Lessons in Democracy Part 3 (The Twilight Zone)

In this third, final and a little lengthy article, I want to lay out how I think the Scottish government should proceed to secure a new independence referendum and other possible outcomes. Firstly, we need to look at why the Scottish government has been pursuing the Section 30 route to a referendum. The reason is simple. Legitimacy and recognition. We need a route that will be recognised internationally, world wide. A referendum after a S30 order ensures that recognition and it ensures the cooperation of the newly independent Former United Kingdom (FUK for short).

I understand that many people rail against a referendum route that is effectively the choice of the UK, but the fact is the S30 route exists, it has been used before, it works and it will be recognised by all. In the end a S30 may not happen and we will have to look at other ways to proceed. That’s the Twilight Zone and we’ll enter it a little later in this article.

With the Covid19 epidemic continuing to rage it looks likely now that no progress will be made until the May elections. Many are imploring the SNP to act now before Brexit but it isn’t going to happen and if I was in the SNPs shoes I’d wait as well. No course of action, or inaction if you prefer, is without risk of course but there are advantages to waiting.

Brexit, and it looks like either a no deal Brexit or a last minute crap deal Brexit, is going to negatively impact the country, further fuelling discontent and increasing support for independence. If the SNP maintains the support currently reflected by the opinion polls they are going to be back in government quite possibly as a majority government. This will trigger a fresh vote for a referendum in the Scottish parliament and a demand for a S30 order. The SNP rationale is that the democratic and political pressure on the Tories will be so great that they will concede the S30. For reasons covered in the earlier articles that’s not likely to happen.

So if that scenario comes to pass what will the SNP do? Well I don’t know and I’m not at all sure they do, so here’s what I would do. If you have exhausted all the political and constitutional routes, and you have, the next step has to be the courts. To me there is an obvious route but I have never, ever heard it suggested. What I believe we should be doing is challenging the UK government in court over the refusal to grant a S30 order. It is clearly undemocratic, I believe unconstitutional and therefore unlawful.

I’m aware that some believe we should just organise a referendum without a S30 and that Martin Keatings is currently prosecuting a case in the courts to establish that Scotland has the legal right to hold a referendum without Westminsters consent. I hope he succeeds but even if he does it doesn’t guarantee Westminster would recognise the result.

If we win a court case forcing the UK government to sign a S30 order the UK has to recognise it and the rest of the world will follow. You may say of course that it is the UK gov that has the power to grant a S30 and you’d be right. But what they don’t have is the right to abuse that power and ignore the will of parliament, in this case the Scottish parliament.

In very recent times both the current and previous Conservative governments have found themselves in the Supreme Court precisely because they abused power for their own political ends and tried to cut parliament out of the process. That’s a tricky policy in a parliamentary democracy. Both these cases were Brexit related. Theresa May wanted to use the ancient and archaic power of the Royal Prerogative to ensure Brexit was dealt with by Cabinet and the Westminster parliament would not have a say. Boris Johnson wanted to prorogue the Westminster parliament. In other words to discontinue the parliamentary session. He wanted to do this to severely limit parliaments opportunities to debate Brexit. Both May and Johnson lost in the Supreme Court because they abused their power for their own political gain.

It is important to be clear here. No one disputed that they didn’t have these powers, only that they had misused them.

So what is different about the UK gov refusal to grant a S30? Nothing, except it is actually worse than the two cases cited above. Why? Because the Scottish parliament has already voted for a referendum. Debate hasn’t been prevented as in Westminster’s two Brexit examples. The Scottish parliament has had a debate and made a decision. That decision has been effectively overturned by the Prime Minister. Just as in the two Westminster parliament cases the argument isn’t whether the UK gov has the power to grant a S30 order, it is that that power has been abused.

Clearly the UK gov decision is undemocratic because the Scottish parliament has voted in favour of a referendum. It is unconstitutional for the same reason. The UK has no written constitution. The constitution is formed by a body of law and precedent dating back centuries. That precedent completely backs the Scottish government request for a S30. The position is exactly the same as 2014. Once again the Scottish people have elected a government committed to an independence referendum. Once again the Scottish parliament has voted in favour of a referendum. But unlike 2014 when the UK gov recognised the democratic mandate provided by the Scottish parliament and passed the S30 order, they are refusing to do so this time.

As we discussed in part 2 of this article the UK gov has no legitimate reason of any kind to refuse the S30. They are doing so for their own political reasons, i.e. they are afraid they will lose. The democratic mandate could not be clearer, the constitutional precedent is also absolutely clear. The UK governments motives are purely for political advantage. Surely that must be as illegal as their motives in the two Brexit cases where the Supreme Court ruled against them.

Immediately after the May Scottish election and assuming a majority indy supporting parliament, the Scottish government should demand a Section 30 order. If Westminster refuses then the Scottish gov is faced with the choice of either doing nothing again or taking the UK gov to court. If it does nothing the SNP is finished. That may seem a bold statement but the purpose of the SNP is to gain Scottish independence and if they don’t pursue it a new party will appear to take their place. Witness the rise of the Brexit party from nothing to win the European elections. Let’s hope the SNP are bright enough to realise that. They should of course go to court and I’ve laid out what I think they should do. They may have a different/better idea, we’ll see.

So what if the court finds against the Scottish government. I don’t think they will but what if they do? What if Westminster can hold up a referendum until the 12th of never? Welcome to the Twilight Zone. We now have a constitutional crisis of a magnitude unprecedented in British constitutional history.

