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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Basqueing in reflected glory

Sorry for the pun, but one should never be too serious about something that is obviously in desperate need of a good burst of satire and general fun-poking.

Not that long ago Scotland was a 'Celtic Tiger' standing proudly alongside Eire and looking admiringly at it's economic success.  'That could be us' was the cry.  If only we were like Eire and had control over our own economic affairs, then as a member of the EU we would enjoy the sort of boom that they are having.  Look at all the wealth and the financial services they are developing.

Then came the bust, and Eire found that as a member of the Eurozone it couldn't do anything to stop its economy imploding, and budget cuts were the only option available to them. A bit like Scotland really, as prescribed by Westminster, and for many of the same reasons.  With interest rates at record lows, cutting budgets is the only tool available.

But like MacCavity, the SNP MSPs weren't there.  They had already abandoned the belief in the Celtic Tiger, and moved onto ideologies new.

The Arc of Prosperity was the new buzz.  Like Iceland and Norway, we were outside the Eurozone and so free from those risks, and as proud independent nations we could follow their example and control our own finances in a way that was only possible by small independent countries.

At least that was the model we were being urged to follow until the Icelandic banks went belly-up closely followed by the Scottish ones: when suddenly the emphasis was changed.

Today we are being urged to look at Spain.  And this is where I feel that the search for role models really demonstrates an underlying change in the SNP policy, not for a cultural reason, but for economic and intensely party politcal reasons.

Until recently - and just when did this stop being the case - Catalonia was being held up as the model for the new Scotland.  I remember countless MSPs and MEPs extolling the virtues of the Catalan struggle for economic and political independence from Spain.  The ties were the language struggle - now rejected by the majority - and the grinding of the economy under the heel of the evil Spanish empire.

The similarities were all to apparent, and no-one need to draw out the implications for the common interests between the two.  Remember the  campaigns to have both Catalan and Gaelic as official EU languages.

But now we are being pointed at the Basque country, and it is here that the political change can be seen.

The Basques are content to operate as a semi-autonomous state inside Spain, and the economy has boomed as they have ruthlessly exploited thier opportunities to build a thriving economy.  Independence is muttered about, but is not a serious political topic, as everything is rosy in the garden.  If Catalonia is (was?) Scotland, then the Basque region is more like Cornwall.

Is this really the model that the SNP are holding out for its supporters?

Coming so soon after the abandonment of the Independence referendum and its transparent sidelining as a major issue for the SNP (at least at present) are we going to be faced with the two major parties at the next Holyrood elections both fighting for the flavour of devolution that suits them best?

It looks that way, whatever noises the SNP may make about Independence remaining the/an objective.


Openly Fruity said...

And where do we look to for these Basques now Top Drawer has gone?
Oh and the Basque Separatist that's the one without the suspender belt, right?

Anonymous said...

There is a great deal of truth in your observations, Angus. One of the major problems of the SNP for me has always been the way they occupy an ever-shifting area of the atlas. One minute it's 'Scotland In Europe' - even printed below their name on the ballot paper. The next it's comparisions with places like Norway and Iceland - both outside the EU.(They can't have it both ways!) Now, they've moved onto the Basque Country etc.

Even then they continually cherry-pick the best bits from these nations. For instance, Ireland may have enjoyed cheap fuel for years. However, many of its citizens pay for both an educational and medical system outwith the State, adding to their bills. Comparision between one nation and the next can never be an exact science and it is the height of intellectual dishonesty for the SNP to pretend that it is so.

The other thing that has always made me distrustful of the SNP is its use of the personality cult. One wonders what country outside Zimbabwe has words similar to 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' printed on the ballot paper. Is it healthy for any political party to give an individual such clout or importance? Not if you're living in a non-Presidential state, it ain't!

Part of me would like to be convinced by the SNP. (I certainly have my reservations about being a citizen of the UK.) However, it seems to be that the level of political debate fostered by that party is a major hurdle, preventing me from taking them entirely seriously. The sloganeering and cheap rhetoric displayed by many of their supporters is also an issue. They seem to think that the world will alter if the flag that flaps above them is altered.

Well, I got news for them. It won't!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Basque Country is the Cornwall of Spain/

How wrong can you be - I lived in Spain for only 6 Months and can safely draw the comparisons between the Basque Country and Catalunya,

Firstly, Catalunya is only deemed a Region of Spain. Unlike Scotland, they recieve a much higher precent of the money they send to the senate back each year (60%)

Secondly, I am pretty sure Basques have a higher standing in terms of autonomy in Spain - I think.

Thirdly, Spain is heading for a massive crash, however The Catalan national identity and longing for independence has never been stronger. Its very visible on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Didn't we get to the Basque country via Australia? Where next for the SNP? Costa Rica? Singapore?

Anonymous said...

It is surely useful to look at other parts of the world to learn and apply their hard-learned lessons in the hope that we can avoid the same mistakes. It might be nice to bring the mediterranean diet, the scandinavian welfare and tax system, the US attitude to new businesses and the Swiss standards of banking. And frankly I would be disappointed if the powers that be were not actively looking at and comparing other systems. But we cannot metamorphose the scottish midgie into the continental mosquito. Nor, perhaps, would we want to.

We are what we are, just one of the richest countries in the world (yes, even after the credit crunch) try to take a bit more responsibility for our own destiny.

Anonymous said...

Re - 9.26

Clearly I would agree with your point. It is obviously beneficial to examine the way other countries perform certain tasks etc.

However, this should always be done in context, not focussing on one issue and neglecting to examine others. For instance, it may be true that motorists in Ireland pay less tax on their fuel than those in Scotland. What, however, do they pay in terms of purchase tax (or VAT)?? Education? Health? Road tax? Income tax levels? None of the broad picture is ever given by propagandists for the SNP. Instead, they depend on people's ignorance of these matters to make their case.

It's an even greater problem because everyday that passes for the SNP is another step on a geographical merry-go-round. One day it's Scotland in Europe. The next, it's Norway or Iceland. After that, if something goes wrong in that part of the world, it's the Basque country....

This is not grown-up politics. It's an insult to those who might consider voting for them.