Canongate Wall and the Indyref Franchise question

This is a guest post. Mr Littler moved to Scotland in 2017 and he approached me asking if I would be prepared to publish his response to the position Professor Alf Baird was taking. I made clear if it was a response that was quality writing, polite and focussed on genuine debate I would be happy to do so. I think Mr Littler has observed those conditions and below is his article which is published in full, without alteration. I have offered Professor Baird the opportunity of reply and I hope to publish that response tomorrow. I am always happy to facilitate debate when it is carried out in a civilised and educational manner. It is what this blog site is for.

Alexander Gray’s words, set into the Canongate wall of Holyrood


Sometime after moving from England to Scotland in 2017, I came across a stanza from Alexander Gray’s poem ‘Scotland’ set into the Canongate wall of our Holyrood Parliament. As a ‘brexit Refugee’, married to an EU citizen, these words were curiously welcoming, especially as we had moved to Scotland because we felt that we shared Scottish values and we would join the fight for Independence.

My encounter with the words faded from memory, sadly not refreshed by walking and marching by many times since. Very recently, I expressed to a good friend my disquiet at Professor Alf Baird’s proposals that the franchise for a future Indyref might exclude those such as myself, born in England. The next morning, this friend, one of the earliest to make me feel welcome in Scotland, texted me Gray’s words, having herself just passed by Canongate. That those words should be both directed to me by a born Scot and set into the walls of my chosen Parliament is a moving experience.

Gray’s words only imply Blood and Soil and for context, I could only claim that connection through a Grandmother who died nearly six decades ago. But just living in Scotland is making a stronger connection grow for me and Gray names the third and vital element of connection explicitly – Sweat. We labour together for the same Independent Scotland, we share the same values of a Sovereign People. And we work for the restoration of the ancient realm.

As none of the citizens of 1707 survive, restoration of the ancient realm must also be the emergence of a new state. Which leads to Alf Baird’s question: Who should have the franchise to vote in an Indyref? Alf and others suggest that only those who were born in Scotland and perhaps others born in the UK who have resided in Scotland for a good number of years should be allowed to vote.

I have seen the graphs shown on Yours For Scotland and other sites and I would not dispute that the 2014 referendum was lost on the back of the votes of English incomers. However, that was then and as of now, we have no referendum in sight. But this leaves 2 Questions1. Will adjusting the franchise for a future referendum actually ‘resolve’ the problem of the votes of English incomers? 2. If adjusting the franchise does ‘resolve’ the problem, would this be a good idea?

On the first Question, I believe that to adjust the franchise would not even be as good as the classic military mistake of fighting the last war – in this case by seeking to disable the enemy’s assets that won them that war. By the time we have a referendum, it is likely that at least 10 years will have passed since 2014 [a vexatious matter in itself]. So if we exclude incomers of less than 10 years standing … Yes, we will have assimilated into the franchise all of those incomers who lost us Independence in 2014.

Moreover, we will have frozen out of the franchise post 2014 incomers, who will be hardly unaware of the prospect of Scottish Independence. Many of these, like my partner and myself will have moved to Scotland in varying degrees of expectation that Scotland is on a pathway to becoming Independent, many of whom will be determined to vote for Independence.

In Part 3 [Determinants of Independence Demographics] of Professor Baird’s series, Alf makes the point that English migration to Scotland is “oriented towards the professional and managerial classes”. But we know that this demographic, across the UK is most opposed to brexit. We also know that in Scotland the part of the demographic opposed to Independence in 2014 because of the threat of losing EU membership is turning to support Independence precisely because it rejects both the concept and the implementation of brexit.

On the other hand, there are indications that some 2014 ‘Yes’ voters voted for Independence on the ‘Project Fear’ arguments that Scotland would have to leave the EU, but would now vote against Independence because the UK has given them the brexit they desire. UK demographics indicate that such people are likely to be the less educated, which on Alf Baird’s arguments about incomers suggest that they are likely to be Scots, with the possible effect that born Scots might be less likely to vote for Independence than they were in 2014.

I would state that I am unaware of polling evidence one way or the other on how incomers of specifically English origin both pre and post 2014 now regard the question of Independence. But we can note that the profound changes wrought by brexit and observe that the Scottish professional demographic which contains the English incomers is becoming noticeably more positive to Independence.

Thus it seems a no-brainer to me that, before proposing to change the franchise to exclude English incomers on the basis of evidence from 2014, we would have to take note of significant changes since that time and ask ourselves whether that evidence is a sound basis on which to exclude mainly English incomers from the Indyref franchise.

But even before considering whether to exclude English incomers on demographic grounds, we really should address my second and more important Question – would it be a good idea?

A win in an Indyref can never be an end. We must constantly remind ourselves it is no more than a beginning. To win an Indyref requires just 50% + 1 on the day, but the success of Independence requires everyone to be accepting of the outcome and engage positively.

Welsh Devolution was delivered in 1997 on a vote of just 50.3%. In the 2021 Senedd election, parties campaigning to abolish the Senedd had very little traction. Welsh Devolution has succeeded, primarily because of ‘loser consent’. Brexit was delivered in the UK on 51.9%, with Scotland 62% opposed, as we know full well. Arguably, brexit does not have ‘loser consent’ and the UK is now  captive of a government which denies the obvious need for ‘loser consent’, preferring instead to play solely to its core brexit support. The consequence is the UK is becoming more divided, with government becoming increasingly coercive [for example, suppression of dissent via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill] and degrading their own ability to govern by consent.

So, how might excluding mainly English incomer votes play out after a successful Indyref? Obviously, Scotland would see ethnically cleansing by deportation as unacceptable, besides being substantially destructive of any international ambitions Scotland might have. Our choice would be whether to give those people Scottish Citizenship?

I believe the question of giving Scottish Citizenship to English incomers excluded from the Indyref would be moot, because either way any resentments resulting from being excluded from the Indyref franchise would inevitably be bottled up within the country. Of course, excluding English incomers from the Indyref franchise would reduce the effort required to win, firstly simply on the numbers to be persuaded, but secondly, by eliminating the need to make the case for Independence in a way which appeals to incomers.