If there is no political/democratic/constitutional/ legal route to independence then the United Kingdom is not a union of nations & countries. It is an English colonial structure and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the colonies. It means the 1706 Treaty of Union was/is a sham. It was, as has been argued by others before, merely a device for England to absorb Scotland.

In these circumstances all political, constitutional and legal routes within the UK framework have been exhausted. So where do we go from that point? The possibilites are endless and we could speculate all day. But one thing remains vital, international recognition. The UN Charter guarantees the right to self determination. But whatever the vagaries of international law the reality is that political recognition is what is required .

That means the Scottish government must, if it is not already doing so, talk to as many countries as possible and crucially the EU to explain to them our constitutional set up and how it has been abused, to emphasise that Scotland has followed it meticulously and to gain their support for unilateral action. That action should include the Scottish parliament rescinding the Act of Union and authorising an independence referendum with international oversight.

Let’s hope democratic sense, or the law, prevails and a Section 32 referendum can take place. If it can’t the stars are well aligned for Scotland. With the UK finally out of the EU at the end of the transition period at the end of January 2021, the EU which must be mightly pissed off with the UK and the Tories in particular by now, will be much freer to express support for an independent Scotland.

In the US President Biden will be in office. Biden is also no lover of the UK and fiercly opposed to the UK’s internal market bill which he sees as a threat to the Good Friday Agreement. He, like the Scottish gov, has close ties to Ireland and Irelands influence with the US could be very helpful in obtaining US recognition for Scottish independence.

With the likelihood of action outside of S30 now quite likely the Scottish gov should be working overtime in establishing international links.

So all to play for even with the niggling delay for 6mths. The SNP have to step up and get it done and court is the place to start. They need to put the UK gov under the Section 30 cosh. Now, even more than in 2014, the whole wellbeing and future of our country is at stake.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lessons in Democracy Part 2 (Mandate? what mandate?)

What kind of Scotland do you want? Two faces for the future. Take your pick.

The second part of this article is a brief recap of what constitutes a mandate for a referendum and the legitimacy, or lack of it, in the refusal of the UK government to grant a S30 order.

It’s ridiculous that it’s actually necessary go over something which should be so basic but I genuinely believe that many people on both sides of the debate don’t understand or have lost sight of how parliamentary democracy is supposed to work. Of course it is in the interest of the unionists to try and create as much confusion as possible but the independence side isn’t helping by confusing the issue themselves instead of giving a consistent and clear message.

So we’ve heard implausible excuses by the barrowload from the unionists. The SNP don’t have a majority, the SNP have less than 50% of the vote, they lost seats in the 2017 UK general election, the people are sick of referendums etc, etc, etc,.

The independence side are just as confused. Every time they win an election a mandate for independence is claimed whether it is a UK general election, a Scottish general election or an EU election. I’ve lost count of the number of mandates we are supposed to have.

So let’s clarify. The concept of parliamentary democracy couldn’t be simpler. We, the electorate, elect people to represent us in parliament. Those representatives debate the issues of the day. Much of this will be a programme for government set out by the governing party and the rest will be matters brought forward by opposition parties, individual members and business that arises during the term of the parliament e.g. Covid 19 related matters. The members of the parliament vote on the matters brought forward. If a majority vote in favour of a measure it is adopted, if a majority don’t vote in favour it isn’t. That’s it, end of, done. Couldn’t be simpler. This concept applies whether it is Westminster, Holyrood, the Senedd or Stormont.

All else is garbage. Doesn’t matter how many seats a party or a government has, what percentage of the vote they got, what opinion polls say or any of the other weird and wonderful excuses unionists come up with. All that matters is that the Scottish parliament voted for an independence referendum. Similarly it doesn’t matter whether the SNP have a majority of seats in Westminster or Holyrood or won the EU elections or independence is at 56% in the polls. All that matters is that the Scottish parliament voted for an independence referendum.

The independence side is almost as bad talking about multiple mandates instead of emphasising the vote in the Scottish parliament which is the real mandate. Every time some unionist casts doubt on the authenticity of the Scottish governments mandate the answer should always be, the Scottish parliament voted for it. That is what constitutes a democratic mandate, nothing else. They also seem to be falling into this, if the SNP win a majority that is a mandate for a second referendum, rhetoric. No it isn’t and they are going to look pretty stupid if the SNP fail to win a majority of seats but there is a majority of independence supporting MSPs.

So what are the reasons for the UK government refusing a Section 30 order and are they legitimate. The fact is the only reason the Tories have for refusing a S30 is the one they don’t state, they are scared of losing the referendum. That’s it, that’s the reason. If they were confident of winning they’d sign a S30 tomorrow.

The letter from Johnson to the First Minister is so short we can dismiss the salient points right here:

‘You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a ‘once in a generation’ vote.’

That’s a straight out lie. No such promises were ever made. In any case Salmond & Sturgeon could have sworn this on a stack of bibles and it wouldn’t make any difference. It is the choice of the Scottish people whether to have a referendum or not.

The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.

Like we said, a lie. Consequent democratic decisions by the Scottish people apparently don’t count.

Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.

Just wittering rubbish, not to mention completely immaterial to the question. The performance of the Scottish government good or bad has nothing to do with a referendum.

And that’s it. That is the UK government case for refusing a S30 order. Not a single substantive reason, not a single substantive argument. The UK government has no legitimate case for refusing the Section 30 order.

In the first part of this article we looked at how the Covid crisis had come to the rescue for the SNP/Scot gov when they had completely failed to take a new course of action after Boris Johnson refused a Section 30 order in the aftermath of the 2019 UK general election.

