervised Kristallnacht, occupied Austria & then invaded Poland.
And we were NOT the virtuous side?
By what criterion?
NOTE: Horrible things done during the war, as purely military actions probably don't count - it's a war, & horrible things happen, even though they shouldn't. [ "Laws of War" - which change. ]
Also, by early 1945 (Bombing of Dresden - worst thing, IMHO "we" ever did) no one cared. We wanted it OVER at any price, especially if someone else was paying .....
Worst overall atrocity on the "allied" side was probably Katyn, & that happened whilst the USSR was half-allied to the Nazis, didn't it?


How big should a "devolved" assembly be? And I include a Westminster Parliament when only English MPs vote on an English matter.

Scotland, at 5.3 million people, is the largest of the devolved regions. The total for the three is a little over 10 million.

It is arguable that an England-only thingumajig at Westminster is way too big, representing over 50 million people. It's about three times the size of the biggest German lander, and most are smaller than Scotland.

Greater London has more people than Scotland, some 8 million. and would be a natural candidate to be its own devolved region.

There used to be 9 official English regions, matching the 9 European Parliament constituencies, having some large-scale roles not wildly different from local authorities. The Conservatives abolished these powers.

While some of the boundaries are a bit bizarre, this is maybe a better starting point than some of the past history.

It'll never happen, it feels way too sensible for politics.


My preference in elections would be that 'none of the above' is always a choice, and if he wins, the election gets done over, with none of the previous candidates allowed.

Charlie doesn't have a "like" system here, or I'd rate the above way up!


I came up with a slightly different plan. Reluctantly I included Kernow in Wessex as Plymouth (including attached but nominally separate areas like Plymstock and Saltash) on its own accounts for nearly a third of the population. Kent and Wessex are bordered by the A34, Kent swings round outside the M25 as far as the M40. Mercia and Anglia as yours, then I split Northumbria into West, East and North ridings. West is your Lancasria (couldn't remember the name), East is the empty bit as no-one else would want it, and North the Borders down to the Lakes.

The Senate of the Realms would alternate between Oxford and Harrogate.


Well, that's the least surprising thing to have happened recently; No-one has made a reply to hthis post!


The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should "pair" (a parliamentary practice to cover unavoidable absences and such) and never vote. We know they are supposed to disagree. You might allow an exception for a free vote, and for specific constituency business.

It's not as if it will change anything, and it will cover the possibility of a party/coalition leader from outside England.


Incidentally, it's very apparent from this Parliament that we Brits don't know how to do coalitions.


Of course Hitler would not have been able to do any of those thing, had the West - Britain and France - not refused to oppose his aggression.

The twenty-five thousand+ dead of Dresden is of course, a mere bagatelle compared to the four-hundred thousand dead and utter physical destruction of Warsaw alone by the Nazis, and the bestial devastation inflicted on the USSR and its people.

Goebbels' myth of 200000 dead at Dresden is his parting propaganda gift to the world, prior to his eminently well-deserv'd cranial lead poisoning.

The Allies committed two unforgivable crimes in World War II - they were better at Blitzkreig, and strategic and tactical bombing, than the Wehrmacht ever were.


Err, do we really have to go discussions about Appeasement Politics again?

From the look of it, Wiki hasn't even updated on use of the term concerning Russia and Ukraine, IS etc. ad nauseam.

Problem is viewing WWII in terms of Black vs. White, when in reality it was more like a Black (Maybe VERY dark grey in some corners) vs. Lighter Grey (also quite dark in some corners). YMMV if there were even some reversals...


BTW, AFAIK it's only sure Goebbels used cyanide. Shame he likely used a somewhat higher dosage than most of his victims, so it was quite fast...


Not that I seriously expect it to happen, but I agree, Greater London makes a sensible unit and gives an upper bound. Northern Ireland and Wales give us extant and sensible lower limits at 1.8 and 2.9 million respectively. Scotland seems like a good working size and conveniently close to the middle between Northern Ireland and Greater London.

So, we should aim for about 5-6 million, but keep some sense of regional identity as well - so we'd join Kent to Surrey and E. Sussex, not to Essex and Suffolk perhaps (not having lived down there, that might be exactly the wrong direction to go). We'd be more inclined to join Cumbria to Northumberland than to Lancashire and form a "Borders region" although that might be too low in population to actually work.

And, sorry Scotland, but the Barnett formula would suddenly disappear with England disappearing like that. Although I suspect if you had a formula based on some well-founded measure of need Scotland would continue to do pretty well out of the deal.


Antonia, if you've got time for the 2 hour rant, you might want to risk asking Charlie and myself about the Lemocrats and coalitions.


Er, the Barnett formula isn't just a reflection of population, but also of geographic area, and to some extent compensates at least one part of the UK North of the Severn-Wash line for the extreme unevenness of of distribution of MoD procurement points, 90%, repeat 90%, of which are South of that line.

Even without that, and even with the Barnett formula, more Treasury receipts are raised in Scotland than are disbursed here.


Charlie, our barking right, like so many ideologues, get really choosy about which details may be ignored. Considering fairly recent news, they are also mistaken about where citizens are more likely to be seen as subjects.


The current "East of England" region is Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Bedfordshire and has a populatio of about 5.5 million - similar to Scotland.


Until the panic towards the end, the "No" campaign was arguing for continuity, the "Yes" for change. The No campaign wasn't supposed to be proposing to make changes to improve things - they had no mandate to do so, different parts of the campaign wouldn't have agreed on what changes should be made or even what would be meant by "better" (i.e. Charlie's previous comment that the campaign wasn't based on a consistent ideology), and any proposal they did make would be vulnerable to the observation that it's pretty suspect to propose a change in the months before an independence referendum which you didn't think was a good idea in the preceding 300 years. The "No" position wasn't that changes couldn't be considered, just that this specific change was a bad idea and that changes should be made from within the UK.

(Most of this was abandoned towards the end, of course, meaning that, rightly or wrongly, status quo was effectively no longer on the ballot.)


There are historical reasons for much of that though, as evidenced by the way former military airbases litter the area.

However, your figure of 90% is distinctly unbalanced, and even putting all quick response units down south (yeah, Typhoons going supersonic nearby is bad enough, without them doing it all the way down from Lossiemouth) shouldn't get anywhere near that.

Want a training base? We've got one just over the border in South Cambs.


I'm going for the airport option, at least down here.

Region 1 - Heathrow and W
Region 2 - Gatwick and S
Region 3 - Luton and NW
Region 4 - Stansted and NE
Region 5 - LCA and London itself

Extend for East Midlands, &c

Annoyingly, it'd still leave me in a border region, between 3 and 4. I seem to spend my life not in the Home Counties, not in the Midlands, not in East Anglia


The problem with the Barnett formula continuing with a devolved England is that the division is basically England & Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. There would have to be a division within England for the new devolved authorities. That basically makes the assumptions that underpin the Barnett formula go beyond creaky. That's not to say the new formula might not come out with a number that happens to be close to or even higher than the current figure for Scotland.

Or there could be a complete devolution of taxation powers with every region setting its own tax rates with a population based payment into a central kitty for non-devolved powers like defence rather than central taxation and dispersal to the regions. Let the Tory heartland lower their tax rates and privatise their health services and require health insurance and the Labour heartlands raise their tax rates and improve their regional health services for those that live within their region. (Or whatever else they choose within their regionally devolved powers.) But again the Barnett formula no longer applies.

I'm certainly not opposed to uneven distribution of resources across the UK if we keep a central base to taxation with a limited ability to vary it locally. But if we do devolve so much, I just think the circumstances of the country will have changed so much since Barnett proposed the formula 36 years ago that a different formula for how we distribute the money to the ~10 regional/national assemblies would be required.