And on the second point, we would have squandered the opportunity to engage the incomers as participants in Independence, abandoning them to conclude that they are no more than second class citizens regardless of whether they are offered Citizenship post-Indyref. If incomers were given Citizenship, they might seek to vote in the first election for which they were eligible as a rerun of the Indyref with their votes and accumulated displeasure incorporated. If however incomers were excluded from Citizenship, a significant part of our population would have very little stake in the success of Scotland. Indeed, this might bring to the fore the forces for partition in ‘unionist enclaves’ which Alf Baird mentions.

There is a better way and that is to understand Gray’s words and recognise the sweat of all who labour here as no different from the blood and soil of those who were born here. Going forward from here, we need to include incomers in our national endeavours and engage them in working as one with us. To build the better and stronger nation, we need a successful Indyref, which includes all who make their lives in Scotland.

None the less, even words written in the foundations of our Parliament should not go unquestioned, and Alf Baird has raised an important issue. Of course, I must thank Iain Lawson for giving me this space and I hope that the sweat of all of us will etch Gray’s words deeper into our foundations.

Vince Littler

MY COMMENTS

Thank you Mr Littler for your well written piece. I will leave it to Professor Baird to pen his response.

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63 thoughts on “Canongate Wall and the Indyref Franchise question

  1. Well said, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am a Scot married to an Englishman who has lived here 37 years. We have two English children, both of whom have lived here almost all their lives. The eldest all but 3 years and the youngest 11 months. All have worked and sweated for Scotland, all in favour of independence, my husband was in 2014 and has never wavered.
    To exclude people who live here makes it feel like it’s something the Westminster Parliament would do to gerrymander the outcome.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Respectfully remind you that it is the current franchise in Scotland that is almost unique in its universal structure. Every country has franchise conditions strictly reserved to the indigenous people plus long term residents. There is no doubt that franchise cost us Independence in 2014.

      Liked by 12 people

      1. Iain

        I think it may be useful to reflect a little deeper on the 2014 referendum voting pattern rather than homing in only on incoming english voters.

        Voter registration was 97% but votes casts were 83%.

        Large sections of working class folks and youth didn’t turnout to vote: e.g. West Central Scotland, etc.

        Why and how do we change this in a future vote.

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      2. No I think an 83% turnout was quite remarkable and well above average in turnout in comparison with turnouts in other countries on constitutional referenda in modern times. I do not recall singling out English voters I was speaking about the common franchise exclusions operated in the rest of Europe in relation to incomers/ non citizens.

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    2. As I read Alf’s piece, there is no suggestion people would have to have been born here but to have some substantial element of permanence about their residency.
      The real concern is people who have just moved up, especially for work and those who abuse the present rules by transferring to their second, or third, home in order to vote.

      Liked by 7 people

  2. Thank you for this

    As a refugee from the Irish Troubles (or one who released that the Scottish settlers had no right in Ireland) i was really depressed by teh idea of Prof Baird. So much so that I backed away from the Independence movement until the questions was resolved, and too angry to write coherently on the topic.

    Thank you for a reasoned discussion demonstrating just how foolish and immoral Professor Baird’s ideas are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I understand it Alf Baird has proposed a franchise broadly similar to the norm in virtually all European countries. Is it your position therefore that virtually all European countries are “foolish and immoral”?

      Liked by 12 people

    2. Edward with all due respect you say

      “( As a refugee from the Irish Troubles or one who released that the Scottish settlers had no right in Ireland)

      So you have been impacted severely by the implantation of Scots and English by the Brutish state into Ireland to the extent that you have HAD to leave your homeland and move to another country, yet you are outraged that Scots would with some clarity based on your own circumstances and example refuse to allow or counteract the exact same thing happening here

      I would be interested in your opinion of how allowing incomers the independence vote would NEGATE the same circumstances you have suffered from

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Because Scotland sold itself as practiceing civic Nationalism. This development is a move away. As one who has been content to think of themselves as a Scot because of this Civic Nationalism this move to blood and soil Nationalist. And the attitude which I see coming out is disturbing in the extreme and makes me fear what an independent Scotland would be like and if there would be a future for those who are not Scottish by birth.

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      2. I am not grasping your logic Edward , as I said you are outraged at what the Brutish plantation settlers did to your country so you maybe feel this is some form of payback or revenge by insisting that settlers in Scotland should be allowed to determine the future of Scotland . TBH your use of the civic nationalism shtick is as misleading as the blood and soil shtick , I am always wary of people who proclaim they are independence supporters and when it is pointed out that the current franchise with 72% of incomers voting against independence would probably result in a further defeat for indy , but they insist that civic nationalism demands that they are entitled to a vote even though that vote is skewed toward defeat

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      3. If you were not an anonymous poster and therefore liable to be a Troll I would have replied(I actually had a reply written) but I don’t with people who do not make a public position. Enough to say that you are making assumptions

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    3. Edward: all nationalism is blood and soil nationalism. How could it not be? The Scots fought, bled and died for Scotland in the past. Scoland’s people have been invaded and massacred on a number of occasions, and always by the same neighbour. Civic nationalism is part of the blood and soil nationalism of Scotland because we want to realize our independence without resorting to bloodshed. Blood and soil is a phrase usually applied to Nazi ideology, but it has not inherent value for good or ill until it is translated by human beings into something bad. The Nazis used their innate nationalism and patriotism and twisted it out of shape to turn it into imperialism. Look at what they did: they invaded countries that thy had no right to invade; they stole their resources and plundered their assets. That is naked imperialism. If only people would understand the links between Nazism’s ‘Lebensraum’ and imperialism. They are identical, even down to the concentration camps (South Africa and the Boer War?). Scotland’s nationalism, one would hope, would never come to that. I doubt that any of us on this thread, and neither Iain nor Alf, have any notions of conquering others’ countries. All we want is our independence to run our own. As for Scots in Ireland, yes, they have been a thorn in the flesh of Ireland’s peaceful resolution of its future, but things are changing, if very slowly, and the two sides are at least talking these days. We are not those Scots nor have any notion to be so, and most of us repudiate and regret that colonial past.

      Liked by 6 people

    1. There are differing views on this topic. This comes from my friend Gareth Wardell better known as GROUSEBEATER. 😐 “Your author Vince Littler starts with a false premise. To my certain knowledge, no one advocates removing English from the franchise in toto. This is the exaggeration to narrow the debate and portray Scots as racists. The closest people get to that argument is a proposal that settlers – from any nation – must be domiciled in Scotland no less than ten years. In other words, they mean to stay.