Covid 19 brought to an end any meaningful campaigning. At the same time the differing styles and success in handling the pandemic contrasted the leadership qualities of Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson and the competence of the Scottish Government compared to the shambles of the UKs Tory government. Alongside that the realities of Brexit and the UK governments devolution destroying tactics also raised the ire of Scots.

The result has been a growth in support for both independence and the SNP at a time when things could have got tricky for the SNP and threatened the chance of an independence majority at the next Scottish general election in May 2021.

In this 2nd article we’ve confirmed the legitimacy of the SNP/Scottish gov. claim for a mandate for a second independence referendum. We’ve also established that the UK government has no grounds to refuse it.

In the final part (part 3) of this article I’ll lay out the steps I think the Scottish government should now be pursuing and a likely timescale.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lessons in Democracy Part 1 (How Covid 19 saved the SNP)

HOLD! HOLD!

This is the first in a short series of 3 articles around the steps the Scottish government should be taking to ensure indyref2 happens, how things have developed over recent months and what I believe should happen now. Along the way I’m going to be reminding people of how parliamentary democracy works or at least how it should work. Going back to basics and trying to clear some of the unnecessary fog around procedure, mandates etc.

Part 1, how covid saved the SNP.  I’ve grown increasingly frustrated over recent months with the various ideas put forward for a Plan B for independence. At the same time I’ve been frustrated by the SNP/ScotGov complete inability to pursue Plan A.

Let’s recap a little. I believe the course the SNP had been pursuing up until the S30 request went in was the right one. Some people think they should have been moving faster and pursuing a different course or cutting corners but there was and is a process to follow. The process is important and I’ll be referring back to it. The SNP had/has a mandate from the Scottish Parliament, to seek a S30 order and an independence referendum.

The First Minister was right to wait until the Brexit fog lifted and the possibility of a UK general election being called was known. It simply was not plausible to hold an independence referendum until the mists cleared on Brexit and the general election had been held. Brexit is still not settled as I write this, but we do know it is either going to be hard Brexit or no deal Brexit.  The anticipated UK general election duly arrived producing a clear majority for the Tories and an increase from 35 to 48 seats in Scotland for the SNP. Buoyed by this excellent UK General Election result the First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister requesting discussions on a S30 order passing power to the Scottish parliament to legislate for a referendum. This was the culmination of Plan A. The response was predictable, BoJo says no.

The Prime Ministers response both pathetic and insulting is reproduced below.

BoJo refusal

A half page, six short paragraphs, reply to a 33 page document from the First Minister. The letter contains a series of lies and makes no constitutional, democratic or legal case for refusing the S30. That’s because there is no case.

Along with an expectant nation I was eager to hear the SNP response. The constitutional process was exhausted, what next? The answer was…nothing. It was unbelievable that with all the months to prepare for this totally predictable moment the SNP/ScotGov had no plan to deal with it.

This was a massive failure on behalf of the SNP/ScotGov. Clearly they had no idea what to do next having reached the end of the political road. Their lack of response has emboldened the UK government. They know they can simply keep saying no with impunity because there will be no come back.

Instead of definitive action it seems Plan B is to try and build support for independence (without actually campaigning for it) and hope that events will grow polling numbers in favour of independence. The belief appears to be that as support rises the UK gov will find the pressure to grant a S20 overwhelming. The idea that this strategy coupled with a win for the SNP and indy supporting parties at the May 2021 Scottish elections will somehow bring democratic enlightenment to the Conservative and Unionist party is clutching at the most meagre of straws.

There is no incentive for the Tories to grant a S30. There is no political fallout they have to worry about. They don’t rely on Scottish votes or seats. The only thing Boris Johnston is afraid of politically is the Conservative party itself. He, and various government ministers have already made it clear a S30 won’t be granted even if the SNP win an overall majority at the election. Normally one would take the cast iron guarantees of Bojo and his fellow clowns with a pinch of salt but in this case there is no reason to doubt them. There is far more danger in granting a referendum than in denying one. Why? because they could lose and they know it, which is of course the actual reason, in amongst all the nonsensical excuses, that they won’t grant one in the first place.

Pre Covid 19 this put the SNP in a really bad place politically in the run up to the 2021 election. There is a mistaken belief in the SNP that the SNP are indy, they are not. It is as big a mistake as unionist politicians and press believing the SNP is the Yes movement, it isn’t. Many people vote for the SNP because they want independence not because they are in love with the SNP. There was a huge amount of anger and frustration when the SNP failed to follow up on the S30 refusal. A lot of that anger and frustration still exists as most people still don’t know what plan B is. I don’t mind the SNP playing their cards close to their chest if they actually have some cards to play. There was a real danger that the SNP could lose seats at the election through activist and voter apathy. They need people out knocking on doors and they need people to vote for them. There was a distinct chance they could have lost the indy majority. Any possibility of the unionist parties forming a government would have been seized on. Don’t think the idea of a Tory/Labour/LibDem coalition is fanciful. They’ve done it at local government level to keep the SNP out when the SNP were the largest party and they would do it at national level to put the SNP out of power and halt independence in its tracks.

So thank God for Covid. The pandemic together with the growing realisation of what Brexit means for devolution and the economy have saved the SNP bacon. The incompetence, corruption and dishonesty which the Prime Minister’s and UK government’s shambolic handling of the crisis has highlighted, together with the First Ministers empathetic and assured touch, has had a dramatic effect on the First Minister’s popularity, the SNP’s poll ratings and support for independence.

