There is something bothering me over the politics concerning the Scottish withdrawal from the Union Treaty and it is the perceived and actual lack of any reasoned debate. What passes for debate is more related to gangs in the primary school playground and the 'My Dad's bigger than your Dad' megaphone ranting. This is routinely followed by the 'Oh yes he is: Oh no he's not.' political pantomime performance on 'prestigious' media programs which are deemed 'prestigious' by the makers of the programs and the political pantomime performers themselves. Yet according to other self appointed judges in the media circus which follows the political pantomime around it is true, these programs are 'prestigious'. Here, in a nutshell, is the fundamental problem with any debate and its follow up coverage; the lunatics are running the asylum. The result is a total disregard for the integrity of the information being placed in the public purview as the 'message' or 'being on message' is the yardstick by which political performance is measured by both the pantomime players and the media circus which follows it around. All political media and presentational output is heavily censored so we only hear what it is agreed we should hear - a situation which lacks any integrity at which ever level you care to look at it.
Is integrity important as it is so roundly abused?
To answer this question we need to remind ourselves just what the term 'integrity' is defined as meaning:
Origin:late Middle English (in integrity (sense 2)): from French intégrité or Latin integritas, from integer 'intact' (see integer). Compare with entirety, integral, and integrate
Link to Oxford On Line Dictionary.
In terms of the political argument I am using integrity to exemplify the condition of being sound in construction. Yet as we are used to being forced fed a diet of half truths, distorions and misrepresentations from our politicians why should I get all upset about what I see as a lack of integrity surrounding the argument about withdrawal from the Treaty of Union and a return of a Scottish independent state and nation?
Surely the Scottish people deserve more than playground cat calling and hair pulling which is manifest at present because it is unrelated to how Scots view themselves as being fundamentally honest and moral people. The Scots as a people see themselves as having 'integrity, an integrity that is based on our inherent social democratic leanings, the idea and practice that we care for those around us in the community directly through voluntary work or indirectly through taxes and the widespread benefits they deliver from the NHS via care for our elderly, education all the way to the safety net that restricts the level of poverty amongst the worst off in our society.
This sense of 'integrity' with in the Scottish community of the realm is not a modern phenomenon. It has its base in Scottish social history and the operation of kinship / Clan that preceded the introduction of a more feudal society in the 12th Century which had little impact on the loyalty of kinship or Clan and the obligations associated with it. This sense of kinship only died in rural areas of Scotland as the land owners (the clan chiefs, the titled nobles and landed gentry of Scotland) became absentee landlords and left the running of the estates to factors who were expected to turn a profit. In Scotland's burghs the system of quasi 'kinship' of belonging to the burgh still operated with poor relief run by the guilds in concert with burgh councils and the church. benefactors would endow the creation and running of 'Hospital Schools' for the orphans of guild members or the children of members down on their luck. In Edinburgh two of the better known were George Heriot's Hospital and George Watson's Hospital.
This communal sense of Scottish integrity was also powerful in the early days of the Scottish Trade Union movement and the Independent Labour Party it spawned, integrity was important to those taking part in the Govan rent strikes as it was sixty years later during the Upperclyde Shipbuilder's work in. Integrity is not a class issue in Scotland, it is not about the stiff upper lip (though Calvanism certainly helped promote the concept) and the creation of a leadership class, Scottish integrity is a state of being whole and undivided, a deep rooted sense of kinship - Here's tae us, wha's like us? Guy few an' thir aa deid! Integrity is important to Scots - it has a deep hold on our psyche and a sense of who we are. It is maybe why immigrants find Scotland welcoming; they like and are made to feel part of the Scottish 'kin'. A recent survey carried out on behalf of the Racial Discrimination Board highlighted that while in England most of immigrant stock defined themselves as British Indian, British Pakistani or British Afro-Carribean the same groups north of the border simply defined themsleves as being 'Scottish'. Things are still not completely rosy in the world of Scottish kinship, there remains the curse of the sectarian divide, based less on religion than we might think and more on the need to control others thought inferior or blacklegs and put them in their place. It was about the influx of Irish immigrants and their negative impact on wages that fueled this divide: a divide made worse by the Trade Unions demonisation of the immigrant Irish - their religious difference was by mere happen chance.
Integrity still matters. It has a big say in why the SNP have such sizable support at present. It is why Scottish people invest greater trust in Holyrood than Westminster it is increasingly why more and more Scots are turning against Westminster rule to seek autonomy at least and independence if there is no other option and it is at this point I return to the political playground cat calling which passes as reasoned debate and the associated media circus. The Scots are recognising the lack of integrity in both the political classes and the media. Newspapers that used to be the voice of the Scottish nation are in circulation freefall which has little to do with the internet and a lot to do with a product that is playing an old fashioned political game, still popular at Westminster, which Scots have grown tired of. The BBC, once a bastion for informed, balanced news and current affairs, has become a parody of itself in Scotland with a satirical spoof website often being confused for the real thing. They have lost the trust of the Scottish people, these media organisation in Scotland are not seen to have much, if any, integrity.
This lack of integrity is increasingly why the 'No' campaign is failing. There is little or no integrity in a campaign that tells Scots of all shapes and sizes we are 'scroungers' and 'benefit junkies' who are too poor, too wee and too stupid to run our own country when in the current economic conditions with one hand tied behind its back by Westminster the Scottish Government are performing better in sustaining Scotland's economy than Westminster is doing for the UK as a whole. Where is the integrity in a campaign that stays quiet about the £11,200 per head of UK Government subsidy to London and the SE and whines about the £9,400 per head Scotland gets of which only around 45% makes it across the Scottish border the rest is deducted at source to pay for Union benefits like Defence, Borders Agency or the Scottish Office (Wales is £9,300 and the English regions outside London and the SE is £9,200, Northern Ireland is a whopping £11,400 according to recent National Audit Office figures). Over the last 14 days we have seen these same messages of Scottish incompetence broadcast by both New Labour and the Conservative's Scottish regions with the cheery underpinning message of 'If you do not vote 'No', Scotland's doomed' (though less noise has been made of the other 'No' Campaign 'truth' - even if you vote 'No', Scotland's doomed).
The SNP are no plaster saints either. They are keeping quiet about the legal and constitutional fact that Westminster has neither the legal nor consitutional powers to offer Scotland Devo-max or Full Fiscal Autonomy as to do so fundamentally alters the Treaty of Union. Such a fundamental alteration to the Treaty of Union can only be made by the original signatories - the sovereign parliaments of Scotland and England. The SNP have floated a devo-max carrot to fence sitting Scots to keep them happy, knowing it was a non-starter as a sovereign English Parliament would not see any advantage in creating a new confederal UK constitution as it would, at a stroke, end all the current constitutional shenanigan's hidden behind the claims of Westminster's 'unlimited sovereignty'. Why would the English wish to associate themselves with a bunch of 'Scottish subsidy junkies' in a clear case of Westminster propaganda, friendly fire. Even worse, an English neo-liberal government (either red or blue) that would be faced in a confederal union with a bunch of 'Scottish subsidy junkies' who, under FFA, could easily afford the welfare and healthcare system the current Westminster government claims is unaffordable for Scotland and England.
To Scots, integrity still matters