      Of course, we are continually exhorted to ‘convince the doubters’, an admission many settlers have no interest in Scotland’s democracy. Nor do people admit Scots have failed to convince their colonial masters to alter course for over 300 years.

      What our opponents refuse to acknowlerdge is the vast numbers of English that have moved to Scotland ‘for a better environment’, and bring with them London values and thoughts of empire. They impose upon Scotland an ethnic difference, that Scots are second-class citizens. There is always the exception to the rule, of course, but so what?

      Moreover, people who do not realise key posts in key institutions are now colonised making lines of communication corrupted. They know nothing and don’t care.This is why using a referendum to secure Scotland’s full rights is almost certainly an anti-democratic action guaranteed to lose again.

      When Gandhi told the British ambassador that, ‘Yes, that’s what I expect to happen, the English will walk out of India’, he had no qualms about insulting the nation that was bleeding India dry.

      To quote Albert Memmi: “Considering colonialism is also racism, we should not be surprised that ethnicity sits at the very core of this matter, in that: ‘Being oppressed as a group, the colonized must necessarily adopt a national and ethnic form of liberation.’ For an oppressed people such as the Scots to be really free, thus necessitates: ‘Assimilation being abandoned (because) attempts at imitating the colonizer required self-denial.’ And in this regard: ‘the colonizer’s rejection is the indispensable prelude to self-discovery’ of the colonized people themselves.”

      Arguments over whether the ‘E’ word should be mentioned usually come from the mouths of those who are happy to have Scotland a permanent prisoner of Westminster’s agenda.

      Magnanimity comes after independence.

      Gareth

      Liked by 16 people

      1. Mr Littler makes the crucial point that independence is about much more than winning the referendum. Altering the franchise to exclude demographics who voted No last time is a gift to unionists – gerrymandering instead of campaigning.

        We already see the problems that Brexit is causing by putting off foreign labour from coming to pick fruit, work in hospitality etc. Do a wee bit of that damage in areas such as medicine and finance and the hill Scotland has to climb to succeed gets much steeper.

        The campaign can’t be about just squeezing a win it has to be about winning by a significant margin – across all demographics.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Grousebeater is exactly right in what he says.

        Marty Curran – Alf has shown why the vote in 2014 was lost due the franchise used, and demonstrated that the franchise was unfair and that no other western nation would consider such a ridiculous franchise. This invented interpretation of ‘a franchise to exclude noes’ is NOT the point – it’s a discussion about how to make the franchise as fair as possible to the people that have an investment in our country.

        What utter nonsense that the EU vote franchise ‘put off people from picking fruit’ – the laws changed! The English government made it a hostile environment by promising limits to immigration & whipping up racist sentiment etc. Europeans don’t expect to get a vote in foreign countries. Are we so very dependent and colonised we can’t even vote for ourselves any more?!

        It is about how do we make the vote FAIR – what kind of franchise should we have to make it so? And I’m sorry, but inviting holiday makers and anyone that just happens to be passing to have a vote on a country’s future is about as far from FAIR as you can get. All in the name of inclusivity? what about everyone else in the world – do the Russians get a say? Maybe we should check with the people of Cambodia too? What about all the shell companies based in tax havens that own half the land in Scotland, maybe they should get a block 100 votes each? Where does it stop? How do you define the limits on being inclusive, and on what grounds?

        What are the KEY things that should be considered for testing if a country should be independent or not? The people ARE a country, it’s not just a tract of land, so how do you choose which people get to determine the future constitutional state of the country? People that happen to be there for a few years to make some money before moving on? No one in their right minds would suggest such (and those people themselves wouldn’t either) – it’s the people that were born and live in the country, and make up its permanent population. Then you decide the best way to broadly choose those people – the franchise.

        Alf, I believe, is inviting debate – use this opportunity to consider the rationale behind any franchise.

        Liked by 7 people

  3. A very eloquent piece and I welcome its publication. I would like make one point though, it is not about denying English people a vote per se, Welsh and NI people would be ineligible in the proposal too, though I accept English people are the largest demographic.

    “abandoning them to conclude that they are no more than second class citizens regardless of whether they are offered Citizenship post-Indyref.”

    None of us are Scots citizens at the moment since it doesn’t exist. I;d argue anyone llving in Scotland at the moment is a second class British citizen!

    However, Vince’s piece is EXACTLY the kind of response I’d hoped the original proposal would generate. One that offered a counter case with arguments, unlike many I’ve seen that just shouted “blood and soil” with no attempt to engage which Vince has.

    As I scientist I’ve been trained to identify an issue, gather facts, make arguments, identify solutions and propose theoretical frameworks.

    The issue here was that Scotland was denied independence by non natives (including EU citizens though they had different reasons).

    An analysis of franchises in other countries revealed that the 2014 franchise was the anomaly

    One solution would be to set our franchise in line with others which was the original proposal.

    Another could be to develop arguments that are more persuasive to the groups (plural!) that would appear more resistant to indy. Though you would need to acknowledge some folk are unpersuadable and I include some native Scots I know in that category.

    I should gather evidence and arguments but that the subject is one that should not be taboo. Unfortunately I think the whole issue is moot as there is no chance of an indy referendum in near to mid term. If we did have a leader that would fight for one we may need to go the the UN if Johnson remains intransigent. At that point it may be that the UN would set the franchise!

    Debate and thinking is required and so I thank Vince for his contribution

    Liked by 12 people

    1. “Scotland was denied independence by non natives”

      So have the Uni which produced that summary actually published the full data, rather than the simplistic set of slides I found on a previous occasion? It should be possible to do so, as long as no names or contact details are included. I’d certainly be very interested to see it.

      – how large was the sample of ‘non natives’ (how many English/Welsh/NI/EU)?
      – where was the polling conducted?
      – how many regions were polls conducted, and how large was the sample set in each?
      – what were the exact question(s) asked

      possibly other data points, since they obviously have age and sex of respondents.

      Like

      1. Also when does next year’s census start releasing some data – i.e. the number of “non natives” (of various classifications) currently living in Scotland?