I don't understand why people seem to be going on about breaking up England in response to the Scottish no vote. England is a country, not a bunch of regions. It hasn't been a bunch of regions for a thousand years or so. Sure, I joke about England being multi-cultural because of the regional differences, but breaking it up into segments doesn't make sense, without a much larger scale breakup of everything else, from corporate power (yeah right, that'll happen) to France and the EU in general.


Because a federation based on the home nations won't work when one of the federal units is five times larger in population than the other three put together. The English tail would (continue to) wag the Union dog and the Scots|Welsh|Irish will end up seceding anyway.

Thus the talk about going to a structure of 12 regions with a typical population of 5-6 million apiece.



London is already a devolved region, albeit with very few powers.



Leicestershire, Notts, Derbyshire and (most of) Lincs already comprise the the East Midlands EU constituency.

They don't have the Humber shore of Lincs (which is in the Yorkshire EU constituency), but they got Northants in trade, so it's all good.



Er, I was referring to materiel procurement, not groceries!

And Ok it makes sense to have air bases near potential opponents' territory, but it doesn't make the same sort of sense for factories which then become more liable to air attack, and are in the area that you will lose first in the case of land invasion. (actually, Germany had the same sort of issue in WW2 with the Ruhr)


Yeah, that makes sense in principal, but it did leave "Worse Apart" with a campaign that consisted of 2 phases:-
1) Corrosive negativity
2) Panic and wild promises of something that had already been ruled out when it looked like "Yes Scotland" might actually win.


You're still not addressing the fact that Barnett makes part of its provision based on geographic area.


But the question is multi-fold - whether the solution would be worse than the problem, how much more expensive it would be with even more politicians; the loss of english identity, etc etc.
The thing is, I can see a regionalisation working quite well once we've dumped market capitalism as a method of organising outselves, but not before. The economic pressures are for concentration, not localism.


No. This is in part because I can't find a source that supports your contention - they all say it is solely population based. It is also in part because I haven't spelt out an alternative.

That's because I suck at writing such things. But there's no reason to assume a need based formula disregards area - there have been a number of central government and EU funding schemes that specifically address need that target rural areas, mountainous areas, island regions and the like based on their specific needs thanks to their dispersed population and relatively large areas. Why, as soon as you see 'needs based formula' assume this ignores those factors?

Finally, the second model I suggested in my post completely disposes of the need for the Barnett formula. If there's no central funding from central taxation, Scotland like all the regional governments sets its own tax rate and all the regional governments pay into a central kitty for defence and the other union-wide services, then a formula to determine the rate at which central disbursement of income tax to Scotland takes place doesn't make any sense.


The other problem with regionalising the UK and letting it all have different tax and spend powers, is that different parts of the UK do genuinely have different problems and access to capital, human and other, and it ignores the value of the larger whole. London may be a world city, but surely it is made more liveable by having the counties about it and the rest of England in which to holiday. Yet the rest of England can't generate enough money the way London can. Separate out the regions without central funding to even things out somewhat and some will turn into economic basket cases, and London will cruidse ahead, supremely uncaring as the northern cities depopulate. Well, okay, that's happening just now, but as much because the london based government refuses to spend money there.
And from the UK, the USA looks like a great example of how not to have a tax and spend varying federal system - from racism to failing schools and flight from suburbs, the areas involved would surely be better off with a more British way of doing things.


Jeremy Paxman, among others, would ask "What English identity?"

There's no particular reason for more politicians. We could sack the entire House of Lords, have a small Union parliament (it only deals with a small amount of work of non-devolved powers plus, perhaps acting as a second chamber for all the regional houses). The number might, conveniently, be similar to the number of Euro-constituencies since we already have them.

There's no obvious reason why the number of politicians in each regional government should be larger than the number of MPs from that region currently. It could possibly be less.

And in the long term, it's certainly possible the solution could be worse than the current problem. Whether in the short or medium term that is case I think depends on how badly you think the current system is broken. As a system of democracy I think it's essentially broken beyond a simple fix. As a system for the ultra-rich to rule and try and con the rest of us that we're governed (i.e. we have some influence and say) it seems to work ok. Breaking and restructuring like this might not fix it (I did say a long way higher up I'm in favour of a more radical restructuring than this) but I think this might be radical enough it will take a while for them to learn how to game the system.


And yet Germany manages to make it work... The US is not the only federal model in the world.


That is one of the major problems with a federal UK, but I'm not sure that a solution which starts by radically restructuring England is going to succeed. Not least because the problem is geograpical not administrative - London is huge and in one corner of the island.

El suggested that Greater London would make a sensible unit. I disagree: the London commuter belt is completely dominated by London, culturally, practically and economically. It doesn't make sense to split London from the region around it, and it certainly doesn't make sense to join the counties around it up in a way that excludes London. So my proposed London-containing-unit would basically be the London, South-East England and East of England Euro regions (or everywhere within an hour of London / everywhere south of a line from the Severn to the Wash and east of a line from the Severn to the Solent). Having 20 million people in the London unit is a problem for a federal system, but you need to design the federal system to fit the country, not vice versa.


This might well work. So might djr's solution #240.

Sorry, I'm proposing ideas and while from up here Greater London seems sensible (BoJo-land as it currently is seems like a working-ish division we've already got after all) I've never lived or worked down there and I don't really know how it works from the perspective of someone who has lived in the region.

I'm quite happy to see others. I think, on balance, I'm likely to prefer Bellingham's solution. I don't know what the numbers pan out to be, but it seems like it avoids the 20 million strong head to wag the tail. London and the surrounding areas into 5 regions... although I'm not sure how well it would in practise, London seems like too much of a coherent entity?


Sure, I agree it's a set of interlinked problems with many possible answers - that's the nature of the constitutional beast. But the challenge posed to the union by promising 'Devo-more' to Scotland during the referendum campaign means that the current status quo isn't viable - some kind of change is going to happen.

If no change occurs in the next 2-3 years then that means either that Westminster has kicked Devo-more into the long grass (and Scotland votes to leave the next time the independence question is put to them) or the West Lothian question was ignored once again (and an 'english insurgency' gets going that leads to UKIP breakthroughs and/or a right wing Tory revolt).



Many solutions, many proposals.

This leads to a practical issue, which is how do you structure the referendum that would be put to the people afterwards.

A binary yes/no question almost certainly gives you a hefty anti-change headwind (people whose preferred proposed was ignored), but a multi-choice is confusing and carries a strong possibility that the winning option ends up only achieving a plurality rather than a majority.

Perhaps some kind of staged progression of yes/no questions?

Should we do micro-change? Y/N

If we do micro-change should we do mini-change also? Y/N

If we do mini-change should we do medi-change also? Y/N

If we do medi-change should we do maxi-change also? Y/N

This would only work if none of the escalating options are mutually exclusive of course.



You could make a case for including Essex in a London region but not the rest of East Anglia, particularly Norfolk and Suffolk.


How big should a "devolved" assembly be? And I include a Westminster Parliament when only English MPs vote on an English matter.

A key problem with any parliament or government, it seems to me, is Dunbar's Number; an assembly with 650 members is clearly way over it, meaning no MP can reasonably be expected to know every other MP. I'd suggest no more than 200 members as a good first cut at a limit for the size of a legislature (the bloated House of Commons fails badly here), and the government itself (cabinet ministers and PPSs and equivalents) should be no more than 100 bodies -- as indeed is the case in the UK.

But a secondary problem is that Dunbar's Number also applies to the elector/representative relationship, in a big way. You really don't want the size of a constituency to grow so large that the representative doesn't have a hope in hell of getting to know the voters who are active participants/have local lobbying interests (not corporate/organization lobbyists, but concerned citizens trying to get their local representative to, like, represent them).

