Scotland after Brexit

Stands Scotland where she did? is a question that requires no answer.

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In my new book Winning The Second Independence Referendum - a manifesto for Scotland and the EU after Brexit I try and explore where Scotland stands after Brexit and where she might stand after a vote for independence.

Brexit has not made a vote for Independence a certainty by any means - but it has transformed the terrain on which the next referendum will be held - if indeed it comes to a referendum and not a general election. Indyref was a battle between a Continuity Scotland and an Actually-Existing Scotland - the next struggle is over 2 competing Discontinuity Scotlands.

In the book I try and address how we got here with Brexit and what the future looks like. The European Union is designed to be a warm bath for competing nationalism and was the ideal place to hatch 2 new countries - outside it is a harsher world.

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Essential reading for members of the SNP and you can buy it now or read on for an extract.

Now with a new chapter!

Trump changes everything for Brexit - the UK’s putative new foreign policy is in tatters, the dream of a mid-atlantic anglophone Regeanite UK is on fire. But Trump is also a threat to the dominanace of US tech in the modern economy - and that creates opportunities if we are bold enough to take them.

What the politicians said

‘This is a good - and fairly quick - read for anyone interested in the future of Scotland post-Brexit. Recommended.’

Nicola Sturgeon - First Minister

What the critics think

‘Gordon Guthrie is the pro-independence campaign’s secret weapon. He rejects trite platitudes to take on big issues and ask difficult questions. Crucially, he demands Scottish nationalists take time to think seriously about building their case. Yes campaigners should pay heed to him. No campaigners should be glad there aren’t more like him.’

Euan McColm - Scotland On Sunday columnist

‘Brexit has further undermined the Nats’ dodgy economic prospectus for independence, but also the notion of the UK as a guaranteed safe space for Scotland.

With this book Guthrie starts the hard intellectual slog of thinking about how and why an independent Scotland could work in the EU and outside the UK - shying neither from the short-term economic pain it would entail nor the long-term consequences of trying to make Scotland any kind of significant player in Europe.’

Chris Deerin - Scottish Daily Mail columnist, Director of External Relations Blavatnik School Of Government

About the author

Gordon Guthrie is a former SNP Parliamentary candidate. He wrote the Electoral Systems Review for the Party back in 2002 which lead the introduction of Activate and new ways of campaigning. He is also the author of War Is Coming of which it was said:

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‘This is a deeply provocative analysis that is as alarming as it is provocative and as pessimistic as it is alarming. A fresh storm is brewing. No book, far less a pamphlet, can solve the myriad problems with which east and west are confronted but no-one can find the answers unless the recognise the questions. Guthrie asks good questions which, if nothing else, is a start.’

Alex Massie - Spectator columnist

‘You may not agree with some of Guthrie’ analysis, nor some of his remedies, but I guarantee he will make you question your most basic assumptions about how we keep ourselves secure in the new world order.’

Kenny Farquharson - Times columnist

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The book was ably edited by Gina Davidson.

Watch War Is Coming

Gordon Guthrie launch of War is Coming by David P Scott from Bella Caledonia on Vimeo.


I am available for public meetings, radio or television, ping me on Twitter @gordonguthrie or email me

If you would like a preview copy of the book to review, hit me up.

What Scotland and the EU after Brexit covers

The book is split into two parts. Firstly an analytical part that explores the world we are in:

Introduction - This is unashamedly a manifesto - What should we learn from the first independence referendum? - So how did we get here? - After Brexit - How do we win the argument for independence? - What would staying in the UK look like? - What could leaving look like? - What opportunities does this Independence-with-Brexit present to us? - How do we make Scotland a new European country? - What are the downsides?

The second part is a set of 63 recommendations for an independent Scotland after Brexit:

A manifesto for an Independent Scotland in Europe - Practical steps - The transfer of powers from Westminster - The structure of the government and the organisation of the Holyrood parliament - The currency - Political status for resident EU and rUK nationals - Changes to Scottish Enterprise and other economic development functions - Changes to Scottish Universities - Changes to local government - The built environment - Culture, promotion and soft power - Reconciliation with opponents of Independence - Security - Final words

Extract from Scotland and the EU after Brexit

The Brexit vote was merely a predictable political crisis. Multi-national states usually have elaborate checks and balances to ensure disruptive events don’t come to pass: double majorities, federal institutions, constitutions. The unreformed UK doesn’t.

But Brexit is not, and will not be the cause of the next step in Scotland’s journey. The driving force in the evolving constitutional story of these islands remains British nationalism, and its hidden twin English nationalism.