        It’ll be interesting to see if the suggestion / fear of 1 million from rUK now living in Scotland holds true.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t see that there’s any need for an IndyRef2 since it has been proved that the majority of native Scots voted for independence the first time round. But it’s good to know that we have resident people like Vince Littler who are ready and willing to help recreate a superb Scottish State in the near future. Thank you Vince. Your contribution is very welcome and much appreciated.

    Liked by 11 people

  5. I think it is important to remember that the reason behind a voting franchise is not to exclude a particular set of people. It is there to protect folk who intend to make Scotland their home, no matter where they come from. As Iain intimated, the 2014 franchise was the outlier. If, for example (just an example!), there is a 5 year residency rule, of course the imperial newspapers will cry ‘blood and soil’, but they did that anyway in 2014 – this was used on a number of occasions by Alistair Darling. This is why a repeat of a section 30 (London franchise) shouldn’t be repeated, regardless of whether we have the same or a different voting franchise to 2014. We need more neutrality.

    Liked by 11 people

  6. It’s important not to forget why this debate even exists. It’s simply the desire to level the playing fields and negate any interference by Westminster in what is essentially a question for people living in Scotland. Mr. Littler does mention Project Fear but only attributes the effects as being beneficial to the Yes vote – something that seriously undermines his argument.

    We can debate who gets to vote endlessly and go round in circles from now until the referendum. However the real issue is how do we stop Westminster wondering out loud whether English Scots should lose their rights to a British passport if they vote yes or whether they refuse to honour pension obligations. With that level of interference worrying over voter eligibility seems rather pointless.

    Mr. Littler: A welcome article but next time leave out the “ethnic cleansing” it’s a rather ugly turn of phrase and does you no credit.

    Liked by 11 people

  7. Much of Vince Littler’s argument for permitting recent English ‘incomers’ to vote in any future referendum are based on the assertion that most are anti-Brexit and would support Independence since Scotland voted to Remain and would, therefore, most likely make moves to re-join the EU once fully self governing.

    But Scotland, newly independent and democratic, would have options. Any Indyref campaign in the future would surely make this clear – EFTA only, EFTA/EEA, full EU or isolationist would all be possible positions. If full fat EU was not looking the likely policy being advocated in a post-Indy Scotland would the newcomers from England still support Indy? We don’t know.

    Secondly, if we are to have a referendum, we should simply apply the UN rules: This avoids gerrymandering from the British state whilst accusations of blood and soil nationalism resulting from excluding persons can be dismissed since a third-party arbiter will be officiating.

    Liked by 12 people

  8. Those who believe a residency qualification might might exclude people who are less likely to vote Yes, might get an unpleasant surprise. I am surrounded by English people who would easily meet any reasonable residency qualification and are only hear for cheaper houses, a better NHS and free personal care, but who are firmly British.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. An independent Scotland will have the decision making processes taken by a Scottish parliament elected by the citizens of the nation, whatever those decisions may be. If the Scottish people decide against future EU membership will the rUK brexit refugees not be inclined to move on elsewhere?

    It may be that brexit and the political morass have been a major catalyst for post 2017 migration to Scotland from England. It may also be the cheaper property prices and access to universal benefits. It may be that they see Scotland as a better personal fit and may indeed be inclined to vote for independence by demanding citizenship in return as the price. Perhaps they see a future Scotland as a past England. This sounds very much like conditional support with alterior motives.

    Liked by 9 people

  10. You bring up very salient points, Vince, most of which have always deterred me from actually agreeing with the proposition that English people living in Scotland and contributing to Scotland should be denied their vote. It has always made me very uneasy. Having said that, English people living in Scotland have to address their own shortcomings on that score. They were in breach of international law and protocol in 2014 by taking it upon themselves to act as colonizers and deliberately thwarting an international obligation: not to interfere in the legitimate and legal and constitutional march of a nation. How do we reconcile these two positions?

    My preference would have been, this year, to make the election a constitutional one, and taken the win forward to the UN as a precursor to resiling the Treaty in international law, gaining for ourselves, at the same time, international recognition of our own currency, our own central bank and borrowing powers. The deliberate shortsightedness of the SNP leadership here is close to being criminally negligent. A party whose main policy is independence has behaved with such deliberate mal intent as to have rendered them utterly negligent in their duty of care to Scotland and to the Scots of all origins. Because something will be difficult does not mean it would be abandoned in favour of the ruling UK elite, but, basically, that is what has happened.

    You will appreciate, Vince, that Alf is not recommending illegal action, but adherence to international rules on constitutional matters such as ours? Nevertheless, I do take your points, and you highlight some of my own misgivings. I would fear a Northern Ireland situation if we go down this route. I do not believe at all in pre independence referendums because they are divisive and pointless in the end because they solve little. In fact, all that have been held in the past 50 years have been lost (Quebec, twice, Catalunya, New Caledonia and Scotland, partly because huge shifts towards independence are no longer viable in such mobile populations as we have now).

    For my part, I’d want the SNP leadership and its acolytes – the pseudo ‘woke’ – ejected forthwith, and wholesale, and replaced by a leadership for independence, to be embarked upon immediately by winning an election and resiling the Treaty, that followed by a ratifying referendum AFTER independence. All this could be achieved in six months if an appeal to the UN was made on grounds of preventing divisive actions by Westminster. That would avoid the dangers of a divisive, pre independence referendum and establish our Treaty rights and ancient sovereignty. All non-indigenous Scots living and working in Scotland, and who wish it, should be offered temporary citizenship immediately on independence, wherever they originate, and to be ratified on application (at nominal cost) later. That leaves a door open to leaving Scotland for those who feel they cannot remain here. That is basically what the Balkan States did in relation to their Russian minorities. Nothing is perfect, but it does appear to have worked well enough, and offered protections to those Russians who feared expulsion or repression. Most stayed in their adopted homelands and continue to contribute to them.

    Liked by 12 people

  11. the attitudes have changed since 2014.The remainers who voted NO now have no reason to vote NO since brexit has changed british society. Whether Scotland is in EFTA or the EU it is going to be in a better trading position than England.