Hence my nation-state size limit: you can have an assembly with 200 members representing 5,000,000 voters with some hope that the MPs can know those of their 25,000 voters who want to get involved (typically less than 1%) and also know most of their professional peers.

The UK's House of Commons is an epic fail on this count -- constituencies of 50,000-100,000 citizens, and 650 MPs. The UK is just too damn big and cumbersome for direct representative government. A federal state with 5M/member state, 10 states, and a top-level federal assembly with maybe 100 senators (10 per state, elected by the state legislatures -- sitting as an electoral college, in effect -- to haggle over federal business) might well work a lot better.


Our glorious leaders think we're too stupid to be given complicated choices like that... although I think that's probably the best way to go.

And I'm not sure all of these choices we're discussing are viable. For example, for lack of "monster London" reasons I like #226, but I think if a Greater London and various surrounding counties option is not viable (as two different people suggest) #240 is probably a more viable option.

Equally, I just can't see them going for a full-scale dismantling of the HMRC and centralised taxation in the first step. It probably wouldn't be on the ballot paper as an offer (even though it makes sense). It's not on offer to Scotland yet, so far as I know, although William Hague has implied it's a 'somewhere down the line' part of Devo Max.

I'd personally favour a maximum choices arrangement, either like yours or a "should we go at all Yes/No?" and then an STV for "which of these do you want to see?" (even though we don't use STV for anything else) so we end up with a majority if there's a Yes to question 1.

BUT, I can see scenarios with a single question that's quite some way from my preferred choice that's not a complete abomination and that I could vote for. I can also see some complete abominations (John Redwood was talking about one on the news last night again and I have a nasty feeling the Tories will try to force feed us that one because they believe they'll win a few more elections on the basis of it.)


The "need" justification for higher per-capita spending in Scotland under the Barnett formula is geographical. Scotland is a lot bigger than most people realize; the infrastructure cost of linking outlying cities and towns with roads and railways is higher simply because the distances are greater. This has big knock-on effects all down the line: logistics are a permanent headache. And it gets much, much worse when you consider the Shetlands and Orkney Islands, and all the other outlying island communities that are further away from Edinburgh than Edinburgh is from London.


Certainly they can, and it would be as corrupt.

But imagine that a party was small enough to only field candidates in a single race. In my state, if I wanted to vote for one of those candidates I would not be permitted to vote in the primary in any other race, because I'm only allowed to vote for a single party.


This would only work if none of the escalating options are mutually exclusive of course.

I'm sorry to say this, but I fear you have an unrealistically high opinion of the reasoning ability of the British voting public.



I have been scarce over the weekend because (1) stinking head-cold and (2) travelling to visit relatives (it was my parents' diamond wedding anniversary yesterday).

I am now back home, along with what feels like my post-Eurocon chest infection getting set to make a second come-back tour, and I have a novel to finish.

So I am going to remain scarce for the next week due to (3) giving myself time to kick the infection in the metaphorical nuts, and (4) trying to finish "The Annihilation Score" before it's really overdue (rather than merely having blown my personal one-month-ahead-of-the-publisher's-deadline deadline).


Concerning both the likely federal units and the likely reform of the Barnett formula, may I propose there is both good news and bad news?

First of, the bad news: Making sensible choices is tricky, and some of those unit will feel screwed.

And now, the good one: Whichever units you implement, and whichever scheme you use, in the long run even a perfect system will become screwed up by economic and political change, so you don't need to worry. Err.

To go for the German system, we're using something called the "Länderfinanzausgleich" (financial equalization of "Länder") to split the tax money; you can find the numbers here:änderfinanzausgleich#Finanzvolumen

(Columns are the "Bundesländer", rows are the year; green numbers is money paid by this "Bundesland" into it, red is money gotten from it)

Some observations:
1) People enthusing over Berlin have a debatable perspective, in more then one area...

2) The former GDR "Länder" are all read. Funnily, thes are also some of the areas where the "Germany is paying too much into the EU"-AFD is strongest. Still better than the NPD in some Eastern "Länder", which lost slightly in the latest elections, but I digress[1].

3) Some "Länder" have a complex history; NRW started out as "giving", lately, it's changes between years; Bavaria started out as "taking", lately, it's usually "giving".

And now for the fun, Bavaria wants to stop the whole thing, the former GDR "Länder" want to keep the payments, not, not necessarily the EU, etc.

May you live in interesting times.

[1] Well, my personal idea was solving two problems at once by seceding certain Eastern German areas to Israel/Palestine, but let's REALLY not go there, 'mkay?


My suggestions for the London region weren't overlapping, and I agree that one of the key practical questions would be how far out it should go. Essex is a given (tube stations, M25, one of London's major airports) as is Hertfordshire. Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire are more questionable, Luton and Cambridge break to London, Bedford and Peterborough maybe not. Whatever exact boundaries you choose, Greater London is definitely too small an area - it doesn't include several of London's major airports, or a significant fraction of the workforce - and Greater London + home counties is around 15 million people. Southern England doesn't divide into regions of 5 million people, it divides into London and a whole bunch of places which relate to their close neighbours and to London.


Charlie has touched upon one of the reasons I am extremely wary of regionalisation- the differential costs of living in different parts of the country. Higher service costs in the countryside, although obviously in London you have higher housing costs. Merely splitting things into regions and letting them raise their own taxes and spending will mean expensive regions like a fiar bit of coutnryside, where you need a car to get around or extensive subsidy of bus services, will become more expensive to live in, whereas in a city you can get by with walking or buses or taxi's.

relatedly, the Royal mail, back when it was a public organisation, undertook to deliver mail to anywhere in BRitain for a flat fee. I think they're trying to get out of that, because of course it cost more to deliver it to Orkney.

But then obviously people in Orkney should pay more for everything, since it's their fault they live there? Only obviously it isn't that simple. I know an engineer who had to move there to get a job in his specialist area, for instance. And the good point about nationhood and society is the idea that we're all in it together, i.e. for the good of everyone in the country, we cross subsidise various areas at the expense of other ones, because of various geographical and economic issues.


Can I point out something(s).

The UK seems to be playing with the idea of going more federated and devolved, just as the EU is pushing in the opposite direction - trying to centralise power (control of the finances) in supposed trustworthy hands (ahem).

Now, either these two drives are at odds, or there are natural scales for different matters - with finance supposedly needing a large scale meddling hand. Seems to me that if you DON'T have control of your local finances, you're screwed (no flexibility to do what you need to do locally); and if you DO have control of your local finances you are ALSO screwed (since a local income tax funding the north results in a 30% funding shortfall).

I'd also point out that we have regressed, again, to talking about federation/devolution on a geographic basis - which is all too much 18th century. Rather than slicing and dicing on where someone might lay their hat, it's probably more fruitful to consider their natural 'grouping' - and the level of contribution/restitution of that grouping with the whole.


The "need" justification for higher per-capita spending in Scotland under the Barnett formula is geographical. Scotland is a lot bigger than most people realize; the infrastructure cost of linking outlying cities and towns with roads and railways is higher simply because the distances are greater.

I believe you. But I'm also from the western US and therefore familiar with the sight of mile after mile of diddly-squat. No doubt there are some people who just don't realize that not everywhere on Earth looks like London or Oxfordshire, but is there also a lot of willful ignorance?


Might look good from a distance, but, although people do commute to London From Clacton (& Colchester & Ipswich) it is almost exatly 70 miles to Harwich from Liverpool St - the same distance as Folkestone ....
So, a division needs to be made, since (especially) N Essex is a different world (with some amazing boozers I may add.
And places like the Dengie (Between Southminster & Bradwell) where you might not even be sure which planet you are on ....


The UK is just too damn big and cumbersome for direct representative government
And the USA?
Even allowing for "State" guvmints ... according to you it can't possibly work.
Oh, wait a minute ....