The SNP are odds on to win the election, quite probably with a majority. Indy has been the preferred choice of the Scottish people 14 polls in a row. So what now? What happens if the SNP or independence parties have a majority next May?  We’ll explore that in part 2.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Labour’s Death Throes

Zombie party leader

Zombie party leader

The Labour party have kicked off the Spring conference season. Perhaps Kez or Corbyn will pack the place out but so far the conference looks sparsely attended compared to conferences of yesteryear. One of the reasons for that may be that nowhere on Labour’s conference site could I find out where the conference was actually being held. Though I suspect it wouldn’t have made much difference. It’s in Perth by the way.

The Labour party, North Britain branch is in dire straits. Judging by their confusing budget reports (no one knows quite how they are funded) the amount of cash they raise from the membership suggests a serious decline in numbers. The former party of government has slipped to 3rd largest party at Holyrood and from a total of 41 members out of 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster they collapsed in a single election to a single member. Their polling for the upcoming local government elections is hovering around 15%. Even with the vagaries of the local government voting system it looks like Labour will lose control of their West Central Scotland powerbase. They may hang on by doing deals with the Tories and Lib Dems as they did at the last LG elections to maintain control in a number of areas even though they were overtaken as the largest party by the SNP. Further confirmation that effectively in Scotland there are only two parties, the Independence Party and the Unionist Party. They just have different branches.

I shed no tears for Labour. They have been a corrupt leech on Scotland for 60yrs. Even now they are embroiled in corruption scandals in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. It was joy to be rid of the collection of chancers, careerists, anti Scots, liars and scumbags that represented Labour in Westminster.

Hemorrhaging support on the left to the SNP and on the right to the Tories, Labour has an identity crisis. What do they stand for? Well conference has answered that. They stand for the Union and federalism. Both will kill them. They are standing on the wrong side of the argument and the wrong side of history.

On the Union they hope to win back support from the Tories but the Tories are full on, dyed in the wool, always have been, no surrender unionists. Labour can’t compete with that, nor should they want to. They had a chance before the 2014 referendum to carve out a niche supporting full fiscal autonomy stopping short of independence. This was a position urged on them by a number of leading figures including former First Minister Henry McLeish. Instead they allowed themselves to be used as front men and fall guys by the Tories. The result is the terrible position they find themselves in today.

Not only is their position not credible they have pursued it with the kind of rhetoric which displays the complete lack of self awareness that is the hallmark of Labour. It’s a kind of Gordon Brown delusion, if we said it it’s true even if it is totally ludicrous.

Serial Idiot

Serial Idiot

Take Ian Murray MP. ‘Straight Talking, Honest Politics’, according to the caption on his platform dias. Labour’s sole surviving MP, courtesy of Tory tactical voting in Edinburgh had this to say, “I want to make it absolutely clear to both Nicola Sturgeon, and indeed to Ruth Davidson, the SNP has absolutely no mandate for another Scottish independence referendum. If they try to push one through, Scottish Labour will oppose it in the Scottish Parliament all the way” Another day this load of pish would have qualified Murray for our ever popular Moron of the Day series. Clearly the SNP election manifesto contained a provision to call a new referendum if there was a ‘material’ change in circumstances. A vote to leave the EU by the rest of the UK was given as a specific example. That is exactly what happened yet this clown claims the exact opposite. Do Labour simply not realise what fools they look when they spin theses lies? There is also a majority in the Scottish parliament for a referendum.

The second pillar of their new policy is Federalism. This is seriously flawed. They have adopted a century old Liberal policy which in those 100 plus years has gone exactly nowhere. To solve what they see as a Scottish ‘problem’ they want to impose a UK wide solution which the UK or certainly England isn’t interested in. If fedaralism/devolution was seen as a practical solution to governance in England it would have happened long ago. John Prescott’s half hearted attempt at devolution for Northern England in 2004 was roundly rejected by 78%-22%.

The fact is Scottish Labour is leaderless and rudderless. I have a certain sympathy for Kezia Dugdale but she volunteered for the gig and hasn’t shown much leadership or imagination. The senior members of Scottish Labour are air heads like James Kelly and no talent serial liars like Anas Sarwar and Jackie Baillie. They have however done the independence movement a favour. By sinking into the morass they have left the Tories as the potential leaders for Better Together2, that should be interesting.

Despite the continuing, unwarranted promotion by the BBC and MSM, the Labour party in Scotland is staring into the abyss. Barring a miracle in May Scottish Labour is condemned to a biblical period of wandering in the wilderness or outright extinction.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

tony-blair Unsurprisingly I suppose, Tony Blairs foray into the Brexit debate has been met with opprobrium from all sides, emphasising how completely he seems to have pissed off everyone across the political spectrum including his own party. His speech to Open Britain makes the case for a second EU referendum based on the first vote being made on incomplete and misleading information. On that he is undoubtedly correct but the chances of a second referendum are slim, as he himself acknowledges.

Commentators in the media and critics on social media laid into Blair citing his political record and the Iraq war as reasons to dismiss his speech without thought. Many also opined he was trying to rehabilitate himself or was making another bid for the EU presidency. All of which may be true. Interestingly a more concillatory tone was struck by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said, “Not his biggest fan, but there’s a quality of analysis & argument in Blair’s speech today that has been totally lacking from Labour to date.” Now I have to say I’m not his greatest fan either, in fact I think as little of him as most people and for the same reasons. Had I just read the MSM and social media comments or heard just the brief clips shown on the news I would have as quickly dismissed him as others did. How easy it is to make a snap decision on something based on others tweets or a newspaper column when we don’t know the full facts and context of a speech, argument, meeting etc.