    With England being 11 times bigger there are always 11 times more candidates for professional positions and post school education staffing show this. Whether they vote YES or NO is
    a question

    Like

    1. Bruce: all studies suggest that a majority of rUK (perhaps smaller this time) would still vote NO.

      The problem does not lie in who applies for a job, albeit that most of the prime jobs in the cultural, educational and environmental an administrative sectors, in particular are all advertised south of the border and less so up here. Many Scots never actually get the opportunity to apply for them.

      That leads to those with supposedly greater expertise, but considerably less knowledge of Scotland, applying and being successful. In many cases, it is a poor bargain, indeed. In other words, these positions are weighted against indigenous Scots. It never fails to amaze me how few people (apparently) we produce in these sectors, if television appearances are anything by which to judge, and the accents that predominate. Having tried to find out about this, I found that that many have had to leave Scotland to get any of these types of jobs because they were not really open to them here. We are paying for the education of young people to leave and older people to retire to a country that offers more in the way of social benefits. It is unsustainable. The problem does not lie in opening our doors to all in sundry to buy up property and land, but to create sustainable jobs for our own people who can then contribute, and have families that will, in turn, contribute. As per, a great deal of Scottish malaise is home-grown, even as we whine about Westminster’s neglect.

      Being a relatively smallish country, these jobs should be open to Scots, in a percentage way, perhaps, or we will lose our young graduates forever. Any surplus can then be offered elsewhere. It seems that we deliberately encourage emigration of Scots and migration of rUK. We need to remember that, if the entire population of Scotland relocated to England, we would take up no more than a county, while unregulated English migration to Scotland could soon turn Scotland into the northernmost part of a Greater England. The SNP has been incredibly lax on this issue, always making excuses for inaction, as more Scots leave and those left are the poorest and the unemployed, our heavy and light industries having been destroyed by Thatcher and nothing substantial replacing them.

      If nothing else, the pandemic has shown how little the SNP administration has diverged from the Johnson one, even on matters of health which are devolved. It really is a disgrace. No one wants a Little Scotland, intent on isolation and repelling others when incoming talent can refresh and aid us, but it is getting out of hand and the tipping point is close now, when we will be unable to ever gain independence PEACEFULLY. That should not be forgotten if we don’t want another NI here when frustrations and anger finally erupt.

      Liked by 14 people

  12. When people come to live in Scotland, whether from England or elsewhere, they move to a different country. I think it is often hard for people coming from England to properly appreciate this. The fact that we welcome you does not mean you ‘belong’ here or are ‘from here’; I suspect most English incomers would not identify themselves in that way. The belonging question might be answered by how you would respond to the offer of Scottish citizenship post referendum. It may be difficult to exclude people from the ballot who would become citizens of the new state. Ruvi Zeigler and Bernard Ryan discuss these ideas at length here shorturl.at/axBDE

    If we have a second referendum on independence a decision will have to be made about the electoral franchise. I expect the Brexit franchise will have some impact. Many ‘incomers’ to the UK did not get a vote. It was not enough to live and work in the UK and have made a life here. It is also worth noting that the 2014 referendum also had a limited franchise and excluded people living here who were not EU citizens or citizens of a commonwealth country so the idea is not new.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. I would not want another referendum to decide our fate, no other country held a referendum, they just voted for the party that offered them the chance of being INDY. That is what this country has been doing since 2007, 2015 saw us sweep the UNIONISTS side in the G.E at Time we also had a majority in HR. THAT should have been all that was required for the INDY party of governance to end the treaty, dissolve the union, and take our case to the U.N for recognition as an INDEPENDENT country. It is how other countries TOOK their INDEPENDENCE. And at one time that was the rules the SNP held. A majority at WM and OFF we go..

    Referenda are not the route for such decisions being made. Elections ARE..

    If the SNP or any INDY party stated that the next election would be a plebiscite for INDY, then the people would KNOW exactly what they were voting for..

    The SNP could still do this, we have a majority still at WM, Sturgeon if serious about INDY and if she trusts her back up in the Green Party. Then the majority is there for a vote IN house on INDY. A win is a win, we ignore WM from there-on-in. BUT..

    If she is serious about INDY, she could call another election, Alex threatened to do it a couple of times when running a minority government.
    She could do this too, making it clear that if there is a majority of INDY parties elected. Then she takes OUR case to the U.N & declares the people have spoken/chosen their favoured path..

    There is NO way in this earth that WM will ever allow Scotland to WIN a referendum on INDY.. NO way..

    So we must stop talking about that as a route to take..

    As for Vince & every other non Indigenous Scots living here, I can see his point in how there are people fleeing England because of this horrid Government. And they would be happy to vote YES, then do it by voting for an INDY party that will stick to the mandates they are given and will promise a plebiscite..

    Anything less offered is just another long winded scam..

    Scots were not allowed a vote on JOINING the The UNION with England, a handful of rogues took money from WM to sell us out..

    We have that right to evoke what we never asked to be part of.. a UNION that has never worked for us as a country.

    Liked by 11 people

  14. A measured and considered argument from Mr Littler, much better by far than the inflammatory responses that have been expressed elsewhere by those from within the independence movement claiming to speak on behalf of incomers like himself. (One small quibble though; I was expecting some reference to the usual ‘blood and soil’ insult which has come frequently from those same quarters, aiming to shut down debate and just as I was silently congratulating Mr Littler for not doing so, it did creep in at the end! However, it did not spoil the general tenor of his argument which was restrained.)

    I await Professor Baird’s response with interest but meanwhile, most of the comments above countering Mr. Littler’s concerns are ones I would endorse. What is being suggested is in line with international practice elsewhere. I don’t see why Scotland should be held to a different standard. The interference and bad faith of the Westminster government last time must be neutralised and the suggestion of international oversight seems a good idea. A constitutional approach to independence seems the best approach, for the reasons set out by lorncal above.

    Anyway, there is the time factor here which might put Mr Littler’s concerns to rest? It looks as though, since the present SNP administration has no plans for any referendum or any move to independence in the foreseeable future he would easily qualify for residential qualification! Personally – allowing for the intervention of unforeseen events – I don’t think I will be around to witness Scotland’s independence. He will have a better chance of voting in an independent Scotland than I will.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. EU nationals didn’t get to vote in the Brexit referendum so why should rUk, international or EU nationals get a say on a plebiscite to decide the right of Scots to self determination. The modern concept of Scots is multi inclusive and is not based on a narrow interpretation of ethnicity so its difficult to see how any ethnic group is specifically disenfranchised but there has to be a degree of eligibility set to avoid ephemeral elements having a vote.