"Houston, we have a problem here"


... but is there also a lot of willful ignorance?
Oh my, yes, of course there is!
How do you think the SNP got away with their lies about London taking all their money for years?
Or the tories doing the same about the poor & unemployed?
Or labour screwing high-middle earners with 50% (+) tax-rates whilst doing nothing at all about the 0.1%
Or the "Greens" (effectively) promising to concrete over the big forest to the NE of London, by taking its guardian away?

All the major political parties are deliberately presenting highly skewed & untrue visions to the ( much too gullible ) electorate, and it has been getting much worse of late.

Which is why we really need political reform.
But - we've been around this block several times already, haven't we?

Charlie @ 250 (3) ...
Good luck with the viral bugs!


Essex is a given is it?

Over my dead body... At the moment my preferred option would be to take East Anglia (including my own corner of rural-ish Essex) out of the UK altogether and affiliate to the Netherlands. On the whole I feel more at home there than I do in London and with Harwich half-an-hour or so up the road...


On this, I get regular personally addressed newsletters from my Westminster MP and constituency MSP, but never hear from the relevant list MSPs (and indeed don't know their names).

I live in Eilann Sear and I've been doorstepped by the CMSP in person, all of which very much supports your argument.


"Everywhere within an hour of London"

So, at present, Swindon in the West, and post HS2, Birmingham!

Do you see the flaw in that argument, given that we're trying to produce workably small units?


How do you think the SNP got away with their lies about London taking all their money for years?

Do you mean lies like the Treasury figures showing that the 1.5 miles of the "Limehouse Link" cost more than Scotland's entire transport budget?


I see the flaw as being in the idea of producing "workably small units", as it doesn't take into account the fact that London and its hinterland is 15-20 million people.

(Swindon borderline, Birmingham is out of London's commuter belt so no, Essex yes, certainly the majority of the population is London-centric.)


Can someone explain to me why you can't work in a different region to the one in which you live? WHY does the Greater London region have to include every town where people commute into London to work?

The only reasons that I can see would be tax implications - and if we can't handle the tax implications of people working in one region and living in another, we might as well give up on the whole business now - or this nebulous "identification" thing.

If that even exists at all, which I see as dubious, I don't see people living outside London and commuting in necessarily identifying as Londoners. To take a sample size of 1, I'm currently in the process of moving out of Greater London, because I don't want to raise my son there. I'll still be commuting in, because I don't fancy taking a 50% pay cut, but I would be entirely happy, nay exultant, to be a resident of a completely different region.


No doubt there are some people who just don't realize that not everywhere on Earth looks like London or Oxfordshire, but is there also a lot of willful ignorance?

A quarter of the UK population lives in the Greater London area -- population density twice as high as New York city. Two-thirds of the UK population live in cities (60,000 or more people; most of them 250,000 or more) at population densities that the US would classify as "urban"; most of the rest live in what in the US would be called "suburbia" but we call "open countryside". The population density of England is similar to Greater Los Angeles. Whereas the Scottish Highlands -- more than a quarter of the UK's surface area -- is home to less than 2 million people (as opposed to the 51 million in England).


The obvious thing to do is to split London up into smaller pieces. How about North Central London, South Central London (the native tribes speak different tongues after all), the Outer Darkness bounded by the M25 and at its core the Vatican of England, The City. Much more manageable that way, a Sykes-Picot solution for the 21st century.

You can expect the first border clashes to break out thirty minutes after this solution is imposed, Chelsea Tractors with heavy machineguns substituting for Toyota pickups and RPG-7-toting fixie bike couriers wreaking revenge on the heretical Blacktaxi infidels.

"Boris Bike Akbar!"


"Whereas the Scottish Highlands -- more than a quarter of the UK's surface area -- is home to less than 2 million people"

The Islands (part of the Highlands and Islands region) get an even shittier stick to grasp the end of. The Highlands have roads at least (in part to make sure the Royal Artillery can put down any new uprising that might develop in the baby-eating sheepshagger demographic north of Watford^WStirling). The islands have very limited air connections to the rest of the planet and otherwise mostly depend on the Curse of the Isles, Caledonian McBrayne ferries to remain part of the UK, trade, commute to work and school, visit, transport ballot boxes etc.


Can someone explain to me why you can't work in a different region to the one in which you live?

It certainly wouldn't be the first case where workers in a city actually live in neighbouring administrations. The example I'm best acquainted with is Basel, whose tram system now1 runs into two other countries for the sake of its international commuters.

On the other hand, too bad an imbalance leads to the Detroit problem where AIUI the suburbs relied on the city, but supplied no tax receipts to it.

1Well, very shortly anyway. I think the testing of the section into Germany starts next week


I applied other peoples' "1 hour" limit. Swindon is 1 hr from Paddington by HST.

Birmingham is outside that time radius at present but I did attach a rider that this required HS2 to be built.


I think we end up circling back to regional groups because of a number of assumptions.

One is a concentration into fewer hierarchies. It's hard to imagine the governance of health care provision, education provision (unless you believe is can be done remotely - the Australian model notwithstanding) and a string of other things not being done most efficiently on some geographical basis, at least until you get out to the really uncommon medical conditions. So if we're fixed to having some governance that's fixed geographically, why not have it all and limit the number of parasitespoliticians we employ?

Another is clarity of lines of complaint. I've had occasion, many years, heck several decades ago, to complain to my MP. I knew who he was, if I didn't I knew how to find out (it was long enough ago it wasn't a case of hitting up Google). If I have multiple representatives for multiple SIGs (whatever they're called) then I have to choose the right one, find their details and get in touch. That's not beyond the realms of possibility for me and you but would tax my mum for example. (In other words I'd end up doing it for her.) Plus, if we have say 25 SIG-reps rather than 1 MP, does that a) dilute their authority too much and b) cause too many headaches where it's not completely clear which SIG-rep I should approach? If my hypothetical child is discriminated against by the education system because they are in a wheelchair is it my health SIG-rep or my education SIG-rep or both? If there's a regional MP, it's one person. Under Charlie's proposal there are about 2,000 of them rather than 650 Westminster MPs but it's still a 1:1 relationship for me, and in my example the regional health and educational services both answer to the regional MPs perfectly clearly.

Despite my objections, I do think there's merit in the idea. I think the problem is we're not really ready to go there. We're really talking about kicking a system that's structured around the end of the feudal structure and the start of the middle ages into something a few centuries more modern as a step that might be acceptable today. Or within the life of the next parliament.

If we can accept that works, given 20-50 years, we might find we can drag it forward another few centuries. And who knows, perhaps by then we'll actually have changed our culture sufficiently that flat organisations and fluid hierarchies and the like - organisational structures that I think will be required to be the cultural norm to make this form of government really work - will be established.


Or we could dust off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. ;-)


God made the Earth,
And owns all that it contains,
Except the islands of Scotland,
And they are MacBrayne's.


If the "one hour commute" refers to the time between leaving your place of residence and entering your place of work then for most folks Swindon-London is not within that limit. Assume 15 minutes to get to the station and fifteen more minutes to get from Paddington to your office in central London and you're looking at more like 90 minutes, or three hours of unpaid travelling added on to an 8-hour working day. That is, of course, if you live and work only fifteen minutes from the stations in question. Even with HS2 bringing Birmingham within "commuting" distance of London it will still be a long journey for many people.


We need teleport gates, dammit.

(But we won't get them: the TSA or the real estate agents will assassinate the inventors before they can bring them to market.)


Having just had to deal with Estate Agents (who did an OK job but spammed me with 3rd party property newsletters) I have mixed feelings about them. Between press releases from the property collective and the basic ignorance of journalists, we're being badly misled about property values.

1: "average" prices are rising.

2: in some places property values are insane (GBP 5 million asked for tiny apartments in London).