However by chance I had sat down to have something to eat and had switched on the TV just as Blair was starting his speech. I watched it all. To paraphrase the First Minister there was a quality of analysis & argument in Blair’s speech that has been totally lacking from any other source. It was beyond doubt the best analysis I had heard or read on Brexit. Whatever one might think about Blair it showed he is head and shoulders above the Mays, Johnstons, Davies and Foxs of the Brexiteers both intellectually and politically. It was hard hitting and wide ranging in its analysis. There was barely anything I could disagree with. He very lucidly captured the madness of the current situation as well as the consequences of a hard Brexit. He placed Brexit in the much wider political, economic and social context of the UK’s future. He lambasted the attempts of the Brexiteers to close down discussion by telling the rest of us to shut up and accept the result. He also identified, as has everyone else to be fair, that it makes Scottish independence more likely.

All very interesting Ken you might say, but why are you telling us this? Well we know that the EU will play a big part and quite possibly a central role in Indyref2. We also know that a large number of Yes voters have said they will switch to No in ref2 as they don’t want to be in the EU. I don’t trust what information we have on numbers but it is undoubtedly a constituency we need to and can win back. It simply isn’t logical to favour remaining in the UK as opposed to independence coupled with EU membership. But there has been a great deal in politics in the last year that defies logic or even self interest.

My own pet theory is that people in Scotland are just like the rest of the UK and have been bombarded for decades by the right wing press and the wider MSM with anti EU stories on economics, bureaucracy and immigration. So it’s not surprising that there will be a proportion of the populace believes it. As I posted in my blog, https://mackisimul.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/in-out-round-about-a-guide-to-the-eu-referendum-for-the-independent-scot/, before the EU ref, there is a very Scottish dimension to the advantages of EU membership. We have to get those arguments across to those who are are sympathetic to independence or previous Yes voters. That’s why I encourage all indy campaigners to watch the video of Blair’s speech as there is much useful info and argument that can be gleaned to use in the upcoming independence campaign, whenever it arrives. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/watch-full-tony-blairs-dramatic-9837758.

So don’t shoot the messenger until you have listened to the message. You can always shoot him later.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Things Can Only Get Better……………..Maybe Not

Just a brief post today. Events are happening so fast it is hard to keep up and by the time I get round to placing a post things have moved on. When I say events I’m talking about the sort of issues that have emerged from the Tory party conference.

The party has definitely morphed into a right wing version of UKIP whilst its leader is trying to convince us she’s a socialist with her promises to protect workers and make the nasty capitalist bosses pay their taxes. However her underlings don’t seem to have gone all hug a hoody soft judging by their utterances. Foreign doctors are to be flung out of the country just as soon as we can train up enough English chaps to replace them. Companys are to be forced to publish how many foreigners they employ in order to name and shame them into being more patriotic and employing more Brits instead. 

It now seems certain that we are headed for a hard Brexit with the UK out of the single market. Dr Fox continues to exude confidence with the same certainty of a jumper from the top of a 26 floor building who says everything is going swimmingly, so far, as they pass the 13th floor. Even one of his own MPs has publicly described him as delusional. 

The Fraser of Allander institute has published a report today saying a hard Brexit will cost Scotland around 80,000 jobs. Four British chaps won Nobel prizes in Physics and Chemistry this week, three of whom were Scots (note to John Cleese, stick to the comedy son you clearly know SFA about the ‘half educated’ tenement Scots) and they are obviously very worried about future research funding. One of them even suggesting at this stage that young British scientists should be thinking of working abroad. 

Now none of these ‘events’ have actually happened yet at all and probably won’t for at least 2.5yrs. but the warning signs are all there and all the signs are bad. I just want to pick up on one point. As you know the great British economy is the 5th biggest in the world which is why the delusional Dr. Fox thinks the rest of the world will give us anything we ask for. Today as a direct consequence of Brexit the UK has slipped to 6th. The reason for this is the kind of measurement most often used by those wishing to talk up the UK is based on market exchange rates which means if your currency goes down the pan, like Sterling has, so does the value of your economy. In truth it is not a very sensible way to measure the size of your economy but the Tories, UK economists, UKIPers, Unionists etc., take your pick, do so because it is the measurement that makes the UK look the most important. The IMF prefer the purchasing power parity index which knocks the UK down to 9th. 

This brings us to another clown, our esteemed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Now many of us were amazed, shocked or otherwise befuddled at the choice of the Tories chief idiot for this particular role as he has a history of insulting just about every country on Earth at one time or another. And so far he hasn’t disappointed us. This week he informed the Tory party conference that Africa was a country, thereby confirming our suspicions that the vast sums spent on young Boris’s education may not have been the best investment of the Johnson family wealth. But it is what he said about the size of the UK economy that is really interesting here. He told us that the UK is the 5th ‘richest’ economy in the world. I’ll bet he believes that. The UK is actually the worlds 27th richest economy. And isn’t that what actually matters? After all the Indian economy is bigger than ours but would you really envy the average Indian his standard of living?

So even before Brexit actually happens we can see that the UK’s economy is slipping down the world rankings just at the very thought of the consequences. Nearly all the richest countries are small nations like Scotland.