      Liked by 7 people

  15. That was a well written and well thought out piece but the problem as I see it is that whenever we hear of English people moving to Scotland such as Mr Littler we only ever hear of the cuddly ones who fall in love with Scotland and Scottish values and support independence,

    We never seem to hear anything from one of the majority who quite understandably would never vote for Scottish independence because they’re English and by extension British, so perhaps instead of a response from Alf Baird a response from one of the vast majority of English folk who dont share Mr Littlers view of Scottishness and voted to deny us our independence in the interests of mother England would be more useful

    Liked by 10 people

  16. With all due respect to Mr Littler, I don’t believe that any other nationality, than an Englishman. would have the gall to make the argument for continuing the deeply flawed and anti-democratic argument that he has submitted. Four years in a new country and he is trying to tell us that we are basically ‘blood and soil’ racists for not wanting to allow British ‘IDENTIFIERS’ from overwhelming our democratic right to govern our own sovereign nation. I would not dream of doing so if I lived anywhere else. If England wanted Independence from Scotland I would abstain, if I was resident there for anything less than 10 x years, as I would see that as an English prerogative. I might then apply for dual nationality.

    The reason i have put identifiers in italics is because, on other blogs, I have had the usual emotional reasoning responses about ‘race’ being the motive to bring in strict residency rules for any Referendum. We have the evidence that anecdotally that many guessed was true, that the English, who make up the vast bulk of incomers, are 70+% against Independence. They proved it in 2014, and unlike many EU people did not abstain on the basis that it was for Scots only. Unlike most immigrants, they are wealthier per head than the Scots and have higher level jobs, because of the UK wide advertising and I believe, tacit negative policies of non-recruitment of non anglophone candidates. Other races: Polish, Asian, Irish, African and West Indian have moved here and consider themselves ‘ hyphenated ‘ Scots. The English remain the exception by and large.

    For your information Mr Littler, Scotland’s demographics have changed so much in 40 years as to make many rural areas and indeed better off parts of cities unrecognisable in the makeup of the population: rural towns dominated by retiree English and ‘posh’ parts of Edinburgh and Aberdeen also bought up unseen by RUK buyers outbidding locals. Our media, arts and public services are dominated by RUK and our young are forced to leave. Scotland has existed for 900 years as a recognised country and people. Our state was sold by traitors, not because the country was broke, but because of English imperial intimidation, spies and bribery of a ruling unelected elite. We have had universal suffrage for one hundred years. We have been outvoted by England in almost every General Election; cheated in the 1979 Referendum; almost without a doubt in the 2014 Referendum; and the coup de gras was the ultimate insult to be dragged out of the EU.

    We are in an existential crisis a people: no democracy; ‘led’ by liars both in Holyrood and Westminster. The former phony ‘nationalists’, who are incompetent, malicious, dissembling woke ideologues, who have abandoned the fight, if they ever were in it in the first place, and we are drifting into another perfect storm. That of a tsunami of ‘white flight’ of English middle class who are able to sell inflated homes for larger ‘nicer’ properties in predominantly white areas. The remote ways of working segue perfectly into this exodus. Look at France and Spain to see the consequences to their cultures, despite being very large countries. Whether they voted for or against Brexit is moot. If they did, they add to the residual ones already here. But, frankly I’m not interested in their motives. I look at their voting patterns in the areas they settle, and they do tend to cohere in places e.g. Edinburgh , Moray etc. We require the mechanisms that are recognised as legal, just and universally allowed to be implemented by the international community. This will prevent the clear possibility of being outvoted in our yearning to be a nation again. A settler population from a country that is ideologically opposed for most of its history to our existence cannot be allowed to over rule us by dint of numbers. The north of Ireland was the most strongest Irish identifying part of the island until the Tudor and Stuart monarchies decided to ‘plant’ Scots and Irish settlers. That benighted part, Ulster became butchered by gerrymandering losing 6 x counties and the native Irish remaining outvoted and disenfranchised even of their nationhood for a century. They are still in that situation.

    Like others, I do not want another Referendum. They will always be interfered with by the English State. We do not require one. We should apply directly to the UN as Prof . Baird and Craig Murray have advised. A confirmatory vote may be required, but at that stage the Scottish populace will have had unencumbered access to the reality of our status, not the deliberate obfuscation that we endure daily from the English media.

    Liked by 12 people

  17. If those settling in Scotland truly had Scotland’s best interests at heart and truly believed in Scotland’s right to self determination they would and should be willing to do what it takes to achieve that. If that means accepting the change in franchise (in line with all “NORMAL” countries) then so be it. What people are failing to appreciate is that if migration from the rest of the UK continues at present rates, or grows because of Brexit (which does not necessarily mean that those fleeing support Scottish independence as many see Scotland as an extension/possession of Greater England) that Scot’s will be a minority in their own country. What are the chances then of achieving independence? Why is it that others always feel angered, threatened or offended by Scottish independence? Do you want to know how powerlessness feels, a country that has not voted Tory since 1955 keeps get Tory government and British culture and values forced upon it. Imagine living in a country where the mews media, TV and radio is that of another country and culture. Imagine living in a country where flying your national flag is frowned upon and your neighbouring countries government demands that the “Union Flag” be flown from all public buildings and splashed across all food packaging. If you don’t see it and it doesn’t register that that as colonialism then you are not seeing Scotland as a Scot that wants its self determination. Scots see the ancient country of Scotland and its constitutional rights as innate. It shouldn’t be a political football, a slogan or an escape for others. It should just be the NORM. An independent Scotland doesn’t mean that people won’t be welcome from all corners of the world. However, they will have to appreciate that Scotland has its own unique culture and languages but it is most certainly not “British”. Ask yourself if you truly support Scotland’s right to self determination, what are you willing to do to achieve it? Arguing over a franchise that has cost Scotland the first referendum could bring into question those motives.