3: this can be raising the mean without changing median prices, and how many of us have houses worth more than the median, but by heck the average is rising!


That would be the TSA and estate agents against an unholy alliance of drug traffickers, package holiday organisers and event organisers. I've no idea who would win but it would be entertaining.


TSA and estate agents against an unholy alliance of drug traffickers, package holiday organisers and event organisers

Battle Royale?

That's some reality TV I could watch.

I'd put my money on an alliance of estate agents and package holiday organisers against the rest (the drug traffickers have some moral scruples left after all).

The finale would have the estate agents turning on the the package holiday organisers (and themselves), but with the superior animal management skills of the package holiday organisers winning out.

Quick, to Endemol...


Despite my objections, I do think there's merit in the idea. I think the problem is we're not really ready to go there. We're really talking about kicking a system that's structured around the end of the feudal structure and the start of the middle ages into something a few centuries more modern as a step that might be acceptable today. Or within the life of the next parliament.

Problem is, if you are in a dysfunctional local minima, you need to kick the system sufficiently far to dislodge it from circling back into the drain.

Geographical separations are an accident of history that treat everyone the same based on communities limited by transport and communication. Medieval guilds are probably a better template match for some of the characteristics we need for governance of day to day life. Sure, defence might well be best organised on a large scale (probably continent type if you were regional, possibly global if you look to a guild structure) but governance of behaviour, taxation, etc. matches the type of person much better.

In essence you want the unit to be the minimum size that gives the capability and economies of scale that you need AND a commonality of viewpoint that allows for agreed actions and laws to be taken.

That need not be particularly complex to structure - and is enough out of the discredited current political structures to avoid falling down the same drain.


So we revive the medieval guilds....

But we already have a Worshipful Company of Fearmongers, and we call it the Conservative Party.


Can someone explain to me why you can't work in a different region to the one in which you live?

I live near the border of Oregon and Washington states. There are some people who cross the border for the best combination of work, residence, and shopping - there are tax advantages to be gained by gaming the system, which is why some tricks are frowned upon by the state governments.

Something similar happens at the California/Nevada border, where Californians come for gambling. There's one highway stop so built that the store is in Nevada but the parking lot is in California. I've heard of another where the border runs through the store and certain merchandise must be stocked on the correct side of the room.

No doubt similar things happen along most open borders.


Ahhh, but (putting my empathic skills to use) they would suggest instead that they were the Worshipful Company of Realists and Pragmatic Achievers, and that the Party opposite were in fact the Street Theatre and Clown Show of Unachievable Promises.

Seriously, though, it's the "a cynic is what an idealist calls a realist" moment. If you try and reason pragmatically with an idealist, you risk being dismissed as "negative" or "scaremonger". The trick is being willing to try it and see; my second-biggest problem with the SNP offer, was the credibility gap in how they claimed it would all work (my biggest one being a distrust of Nationalism, or at least any politician who chooses that route to power).

It's occasionally frustrating at work - twenty-five years at the codeface give you an understanding that a particular project is going to turn into an unmaintainable mess, and that in two years time you're going to be spending most of your time patch-fixing spaghetti logic.

Managers can be as optimistic and idealistic as they like, but once you see hand-waving around the architecture and design ("we don't need to worry about that yet!" / "we'll sort that out when we get there!" / "other engineering teams have solved this, and we're just as smart as they are!" / "the code IS the documentation!") you know you're still going to end up digging through pasta.


I see your point. Having said that, I've actually had to travel from Swindon to Paddington on a train departing ~08:00. It was already "decidedly busy" and got busier at Reading and Slough, so I took the 1hr as "on train" rather than "door to door" based on limited practical experience.


There are cases in Europe (sorry no cites) where national frontiers run down the middle of a road through a town, and even through houses. It may be an urban legend, but I've been told of one case where someone's front door is in one nation, and their back door in another (which pre-Euro used 2 different currencies).


No doubt similar things happen along most open borders

A senior member of the Provisional IRA, with a penchant for a particular item of concrete building materials, had a barn built on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. With an entrance at each end.

There is obviously no truth to any suggestion that fuel was being smuggled (due to the difference in tax regimes) although he has been named in the Sunday Times "underworld rich list" and had a seven-figure sum confiscated as criminal assets by the courts on both sides of the border...


There are cases in Europe (sorry no cites) where national frontiers run down the middle of a road through a town

Here you are — my favourite example of where an international border becomes almost fractal.


Baarle is magnificent; it's like looking at Mandelbrot's back yard. *grin*


Why, apart from in the City of London where it's largely ceremonial, did the guild system die out? There are obviously vestiges in the unions, although only vestiges.

OTOH it is totally disruptive of the current system. It would be interesting to work towards it but from a pragmatic point of view, in this thread, I can't see any of the political parties suggesting it. I can see them - there were hints from various politicians around the Labour party conference for example - moving to regional assemblies. It's not a suggestion for "the morning after the No vote" however interesting and potentially better than any of the others, it's a suggestion for starting a revolution, or after the next No vote. Or after all the politicians let us down again and we just kick the lot out.


If you read wikipedia, it suggests that it's demise was basically down to the rise of capitalists and economic theorising...

Mind I'm presenting it as evidence that the idea isn't a totally strange one; rather than a model to follow.

And you are right, none of the current turkeys would ever vote for that particular christmas. That's why the whole sorry, corrupt lot of them really need to get voted out - they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Not only have they been thoroughly taken over by money (such that they don't actually represent anyone but the money), they are also incapable of the size and pace of change necessary to match the needs of the world in which we live.

Implicitly I think everyone understand that by now, even down your to average tea party loon - so it's just a question of when that gets acted upon.


Why, apart from in the City of London where it's largely ceremonial, did the guild system die out?


Apart from the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the Law Society, the Institute of Chartered Accountants...

...each of which have gates to entry, and a monopoly on that particular professional activity. Backed by law.


Thanks - Geography as comedy!


"Let's see ...
Adolf had sneaked Sudetenland away,
invaded Czechoslovakia, supervised Kristallnacht, occupied Austria & then invaded Poland.
And we were NOT the virtuous side?
By what criterion?"

Reading comprehension, Greg (or perhaps I should write better). I had suspected that the other guy, whom I Will Not Name, was either a pro-partyoftheguywiththefunnymustache, or anti-anti-partyoftheguywiththefunnymustache. By that comment, my doubt was gone.


"London is already a devolved region, albeit with very few powers."

That's odd; my impression was that they were the dominant 'region' in UK politics. For example, they seemed to have had a very successful looting spree with a sweet bailout.


The Swiss-French border near CERN (on the outskirts of Geneva), though continuous, is very ill-defined (I used to cycle from Meyrin to CERN along a bike path that basically ran along the border - which was marked by the odd stone with a line carved in it and a brass plate). It looks to me as though it followed field boundaries (I imagine a chap with a beret saying to the surveyors "Ce champ ici, c'est mon champ, c'est un champ francais!"). CERN is officially in Switzerland, but a lot of people live over the border in St Genis (France), on account of cheaper cost of living. The customs post at the CERN entry is a lot more interested in the contents of your carrier bags than it is in seeing your passport (which I was asked for exactly once, in a year of regular commuting, after I failed to laugh at a French douanier's joke owing to not having understood it!).


This just led to me imagining the guy on the other side of the cycle path saying "Ce champ ici, c'est mon champ, c'est un champ Suisse!"


Ah, Meyrin. I remember sitting on the terrace of a works canteen there, drinking beer with my lunch and looking out over the fields at where the CERN ring is.

(I was writing software at Firmenich at the time, boggling occasionally at the 50 gallon drums marked 'Estee Lauder' and the like. It took weeks for my sense of smell to rebalance.)


And the good point about nationhood and society is the idea that we're all in it together, i.e. for the good of everyone in the country, we cross subsidise various areas at the expense of other ones, because of various geographical and economic issues.