In 1882 the French historian Ernest Renan said a nation is a daily plebiscite, an act of remembering and forgetting. Nationalism is merely the sense of ‘who we are’ and ‘our place in world’. Nationalisms can be benign or malignant, inclusive or exclusive, ‘better than’ or ‘not worse than’, civic, ethnic, political or cultural. All are some mixture, but nationality is the modern condition.

Europe has had her ethnic, exclusive, ‘better than’ nationalisms and has moved beyond them, but Slovenians are not less Slovenian, nor Germans less German than before.

Scotland has grown up from the nationalism of the whipped cur, the feeling of inferiority, of being rubbish that I remember as a child.

The problems of British nationalism are not those of ethnic exclusivity, although there is a hidden current of that. England remains a diverse country – London particularly so – immigrants from all continents are embedded in society and play a major role in civic and political life. The central political problem of the UK is the belief amongst the political classes that the London Parliament is the peerless legislature, and that Britain remains a great power – the maker of Libya and the breaker of Iraq, the guarantor of Ukraine and a global beacon.

Brexit brings this political problem to the fore. Good governance and strong economies are properly the business of dull, meticulous government, of grinding out incremental improvement of getting slightly better each year. This is entirely inimical to the dominant tone of Westminster politics over the last two decades – the dramatic ‘solution’ of Middle Eastern politics that Iraq promised, the ‘surgical’ intervention in Libya and now the escape to freedom, from the ‘tyranny’ of Europe into the world.

The world increasingly looks like Europe – the African Union has just embarked on the single African passport.

The future looks European – not as a sunny uplands of perfection – as a messy complicated place, with difficult decision and trade-offs, of imperfection, and, yes, failures and successes. Its successes will come from an intertwingling of peoples and countries – as will its failures.

But Brexit is an attempt to escape to the past – to a world that no longer exists, if it ever existed. A past in which the new Scotland, a Scotland we have spent 25 years building, is not welcome.

This book does not shrink from the reality of a hard economic break with the rest of the UK - this is not the outcome any of us would have wished. The European institutions are designed as warm and soft arms into which competing nationalities can sink and resolve their differences. Two new states in Europe was always the best option.

The English are bent on Brexit and Brexit they shall have, if we cannot change it we maun thole it.

Some of the recommendations

50 - These recommendations are from the culture section of the book The Scottish government should set up a major arts and cultural prize – you might say the Nobel Prizes for European Culture. The prize should be awarded by an Academy – whose first iteration should be based on the people in and around the Edinburgh Festivals. The prize date should be on the half-phase with the Edinburgh Festivals – February – and it should be based in Glasgow. The Academy should be grown into the European Academy – a strategic cultural institution.

51 - The 63 recommendations cover immigration, citizenship, the economy, the structure of government, the role of our universities and culture The Edinburgh Festivals have the on-the-ground logistics of an Olympics – but the global broadcast/internet presence is a fraction of what it could be. Scotland should invest in making the Edinburgh Festivals ‘live to air’ promiscuously – not on a per-venue, per-festival basis. The presumption should be that if you wish to talk to the world – come to Edinburgh and it will happen.

52 - The Edinburgh International Festival was started to bring the best of European High Culture together. Around that core – a range of English-only Festivals have mushroomed that make Edinburgh the greatest cultural city of the Anglo-Sphere. Scotland should examine ways to turn that success back out – make Scotland the greatest soft power in European Culture. Perhaps that means franchising the Festivals model into, say, Krakow and Barcelona – with content in Polish, German, Hungarian or Spanish, French and Italian respectively. There are plenty of ambitious European cities well-connected but off the main cultural drag, who would welcome working with us.

53 - People do not migrate from country to country, instead individuals follow migration routes – Italians from Barga in Tuscany moved to Glasgow, and then on from Glasgow to the rest of Scotland – and their descendants now number about two percent of the population. Scotland should focus its twinning, collaboration, cultural and promotional activities on cities – cities with which we have cheap air links – the better to maximise the flow of European citizens to work and live here.

54 - The Erasmus programme is one of the great drivers of European undergraduates around Europe – and its status in rUK is in doubt. A priority should be made to try and capture as much of the UK’s Erasmus ‘traffic’ as possible.

55 - Ireland was very successful in the 1980s with a scheme where artists (fairly loosely defined) didn’t pay income tax. Scotland should consider a similar scheme – perhaps capped – an artists personal allowance of £50,000. The wave of disruption that is sweeping through newspapers, publishing, television and the performing arts at the moment leaves many creatives in a perilous position with respect to money. Some love and attention might mean we can acquire a valuable strategic community on the cheap.

The end

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Scotland after Brexit - Gordon Guthrie