So remember that the next time some Brit Nat, Unionist, Brexiter or other generally anti independence punter tries to convince you that Britain is indeed Great and Scotland is too small, too poor, you know the rest dear reader, to be uniquely unqualified to take its place in the pantheon of nations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moron Of The Day 9

Neil Findlay Left Wing Labour MSP

Neil Findlay Left Wing Labour MSP

Totally Misleading Photo

Totally Misleading Photo

Here we are again with the latest in our Moron of the Day feature. Today’s lucky recipient is Neil Findlay MSP (Labour). His inclusion marks a new departure in this series. He is the first Labour MP or MSP to feature in the series. Another departure is that I normally write these pieces in a ‘ gor blimey look at this twit’ kind of a spirit but today’s is written with real anger aimed both at Findlay and the Express newspaper group.

This is to do with a story in the Sunday version of this right wing arse wiper, it doesn’t deserve the soubriquet newspaper, headlined, ‘Scottish MPs Claim Almost £600,000 of Taxpayers’ Money In Luxury Flights’. The story alleges Scottish MPs, i.e. SNP MPs, are eschewing economy class travel for champagne swilling business class flights and greatly increasing the cost to the taxpayer. The story is total bollocks designed only to smear our MPs. The reality is that the cost of flights to the taxpayer has actually decreased in the last year. There are no airlines flying to London from Scottish airports that offer business class travel. The whole story is exposed and debunked by Wings over Scotland. You can read it here, http://wingsoverscotland.com/expressway-to-lietown/. Please do read it and if you have any friends or aquaintances that read this rag bring it to their attention as a prime example of the daily anti SNP, anti independence or simply anti Scots attacks which are a feature of the right wing press. NEVER, NEVER believe a word you read in the Express or the Mail. If they print that the Sun will rise tomorrow prepare yourself for Armageddon. Just to add to the bollocks you’ll notice that although the story is about MPs the picture is of Holyrood not Westminster, another subtle attempt to link their lies to Scotland. The luxury airplane seat by the way isn’t available on any internal flights between London and Scottish airports because the picture is of seating from an Emirates Airbus A830. Emirates don’t fly internally in the UK. But never let accuracy get in the way of a good anti SNP rant.

So now to Findlay. Findlay decided to link to this story and tweeted, ‘Looks like the party on expenses is in full flow – Mhairi Black tribune of the people loves ‘Business Class’. Why he decided to personalise the tweet with an attack on Mhairi Black I don’t know. But the point is this is, an avowedly left wing Labour MSP who stood for election as Scottish (or North Britain branch as it’s better known) leader believes that it is perfectly reasonable to peddle the lies of a right wing newspaper which wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire, simply to mount an attack on the hated SNP. It seems for a long time now the only policy of the Labour party in Scotland has been to oppose and denigrate the Scottish government at every turn, doing the Westminster government and right wing unionist press’s job for them. And that is moronic.

Anyone observing the ongoing fraternal suicide of the Labour party knows they are in deep shit. It seems to have reached the point now in Scotland where Labour is irredeemable. If the vagaries of the election system don’t contrive to save them from annihilation at next years council elections then Labour is finished. Shed no tears for it is the best thing that could happen to Scotland. For 50 years the Labour party has been the problem not the solution. To have got rid of Curran, Davidson, Alexander, Murphy et al is indeed joyous. The fact is the Labour party in Scotland is redundant, it serves no purpose. The SNP hold the centre left ground and are committed to preserving free tuition, universal benefits etc which Labour would now scrap rather than champion. The Greens are more left wing and if the various factions of the far left ever get their act together again they could regain representation at Holyrood. So the left is well catered for and the Tories cover the right. There is also UKIP of course should the nation ever lose its collective marbles. The Lib Dems? Yeah not worth typing about. So we have no use for a unionist, self loathing, cringeworthy embarrassment like Scottish Labour. And no use for hateful idiots like Neil Findlay.

England is a different story. Since the rise of Blairism the Labour and Conservative parties have morphed into each other creating only slightly different flavours of right wing neo liberalism. Much like the Democrats and Republicans in the US. With the Lib Dems dead there is no balance between different politics, ideas and philosophy. At least until now. Corbyn represents the last vestiges of the left wing of a Blairite party. The battle between the right wing parliamentary party and the left wing membership has been something of a car crash and a gift to the right wing press and media. If the right wing Tory/Labour factions triumph then England is well on the road to becoming as fractured a society and as unequal a society as the US. The upside for Scottish independence is the prospect of facing another decade of Tory rule is unlikely to appeal to any but the most diehard of Ruth Davidsons new followers making indy ever more likely.

In the meantime read the Express and the Mail etc. Nurture your wrath to keep it warm. Remember the morons days are numbered. Speaking of numbers if you aren’t spitting nails already may I remind you that you pay Moron of the Day Neil Findlay £60,685pa.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moron of The Day 8

Voila mon passeport
Here we are again with our occasional series, Moron of the Day. Now to be fair had I had the time over the last couple of months I could have written a couple of dozen of these so todays recipient was just unlucky enough to come across my radar at 10pm on a Tuesday evening when I could fit him in. He is a Conservative MP, indeed most of the people who have qualified for this award have been elected Conservatives. You may doubt me but I honestly don’t go looking for them they just fall in to my lap, so to speak. As a not very scientific poll it probably proves the Tories have more dickheads in their party than anyone else. Though to be fair if UKIP had more members they would certainly be rivalling them. UKIP do have David Coburn so I suppose that’s enough of a burden for anyone.