And the bad point about nationhood is the idea that everyone else is not in it together with us. Oxford has a lot of immigrants, very noticeable in some parts of the city. Oxonians worried by this fact (and there seem to be quite a few worried by this fact) sometimes say to me that we should help a poor person who is British rather than a poor person in or recently immigrated here from Uganda, Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. I ask why. What logical justification is there for preferring to help the British person?


You're thinking of the special interest group often called "the City" which only has a very limited overlap with the population of Greater London. The finance sector flexes its muscles at national or international level, BoJo didn't have the power to bail them out.


I'd like to see a variation of the Dutch polder system applied to more economic and social infrastructures. This would mean recognizing and rewarding interpersonal social responsibility. Most of us come pre-wired with the ability to recognize and respond to others' needs.

The last time I studied history in a structured way was in high school, i.e., a list of wars and economic treaties. This narrow perspective teaches that ordinary life is unimportant, and that we must unlearn or repress this part (empathy/ concern) of ourselves in order to 'succeed' in winner-takes-all systems.

There are probably many examples of similar systems worldwide, but they don't get any airtime, because they're not about wars and economic treaties, therefore 'unimportant'. The thing is, it's probably this low/micro-level, highly pervasive capacity to participate and help that's fundamentally important, and the rest is just dressing.


> There are some people who cross the border for the best combination of work, residence, and shopping... No doubt similar things happen along most open borders.

Oh, indeed. Such arrangements were utterly standard along the MX/US border until 911 and nobody cared or much noticed. Crossing the border in either direction was no big deal.

After that, with the urgent necessity of security theater on the US side, it became somewhat more difficult for the lower end of the economic scale. There's still a lot of it -- although, no surprise, having money helps facilitate border crossings.


The book "Bandit Country", a history of the South Armagh region, has a fabulous photo of the "Slab" Murphy family standing across the border in the middle of one of their fields.

The same book suggests that the constant flow of petrol tankers to and from the farm, on both sides of the border, was a wonder to behold.


An article I read today in The Economist advocated a double majority for English votes in Parliament. A bill affecting only England would have to have a majority of all MPs and also a Majority of English MPs to pass into law. At first sight it seems not too unreasonable as a stopgap until English devolution could be worked out properly.


First of all, not being British, I have to admit that I had to google for "West Lothian Question", but fortunately it was easy to find on Wikipedia.

Second I have to ask what this hypothetical "bill affecting only England" could possibly be? Just to state the obvious: it mustn't have any fiscal component, i.e. it mustn't cost the UK tax payer a single penny. Because anything that costs them is affecting them by definition, it's as simple as that. How many bills would that leave? Or is it customary for the UK parliament to levy certain taxes only in England? This would be necessary for any bill "only affecting England".

(Strictly speaking this means that even discussing any bill in parliament affects every UK citizen, because they all are paying for the parliamentary infrastructure.)


The best discussion I can find on the Barnett formula is here

As I read it, it says the problem is that the Barnett formula is NOT needs based but population based.

Plainly it was a temporary fudge that has outlived its applicability but not its usefulness : it has managed so far to avoid a lot of resource allocation infighting.

Replacing it with an explainable needs-based system (which would include geographic considerations) would (in an ideal world) result in the "why should they get more than me" rhetoric being reduced to a more manageable level.


Devolution in the UK seems to have resulted in an awkward hybrid between a unified national legislature and a federalized system. It seems logical to this American that moving toward a fully federal legal and legislative structure would be less confusing. Then you wouldn't have persons who were both MSP and MP. That level of devolution would significantly affect the financial structure of the UK, though, if tax and budget authorities were assigned to the devolved areas to the same extent that they are with US states and Canadian provinces.


I'd like to see a variation of the Dutch polder system applied to more economic and social infrastructures. This would mean recognizing and rewarding interpersonal social responsibility. Most of us come pre-wired with the ability to recognize and respond to others' needs.

The only sense of "polder" that I know is the one to do with land reclamation. But there is a word that sounds a little bit similar, namely "pillarisation" ("verzuiling" in Dutch). To quote from the above Wikipedia link:

Pillarisation (verzuiling in Dutch) is the politico-denominational segregation of a society. These societies were (and in some areas, still are) "vertically" divided into several segments or "pillars" (zuilen, singular: zuil) according to different religions or ideologies. The best-known examples of this are the Dutch and Belgian ones.

These pillars all had their own social institutions: their own newspapers, broadcasting organisations, political parties, trade unions and farmers' associations, banks, schools, hospitals, universities, scouting organisations and sports clubs. Some companies even hired only personnel of a specific religion or ideology. This led to a situation where many people had no personal contact with people from another pillar.

If you can read Dutch, searching for "verzuiling" will find numerous more detailed descriptions of the policy and its effects. Would this be related to your polders?


The Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and Scottish Parliament have powers over their health services and education services. The Scottish Parliament has more extensive powers over them (and the Scottish educational system has always been distinct from the rest of the UK's with Nationals and Highers rather than our current GCSEs and AS/A2 structures (they're not quite equivalent but broadly).

They're obviously both big money items where the Westminster MPs don't (normally) have a say over the items in other countries of the union but MPs from those countries do in England. (Originally this was only for Scotland, hence the Lothian part of the West Lothian question.)

I think there are other common powers to both assemblies and the Scottish Parliament but none of them are hugely big money areas. In addition, and strictly West Lothian, the Scottish Parliament has some additional powers that the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies don't. (It gets very boring wading through the lists of powers and so on.)

However, as you've phrased the question, since the money currently goes into a central pot and is distributed, the WL question actually only sort of applies, partially, to Scotland. The Scottish Parliament has the power (but has never exercised it yet) to vary tax rates in Scotland and raise additional funds (or less funds of course).

However, there is, inevitably, a political trap here. English MPs tend Tory in most elections. Wales and Scotland tend Labour with Scotland also returning SNP and Wales PC and the two countries very few Conservative MPs. (Wales currently has 26 Labour, 8 Conservative, 3 each Lib Dem and PC. Scotland has 40 Labour, 11 Lib Dem, 6 SNP, 1 each for Conservative and Independent.) Take those votes for Labour away and there wouldn't be a hung parliament for English matters. (There still would be for matters affecting the whole of the UK of course.)

Generally (although various people on all sides are too thick to look at the numbers and see it) when Labour win, they win convincingly enough including in England that it doesn't matter. In 2005 for example, they won 286 seats of the 528 in England - a clear majority (and of course held majorities in Scotland and Wales as well. Northern Ireland has its own parties.).

Of course, if the bill was passed to allow English MPs to vote on purely English matters, one issue that could easily be deemed to be a purely English issue would be redrawing constituency boundaries. An attempt to do this and, depending on your politics "rebalance for population shifts" or "redraw to rig for more Tory MPs" fell through because of a lovers' tiff between Callmedave and Nick about something in the early days. (Lord's reform I think but I can't remember for sure.) That could suddenly give the Tories a lasting natural majority.


It occurs to me that we don't have standard deviations, error bars etc. on Dunbar's Number or the Bernard-Killworth Number (which is a different approach to the same thing from the Wikipedia you linked to (but with better experimental technique. But it's a biological function, there's going to be variation. Bernard and Killworth even demonstrated it, because their median number of connections is so much lower than their median due to a skew in the date with a long right tail.

I don't know what the process of becoming a successful MP is like in detail - I don't know anyone that's done it and I've no desire to do it. But I know there's all the fun of selection committees, glad-handing, meeting people, impressing them and so on.