    Liked by 11 people

  18. Stuart: Blut und Boden (blood and soil) is usually applied to the Nazi ideology, but listen to the song accompanying ‘Dad’s Army’ and you could be forgiven for wondering if it didn’t apply equally to England. As for ethnic cleansing, you need only to think of Diego Garcia, a particularly filthy form of ethnic cleansing by the British on behalf of the Americans. Then, of course, there were the Tasmanian Aboriginals, totally exterminated by the British in an act of genocide which wiped their race off the face of the Earth. Methinks Mr Littler doth protest too much.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I thought the quote was Alasdair Grey.

      Alexander Gray was a former public school educated ( Dundee High School ) propagandist who worked for the British state. I see little in his origins to suggest he would have looked beyond the inclusiveness of being British and would have been no friend to the current debate for secession. I stand to be corrected.

      Liked by 3 people

  19. Meanwhile as we speak more and more people from England are settling in Scotland. I believe the vast majority of them will have very little knowledge of Scotland’s history or Scotland’s political discourse. I also believe the vast majority of them will vote No in any future independence referendum.

    Time is running out for Scotland. It’s now or never for a peaceful end to the union with England.

    What worries me most of all, however, is the deliberate obfuscation by supposedly pro-indy politicians.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. In my village which is Pictish in origin I would say 25 percent are English born and over the past 5 years 70 percent of the houses have been sold to English born.

      On an individual basis most are really nice, you have the odd few who object to this planning application or the next and those who think they bring civilisation by planting a few tulips along the road verge and joing the village committee, but to a man most are completely anti Scottish right to self determination and see it as an affront to them personally for advocating such.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. Your village sounds like many a Highland community now-a-days. Young local people just can’t pay the inflated house prices. Unless a relative wills them a house they’re forced to leave.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Every rural area in Scotland is the same, Mbiyd. 2014 should have been the prompt that something needed to be done, but virtue-signalling has been made into an art form these days. Alf Baird’s pieces are really provoking debate, and that debate is what has been sorely laking for the past seven years. The depth of anger in many Scots is reaching a tipping point, and the SNP needs to beware of that, just as many rUK people need to know that we are not a pushover. All it takes is a bit of give and take and respect for others.

        Liked by 6 people

  20. If you are not born and live in Scotland you do not get a say in anything. End Of. I wonder what kind of place/ area Mr Littler lives. These people know full well that they are displacing the local people and don’t give a shit. Having fucked up their own little England they wish to escape come to Scotland and start the same old shit here.

    I remember some years ago, my children attending a rural primary school in an area that had a large influx of refugees from England. My children were being called Scottish bastards by recently arrived English primary school kids, Primary schools kids ffs who told then to say that.

    I do not want to hear about another indy ref. I do not want to hear any Scottish politician begging a foreign country for permission to go our own way. None of this section 30 shit, and if Alba as much as hints at a section 30 the.y can go hang.

    I am at my wits end with the SNP shenanigans. I have absolutely had it, sick of it, efin sick to my back teeth.

    The SNP the Scottish nasty party

    Liked by 8 people

  21. Mr Littler, to my mind, has missed the point(s) by a wide margin and displays a level of selfish entitlement that isn’t very pleasant (‘I’ve decided I want to live here, so I want what everyone else has got’).

    The points Alf was making regarding the franchise, as I understood it, was not to try to ‘cheat’ the system and exclude people who are most likely to vote no, but to LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD, as all other normal countries do, to ensure that those voting really do have an investment in the country and its future.

    What about my family members that have left because they need to find work in fields not available to them in Scotland – but would return in a heartbeat if they COULD get work here? They do not get to vote, but I’d suggest that category of person has a greater interest in Scotland and a healthy economic future than people who ‘own property here and PLAN to stay’.

    How do you test for these things though – you can’t – so you need to formulate a franchise that’s most likely to capture the nearest approximation. And I believe Alf Baird’s proposals are reasonable. (And, let’s face it, anyone that’s already left the country for work and/or better weather, isn’t really THAT dedicated).

    The original residency franchise seemed reasonable to me early in the 2014 campaign – until I realised that meant holiday makers and temporary workers! We are already priced out of buying or renting our own homes because of those who don’t live here but own property, but they’re allowed to vote, but my diaspora family members weren’t?! THAT is NOT a fair system.

    Anyone that really does want what’s best for Scotland will believe in democracy, and will realise it can only be achieved by ensuring the choice is made fairly. A population-wide system cannot take into consideration how each individual FEELS, about their own decisions or circumstances, and so each individual SHOULD accept that it may be necessary to exclude them based on a general approach to their circumstance.

    It’s not a selection based on how dedicated each person FEELS about independence for Scotland. How you FEEL could change tomorrow. It’s if you are born into the culture and if you have the fortitude to live in Scotland (I’d say a minimum of 20 years, myself) – moving here for some imaginary economic benefit then wanting to decide our future after a couple of years is really not on. It’s not their, or Mr Littler’s, decision to make.

    That would be like the Scottish Government opening up a consultation on Scottish legislative matters to the world! …. Oh.

    Liked by 7 people

  22. Prior-to the Catalan referendum I had a discussion with a Spanish lady at a social event on this subject. I put forward my view that as a retired person had I moved to Catalonia I would not vote in their referendum as it was no business of mine. I had moved there to enjoy/ accept the benefits of living there,not to change them.However If I had moved to Catalonia with a young family I would expect my,by then,adult children to vote in the Catalonia referendum.

    I

    Liked by 6 people

  23. Alf Bairds analysis is fundementally correct & sound in its proposition. Scotland at its core belongs to those who are born here of which many hundreds of thousands are resident abroad because of the lack of opportunity in their own land. You can call it blood and soil if you like but ask an Englishman the same question. It does not matter how we vote in this so called democracy, The UK elections are rigged in England’s favour and they call hat democracry.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Alf Bairds analysis is fundementally correct & sound in its proposition. Scotland at its core

    belongs to those who are born here of which many hundreds of thousands are resident
    abroad because of the lack of opportunity in their own land. You can call it blood and soil if
    you like but ask an Englishman the same question. It does not matter how we vote in this so
    called democracy, The UK elections are rigged in England’s favour and they call that
    I would like to add a modern parallel which is but a shadow of the highland clearances is the purchase of property by non Scots which suddenly appear on Air BNB and who undercut those small hotels and guest houses which have been around for many years. I repeat what has been said before. This is the modern version of the highland clearances and in King Edwards 1 comments in Braveheart. If we can’t get them out we will breed them out.