So what has Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, for it is he, done to come to MOTD (that’s Moron of the Day, not Match of the Day) attention? Unusual cove Mr Rosindell. Despite being the son of a school dinner lady, having a Comprehensive education and somewhat surprisingly making his first attempt to enter parliament by standing in Glasgow Provan (showing early signs of stupidity or bravery depending on your point of view) he is a full on, flag waving British Nationalist. He even makes his dog wear a Union flag waistcoat. He actually introduced a Union Flag bill in 2008 which said, and I quote, The Bill provides a formal definition of the composition of the Union Flag, stipulates that it is the official flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and includes a schedule containing a description of the flag and how it should be flown. Quite why we needed an act of parliament to confirm it was the UK flag and which way up it should fly I don’t know. He was also a director of the European Foundation. This is a think tank which in the great British tradition actually stands for the opposite of what it sounds like. So it is anti Europe just like the Ministry of Defence is actually the Ministry for War.

What brings him to our attention is that he may have gone a little over the top. The Sun apparently, at least the English edition at any rate, is starting a campaign to bring back the good old Blue British passport in the wake of Brexit (apparently it was dark blue because that was the cheapest colour to produce, so probably a Tory idea). Now I liked the old passport, it was more solid looking than the modern EU thingy and contained a message for Johnny foreigner that, Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs requires said Johnny to render me all assistance that I may require and to let me pass freely and unhindered…..or else. I’m sure that had them quaking in their boots. The only problem now is that Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is one Boris Johnston so they are more likely to fall about laughing. Interestingly something in my old passport that might make a comeback is the notes of the cash I took out of the country and what I brought back under the Exchange Control Act 1947. In 1976 I managed to enjoy two weeks in Greece for the princely sum of £160. That might be coming back too.

Now what is Mr Rosindell’s take on all this? “It’s a matter of identity. Having the pink European passports has been a humiliation.” Well that’s a bit strong seeing as the front of the passport sports a royal seal and the words, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, written boldly with European Union in smaller letters. Anyway I’m sure Mr Rosindell enters any continental port dressed head to foot in red, white and blue and whistling Rule Britannia so no one will be in any doubt as to his identity. Is having a European passport humiliating? I’ve been using the thing for donkeys years and have presented it to immigration officials from Los Angeles to Sydney and none of them have sniggered at the sight and I’ve yet to feel a twinge of embarrassment never mind humiliation. As to colour, it definitely has a burgundy cover and green pages. No doubt claiming it is pink is a subtle way of Mr Rosindell insinuating there is something unmanly about carrying one.

So there we have it, while the Pound sinks, investment drys up and Westminster wanders around in circles with nary a clue as to what the consequences of Brexit may be, you can sleep safe in your beds knowing Andrew Rosindell MP is straining every sinew to revive old Blighty’s glory and return the good old blue passport to you. May I once again remind loyal readers that you pay plonkers like this £74,962pa plus expenses.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In, Out, Round About? – A Guide to the EU Referendum for the Independent Scot

wp-1465995605295.jpg

Feeling confused? Don’t know which way to turn? Is the only flag you’re waving a white one? Fear not mackisimul’s guide to voting in the EU referendum is here to lead you into the light.

This ‘guide’ takes a particularly Scottish slant to the referendum because as in most things the view from Scotland, the reasons for voting Leave or Remain and the consequences of that vote are different for Scotland than for the UK as a whole. The first thing to recognise is that this referendum is at the behest of England and particularly the Conservative party. The fact is the Tories have been fighting among themselves over Europe for the last 40 years. Apart from the fruit loops of UKIP no one else seems greatly fashed. The Scottish parliament had a vote on the subject recently and only 8 out of the 129 MSP voted for leaving. It’s a private punch up but we are all invited. The unfortunate part is that we all are affected by the outcome.

I’m going to look at the main areas of the debate, if debate isn’t too polite a description for this unedifying rammy. The economy, immigration and democracy.

THE ECONOMY

The economic argument confuses more than any other. This is because if you asked 10 economists for an opinion you would get 11 different answers. So economic soothsaying is absolutely ripe for misdirection and misrepresentation. You will have noticed when both sides come out with a prediction or a set of ‘definitive’ figures they are immediately rubbished by the other side. This is fine because both sides are talking bollocks. This also highlights one of the main differences between this referendum and the Scottish independence referendum. The treasury et al produced reams of completely nonsensical figures and forecasts during the indy ref but the difference then was that the entire mainstream media was on the Unionists side and quite happy to repeat all the deceptions and lies over and over again. This time you have MSM on both sides, so while happy to print their own sides garbage they challenge the oppositions.

So forget all the figures from Gideon, a man who couldn’t accurately predict what colour of socks he will be wearing tomorrow never mind the state of the UK economy in 10years time, and his threats of emergency budgets. Not that he wouldn’t love an excuse to further slash public spending. He’d also love to put up taxes. Of course he comes across as a tax cutter but even dumb Gideon can read the figures. Despite apparently creating ‘000s of jobs income tax receipts are falling. This is because most of these jobs pay very little and aggressive increases in personal allowances and the higher rate tax band ain’t conducive to revenue collection. Anyway if there is a Brexit Osborne won’t be Chancellor any longer. More on that later.