To an anti-social cow like me, it sounds like hell. There are many reasons why I have no desire to do be an MP, but that's certainly one of them. But, it strikes me that, purely by accident this process is likely to select for people out in that right hand tail of the bell curve. If we use the BK numbers (mean 290, median 231) do I believe there's about 2,000 people (current MPs + former and future ones, many last about 30 years in parliament, so it's a decent estimate) that could have working social networks of 600+ in a population of 60 million? It's probably a stretch, but it's not outrageously unlikely. That looks like there's a really long tail out to the right (hard to be sure without the original data though).

But your assumption that an assembly with 650 members is clearly way over it, meaning no MP can reasonably be expected to know every other MP might not be well founded. It's clearly way over the average, yes. But if you listen to MPs talk, they seem, within a short period of time, to get to know the bulk of the rest of them, if not all of the rest of them pretty quickly.


I think this is only "sort of" true. Wales has no tax-varying power, so can only set spending priorities, and take policy decisions, such as abolishing prescription tax. Whilst Scotland does have a tax-varying power, it has never been used.


I think you mean the GMC, not the BMA (which is a trade union).

I guess I don't see them as medieval guilds, not even really all that closely derived from them, because they're largely about regulating public-serivce professions. Bars to entrance and maintaining membership are low: are you suitably trained? You're in. Do you have a track record of gross negligence or rank incompetence? No? You're still in. For some it's a bit harder than that - they also insist you do some training to keep your skills up every year as well but frankly I'd rather think my doctor spends a few days a year keeping up with their reading and so on than not.

I can see there are similarities to a medieval guild. But the final kicker - the oldest of them I can find dates back to the middle of the 19th Century. It's hard to say you're the inheritor of a medieval tradition when your history is Victorian.


Yup. Thought I'd said that, sorry if it slipped though the net or wasn't clear.


Equally, I was skimming, and on reading properly, I think the difference is that I hit the point with an even bigger hammer! ;-)


I first came across these numbers in relation to anthropology. There were three group sizes, "extended family", "clan", and "dialectal tribe". The Clan is about at Dunbar's Number, and iz the size of group that can stay together year-round. The Extended Family roughly matches animal groups, no speech, such as a wolf pack or a troop of baboons, and might depend on some of the same mechanisms. The Dialectal Tribe speaks the same language, and meets up every year for a week or two, but is a heavy load on the immediate area's resources.

Or maybe an Extended Family is an infantry platoon, the Clan matches the company. and the Dialectal Tribe the Regiment.

You can probably do the same mapping on Parliament, with the whole parliament being the Dialectal Tribe, and parties being the Clans.

Anyway, there are arguments from Dunbar's Number that Parliament is too big, but I'm reluctant to say we should depend on any single-level system, when we see working multi-level systems in other sorts of human organisation.


Good question, and Scotland, because it does have a different legal system, is a very strong candidate being apart from England. A bill on UK-wide matters has to explicitly deal with both English and Scots law in defining possible offences and prosecution processes.

But here's a quote from the DEFRA web page.

Although Defra only works directly in England, it works closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and generally leads on negotiations in the EU and internationally.

Some stuff has to be UK-wide, but I bet some politicians wouid like to push through an England-only bill on some aspects of what Defra does.

English MPs voting on English laws looks like a giant economy catering size can of worms.


We still have guilds in the UK - they are called the liveried companies of the City of London.

There might not be much call for cordwainers or armourers in the square mile these days, but the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists has an active membership.



I'm certainly not saying we should keep the current system, I just wonder how big a variation there is Dunbar's Number (and other variations on measuring it) and if arguments based on it are actually as valid as we think.

They might be, but I guess part of me just remembers too many MPs talking about getting to know all the other MPs when they're interviewed, suggesting they do form an efficient social network at that size. It doesn't impossible good (as in the sense of long-serving and effective rather than moral or other senses of the word) MPs are up on the right-hand of the bell curve and can form much large social networks than the average. If it's a somewhat spread-out and/or skewed curve too then it's not that improbable.


The Victorians went a little wild on medieval stuff, so I wouldn't rule out a connection with the medieval guilds, or at least some sort of image of them. Thinking of Barristers, there is a continuity but the law and the courts were changing so much that the Victorian Inns of Court must have changed hugely from how they were a century before.

Think what the railways, the Penny Post and then the telephone meant for the working patterns of trial lawyers. From travelling with the Assize judge, and even a prosperous defendant having very little choice, a man of means could call on the best London barristers.

People such as William Garrow led some enormous changes, a couple of hundred years ago. And. for some purposes, railways were just another sort of canal.

Anyway, the Victorians must have had some idea of what the medieval guilds were, and where there wasn't the direct continuity, which lawyers had, there was an influence on some aspects of these new organisations. If they were not to be a trade union the echoing of the guild image was useful. And, even if the medieval guilds were often a little low-class. what came through to the Victorians was not.

Some of the Highest in the land were Masons, but the lower classes had their own groups, such as the Oddfellows. There was a pervasive set of class divisions which only started to crack after the First World War, when the Labour Party grew to the point of forming a Government.

I wonder what Georgius Quintus Rex would have made of the current lot.


The maximum effective size of a legislature seems to be 600-700, The house of Commons has usually been around 650 since 1801 and has tended to be about the largest actual effective legislature (excluding the sham legislatures like China) but several other countries have ones not much smaller. Italy's 630, Germany's is 631. The largest real legislature seems to be the European Parliament at 751.

The House of Commons of then United Kingdom was 658 members from 1801 following the union with Ireland adding a hundred members to the 558 members of the House of Commons of Great Britain.

Changes to size

Year Size of commons
1801 658
1847 656
1852 654
1865 658
1874 652
1885 670
1918 707 (73 Sinn Fein MPs boycotting)
1922 615 (Irish independence)
1945 640
1950 625
1955 630
1974(f) 635
1983 650
1992 651
1997 659
2005 646 (Scottish devolution)
2010 650


We'e tried "verzuiling" - in N Ireland.
YOU HAD to be a prod (or occasionally a catholic) to get certain jobs. ( A smaller-scale version operated in Glasgow, for a time, too. )
No, le's not repeat that one, shall we?


The Livery Companies of The City do a huge amount of charitable & information work, even if their original purpose has passed.
Some have re-invented themseleves in modern terms too, dealing with trade matters.
Such as the "Drapers" f'rinstance.


I wonder how many No votes and non-voters would change their decision after Parliament voted to join the fun against ISIS.


Interesting question.

If I had to guess, I'd guess some of them but probably not enough to change the result. The tories are generally pretty gung-ho about it all, so they wouldn't change.

Voters on the left that I've spoken to (which mostly makes them English and not Scottish admittedly) are more divided, and not just the MPs in Westminster. They obviously didn't have votes in the referendum but my quick straw poll suggests all of those that are opposed to the war would have no if they'd had vote anyway.

I wouldn't presume to speak for the people on this list on either side of the debate - but we know Charlie voted yes, and we know he's opposed to violence. So that would support that correlation.


True...but, more than just that.

I keep having to remind myself that I AM 65, since I AM ever so youthful and dynamic, but, once upon a time, when I was a boy The City and Guilds Exams qualified you for all sorts of professions in the U.K. and some of those exams were, in my opinion, easily the equivalent of modern Degree Level Qualifications ..Actually, come to think of it, some of 'em were well above the Degree Level Qualifications of these days in the U.K. At least this is true in some subjects.

Beyond that there are qualifications whose professional Guilds make damn near impossible to obtain without huge intellectual effort since this keeps the numbers of the QUALIFIED down and thus enhances their remuneration packages. Most notable of these is the Qualification for Chartered Accountants...

Oh and if you are looking around for a profession that won’t become eliminated by technology any day soon - as is inevitable with, say, some low grade legal qualifications - then look towards medical subjects in, say, ..

Well, look here for a qualification body that will kill and eat any Teaching institution - University or Equivalent- that dares to try to degrade the qualification.... and who would do this? Anyone who asks that question has never worked in Higher Education in the U.K.