    Liked by 6 people

  25. Would the posters who state that Scots are becoming a minority in our own country advocate a stop to immigration? A ban on English immigrants? – still wouldn’t stop us becoming a minority if other immigrants were allowed. Deportation of English immigrants? If we rejoined the EU we would have no control over our borders.

    Like

  26. I agree and endorse most of the comments upthread , many of the comments I myself have made on various blogs, however Lochside and Alan McHarg strike at the very heart of the grievance , Fishy Wullie also makes a very pertinent point about hearing from the majority of English folk who dont share Mr Littlers view of Scottishness

    Many people say this issue is divisive , is it divisive when the UN rules and regulations on franchises are adopted elsewhere or is it only divisive when Scots want to adopt those rules , and like others I don’t want a referendum I want plebiscite elections to determine Scotland’s future and I want them ASAP before that route is untenable due to the volume of incomers which may have serious repercussions for the SNP’s feeling of superiority and entitlement

    Liked by 6 people

  27. I’ve already scrapped two replies to Vince Littler’s piece, many of my points have been well covered by others, above, in any case.The basic premise of my scrapped replies was: You’re either against colonization, or your for colonization. There is no half-way-house on the matter. English people with only a hazy notion of what it means to be a coloniser, have a lot of educational background to cover and should begin immediately, as should the many Scots who fail to fully appreciate the factual nature of their colonial subjugation, of which the present franchise is a particularly egregious example.

    For those might wish to hurl the slanderous “blood and soil” epithet my way—don’t waste your time! Both my son-in-law and daughter-in-law are English and I deeply regard both of them.

    Liked by 7 people

  28. So I expect we can all understand ‘No Taxation Without Representation’, the protest by American colonists* against distant management from London. I’d like to suggest ‘No Representation Without Taxation’ meaning those registered elsewhere for income tax shouldn’t have a vote in more local matters.

    *Were the views of the Native population ever considered?

    Liked by 4 people

  29. We didn’t lose in 2014 because some English people voted NO. We lost because we had a silly answer on the currency / economy issue that got shot down in flames by London. There are swings and roundabouts to all this where were you born / how long have you been here, etc stuff. I am Manx and always will be despite living in Scotland since 1984. I have been an SNP member since 1988. My wife is German, teaches Gaelic and is also YES, but still happy to be German. You might remove some NO voting English, but you may well remove almost as many YES voting EU nationals. I am with Mr Littler that those genuinely resident in Scotland long enough to get on the voters roll should be eligible. I am totally in favour of banning anyone trying to e.g. use a holiday home so they can vote NO. Much more important than any of that is getting proper answers, so ‘What about the currency? – Answer: Our own ASAP, ‘What about the EU?’ – Answer: Join EFTA / EEA right away. Have a referendum on whether to apply to the EU. Minimum time to join the EU would be around four years after Independence Day. There are issues with the EU, e.g. fishing, 5% VAT on food, books, etc. ‘What about the border with rUK?’ – Answer – will be the same as between rUK and Northern Ireland.

    Like

  30. Tim I think you are being facetious when you say

    “We lost because we had a silly answer on the currency / economy issue that got shot down in flames by London.”

    The voting figures prove otherwise , your assertion is then that if we or Alex Salmond had got the currency issue tied down the 72% of new Scots would have voted yes

    I personally was enraged that AS had allowed Darling and others to spout their tosh without ripping them a new one and showing them up for the duplicitous liars they were but there is NO proof that had AS done that it would have convinced new Scots to vote yes,

    It is proven that irrespective of AS inability to call these charlatans out for their lies Scots born voters STILL voted 52.3% FOR independence

    I thank you and your wife for your support and dedication to Scotland and the independence movement BUT it still doesn’t alter the FACT that 72% of incomers voted AGAINST independence

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I seem to remember reading somewhere that a substantial majority of older people voted against Inde, too. If that memory is right, are you going to deny their right to vote?

      Pensions was one of the issues used or abused, or so I recall from the time.

      Either way, I’m out of here.

      Like

      1. I think you are being equally facetious , no one mentioned the elderly and for your information I am 70 and my wife is 66 today , we both voted YES as did most of our families lots of them elderly , we also traveled and participated in most of the indy marches , so your attempts to smear and demonise the discussion is wasted

        The point is incomers have not faced and had to deal with the subjugation and denigration of our country , nation and culture as the indigenous people throughout our history , admittedly a fair portion of that denigration and subjugation has been inflicted on us by our own treasonous countrymen but that is not the point , as I pointed out 52.3% of our fellow countrymen voted FOR independence but that vote for YES was negated by the 72% of incomers voting against OUR wishes

        Why do the world and their grannys get outraged and demonic when anyone DARES to criticise Maoris , Aborigines , First Nation Americans , First Nation Canadians , Inuit’s or ANY other indigenous people asserting their rights but it is okay to call Scots , Racist , Natzi ,Fascist , Blood and Soil Nationalists and any other slurs and epithets when they decide to speak up for themselves

        Liked by 2 people

  31. On a different tack altogether can I observe, as most others will now be observing, test food, fuel and product shortages are now becoming apparent and quite alarming.

    Yes the supermarkets are now showing empty food shelves bereft particularly fruit, vegetables and other such products. But I’m noticing too fuel stations having diesel fuel pumps shut off due to lack of fuel with local stations having often anything up to six out of eight diesel pumps closed off.

    And in industry, especially the construction industry there are now major issues with material shortages.

    The UK Government is furiously peddling the line that it’s the Track and Trace Pingdemic that is the cause of whstbis now a major U.K. product shortage. Indeed, only yesterday a UK Minister was on air saying they had the army on standby to help.

    Quite what this buffoonery from a UK minister will do to reassure people that the army can restore fruit and veg, dispense fuel, and redress shortages in imported construction industry materials I don’t know. Or maybe as a colonial I should just swallow the pap. Nothing to do with Brexit you realise.

    And as for Sturgeon ( variously the save us from Brexit, save us from Covid, restore us to economic nirvana fame and claim ) the cat seems to have got her and her Viichy band’s tongues on the shortages now to clearly evident around us.

    So what’s she gonna do ……………yep I’d like to hear her on that.

    Liked by 1 person

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