I once worked in an institution whose bureaucracy noted the popularity of Pharmaceutical Stuff among highly desirable and filthy rich, foreign students and proceeded to try to reduce qualification levels for admission/staff student contact hours /books/ qualified teaching staff especially those doing research...very expensive this... and so forth.

This worked until the first time the Professional Body visited to examine the Courses at which time the bureaucracy collectively wet themselves in fear when they were told that they WOULD rectify all those cost savings or the Qualifications would not be validated and their students couldn’t practice. Oh, the running around in circles hiring people and buying stuff. It cost at least a couple of million £ in modern equivalence. Not a pretty sight. Not just in medical stuff either but the bloke who did the planning for my houses extension a few years ago turned out to be an ex Senior academic Civil Engineer whose bureaucracy Big Wigs had one day called him in to graciously explain that they had thought of a way to get around the failure rate among highly desirable and rich students.

All that he had to do was eliminate those pesky mathematics based modules from the Civil Engineering Degree and LO! Joy would be unconfined as student intakes boomed. It was explained to them that this just couldn’t be would they like to be on the receiving end of – insert civil engineering thing of choice – designed and examined by someone who couldn’t do the math? They just didn’t see it was such a cunning scheme! He was just being Difficult and so on and so forth. This went on forever and eventually my extension planner took early retirement and left the struggle to his junior colleagues whilst he practiced his hobby of planning house extensions, and very well he did it too.

Only the Guild Equivalent...

Stands between you and those bureaucratic prats. Remember this when next you cross over a bridge.


Charted Accountants/
Try Chartered Tax Adviser - that one's really tough.
I have close personal contact (shall we say) with one who has gone that route ... proably less than 10 000 qualified in the whole country & not all practising.


I'll conceed that. I had missed the taxation experts in the hireachy ..

" .. proably less than 10 000 qualified in the whole country "

But, I wonder how many of the !0,000...

Are at work in Public Service, even in the ever so socialist U.K. - Damn Commies !! - and given as compared to the US of A that is.

So, how many Chartered Tax Advisers will be nobly, and Self Sacrificially, abandoning personal profit in favour of using their expertise to prise funds from the Mega Rich that said funds might be fed into public services in the U.K.?

Thats the problem really. The Very Rich Indeed have more than enough Money to hire really serious expertise to avoid/ er, Evade? Taxation. And the Public Service? Rather less so I fear; this especialy when the political class will be saving any penny/ cent in tax havens/trust funds so that their childrens future might be secure and prosperous.

Not just here in the U.K. of course ..


Oh, it's fun to charter an accountant
and sail upon the wide accountant-sea!
To find, explore, the funds off-shore
and skirt the shoals of bankruptcy!
It can be manly in insurance,
we'll up your premiums semi-annually!
It's all tax-deductible, we're fairly incorruptible
sailing on the wide accountant-sea!



I knew that I'd forgotten to respond to a post, but, well I have been suffering from a particularly bad case of Pneumonic Plague this made much worse by lack of female sympathy by one who declares that I only have a "cold". Strange how women seem to imune to Pneumonic Plague isn't it?

Lots of documentary stuff on social cleansing in London of late but of course the present property problems in London can be drawn back in recent time to the Thatcher Regime.

" Council leader Colin Barrow apologised unreservedly to all those affected by the "gerrymandering" policy - and criticised her by name for the first time.

The illegal policy, which wasted £37million of public money, included moving Labour-voting council tenants into asbestos-ridden towers so their flats could be sold to potential Tory voters.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Barrow told the Standard he wanted to "bury the ghost of Porter once and for all". "

He'll be lucky!

And also...

I just don't know what can be done about the current property bubble in the south east of the U.K.

In the unlikely event that an incoming Labour Government built a huge amount of social housing for reasonable rent to the poor in the south east of England the next Tory Government would just sell it off to prospective Tory voters to the acclamation of all prospective home owners who meet the Demographic of "People like Us”


Well, the CTA I know tells me that a large amount of time is taken up with ...
1] Complying with US regulations, even though the companies & people they are working "for" are not US citizens or have any business in the USA
2] Trying to make sure that the money-laundering regs are complied with
3] Trying to give a "fair & accurate report" on (whatever) & make sure no-one breaks any laws.
Given the scandals that DO appear, it would seem that some "companies" ( & partnerships) are a lot less strict &/or that they have much more important "friends" (Until it really goes pear-shaped, of course)
Another case, I think of two sets of rules:
The written-down ones
The ones others think they are playing by.
My, erm, acquaintance, is in the first class of the last two, obviously.
She is NOT a happy bunny, a lot of the time.
Work the rest out for yourself!


FWIW I also voted yes.

I'm not "opposed to violence" in all cases. This does not mean that I believe that the Yousay is "the World's policeman", or that the UK should act as the Yousay's deputy. This was on my lis of reasons for voting yes.


In case anyone is still interested in the split of the youth vote, Lord Ashcroft did a poll where they looked at the split of voters by age. In his poll (of 2,000 voters) the 16 and 17 year olds split like 70% yes, 30% no. However, although he polled 2,000 total voters, (and his overall balance was about 55-45 no) there were only 14 under-18's in his sample, so the margin of error is pretty damn huge. Despite that, it's been taken as gospel and oft-quoted since that time. Source: More or Less BBC Radio 4, 26/9/14 broadcast. It's available on podcast and iPlayer, somewhere nearly the middle of the show. (There's also an item about the Barnett formula if anyone's interested in that.)


As a fine example of politicians in the UK certainly skirting the truth, or pushing my bullshit meter beyond the point of reasonable doubt, our glorious chancellor was interviewed this morning on Today (a heavyweight political radio programme).

He said he did not believe the "wicked rumours" that most people's personal finances were not improving in line with the improving economy. That could be the truth of course, he might not believe it.

However, a few hours later at the Conservative Party Conference, he stood up and said that it was shocking and unsustainable that working age benefit payments have increased faster than wages for the last five years. (This is a politically very loaded statement - working age benefits are (falsely) believed to be paid to "idle layabouts" and "benefit scroungers" and "immigrants on benefit holidays" when actually most of them are paid automatically to families or paid to workers in low paid jobs, and to UK citizens.) They are also linked directly and automatically to inflation - so they've increased at the rate of inflation, wages haven't kept up. In other words within a few hours he's presented evidence that suggests that most people's personal finances are not keeping up with the economic growth.

Of course in one he's making a statement to the nation and he can't be seen to say "I've screwed you over." In the second he's speaking mostly to the party faithful and he's largely going to say "screw the poor, screw the benefit scroungers, etc." He's also going to hope we're going to either not connect the dots or forget. (And yes, everyone else does it too, he's just done it today.)


Well yes, but the whole point of the Conservative Party is you've got to watch what they're doing, not what they say. They're sort of like the Republican Party in the USA -- all the god-bothering and flag-waving is basically to rally the voters: what really happens when they get into office is all about the money.

With the Tories, again: the rhetoric is about immigration, lawn order -- sorry, law and order -- clamping down on benefits cheats, some judicious scapegoating, and the buzz word efficiency (which can be used to justify any private sector outsourcing atrocity you can imagine). What the agenda is in practice is a huge give-away in which public assets are sold off for below their book value to cronies, who then rent them back to the public sector in return for tax-based subsidies, the money for which is clawed out of the revenue base that would otherwise have been spent on stuff like, oh, healthcare and housing and keeping the unlucky and chronically disabled from starving.

Osborne is probably the most successful chancellor we've had for decades if you evaluate him in terms of achieving his goals -- but the goals in question are not ones that anyone who isn't a multi-millionaire would necessarily approve of.

Lying is just part of the necessary doublethink he has to practice in order to do his job.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 19, 2014 12:10 AM.

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