So you can only consider the figures we do know and take a broad view of the likely consequences of a Leave vote. The fact is Scotland does rather well out of the EU. Scotland and England are net contributers to the EU budget whilst N Ireland and Wales are net beneficiaries. After taking into account what we get back from the EU Scotland pays less than £100m net per annum. So what do we get for our £100k? Research suggests EU membership stimulates some £7bn of benefit to the Scottish economy each year. This equates to about £2bn of revenue. In other words we gain 20 times our contribution.
Although Scotland represents only 8.5% of the UK population we get more than 17% of EU spending. We gain in areas such as infrastructure spending, agriculture subsidy, grants to our universities and research facilities. UK spending is predominately in London and the South East. For example those jobs the Tories claim to have created. 80% of the jobs created are in an area of the UK with only 15% of the population. Huge infrastructure spending like London Crossrail, the Olympics and soon HS2 all benefit the south even though we all pay for them. By contrast EU funding is aimed at the poorest regions within the EU. So EU spending provides, to a degree, a counterweight to UK government bias to the south. The Leavers claim if we kept all the money we send to the EU we could fund all our own spending. Frankly if you believe a Tory UK government is going to provide the level of funding to Scotland that the EU does you need your head examined.

Overseas investment, another area where Scotland does particularly well, will suffer if we leave the EU. Without access to the single market it is going to make more sense for exporting companies to set up in an EU country than Scotland or the UK as a whole.

The Leavers claim that the EU needs the UK more than the UK needs the EU, they sell more to us than we sell to them. This is delusional stuff. The EU is another 27 countries so combined it’s hardly surprising they sell more to us although it is also true that the UK is pretty hopeless at exporting. That is partly due to the economic mismanagement of the manufacturing sector as both Tory and Labour governments have become enthralled with the financial and consumer sectors to the extent that the UK economy is now some 65% service driven. The rest of the UK sells almost as much to Scotland, population 5.3m, as they do to the whole EU, population 450m. Only Cyprus and Ireland export more than 10% of their goods to the UK. To quote the National Institute of Economic and Social Research on the subject ‘we would become one of the EU’s largest export markets, even if not necessarily the largest. But we’d still be far less important to the EU than they are to us’.

The idea that we can say to the EU, look we’re leaving the club, we aren’t going to pay our dues anymore but we still want full use of all the facilities, is crazy. Apart from the economic realities pointed out by the NIESR the political reality is even more important. It would be politically impossible for the EU, even if it wanted to, to give free access to its markets, it would undermine the whole concept of the common market. Why would EU countries abide by the rules and pay their dues if a country outside the EU got free access? Can a trade deal be done? Of course it can and it will. But on what terms and how long will it take? Leave has no answer to any of that.

So the economic message is actually clear, Scotland benefits from membership.

IMMIGRATION

Nowhere is the difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK (England actually) more stark than immigration. The thing is you wouldn’t really know that if all the information you had was gleaned from the MSM and UKIP. Day after day Scots are bombarded with stories of waves of immigrants flooding the country bring rape, pestilence and an end to ‘British’ civilisation as we know it. Surveys confirm that there isn’t that great a difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK when it comes to our attitude to immigrants. If so that is entirely down to the media. Please don’t confuse immigration with asylum seekers or refugees, even though Farage and UKIP did do so deliberately with their recent poster which was actually illustrated with a picture of a line of Syrian refugees. The fact is Scotland needs immigration.

The percentage of people living in Scotland who were not born here or another part of the UK is only 8%. That’s the same percentage as English people living in Scotland. Our largest city, Glasgow, has the largest number of immigrants, 12.5%. Contrast that with England’s largest city, London, at over 50% or Birmingham it’s second largest city also over 50% or the home of the new Premiership champions, Leicester, over 50%. And many other towns and cities in England with much larger immigrant populations than Glasgow.

The fact is current UK government policy on immigration is harmful to Scotland. With Brexit and walls going up it is going to get worse.
An even starker figure is the overall population contrast between Scotland and England. In the last 35yrs Scotland’s population has grown 3.5%, one of the lowest growth rates in the world. In England the figure is 37%. The difference is massive.

DEMOCRACY

If there is one thing likely more than anything to get my back up it is some UKIP moron/Old Etonian twerp/ignorant little Englander, take your pick, plonker, telling us we have to take our country back. What they mean is they want England back because it is of course the home of all things democratic while the EU is full of faceless bureaucrats determined to do old Blighty down and force us all to eat straight bananas and sauerkraut.

Now it is true that even the most enthusiastic Europhiles believe the EU needs reforming and it does, but leaving isn’t the answer. It is also true that most of us don’t know how the EU is structured, how it operates and how we are represented within it. Whose fault is that? Well it has to be largely the fault of our own government and education systems that no effort is made to educate the populace on what is actually a very important part of our lives. You can bet that a large majority of the little Englanders have no idea how the EU works but the Daily Express tells them that it isn’t working for them and that must be true. The anti EU sentiment plays directly to every xenophobic trait that the English/British possess. The little Englanders/Brits are not used to consensus and cooperation, they are used to telling people what to do.

The irony is that the UK is one of the least democratic democracies you’ll find anywhere. For reference you may care to read my Agenda piece on the subject in the Herald in July 2013 which was part of the indy campaign.
http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/13111901.Agenda__Democratic_case_for_independence/

Just a few points. The UK has two chambers of parliament. One of them, the House of Lords isn’t elected at all, so not very democratic. You get to be a member by privilege of birth, obtaining high rank in one sept of one religion (not the Church of Scotland) or being appointed through the grace of the Prime Minister (neatly hidden under an appointments committee) which means you are either useful to the ruling party, being rewarded for having been useful to the ruling party or a past member, usually failed, of any party.

Far from being democratic this is the biggest unelected assembly anywhere in the world, with over 800 members. Hold, I hear you cry, surely the National Congress of the Peoples Republic of China has more members? Well it appears so as the Congress has some 1,700 members. The thing is the population of China is a tad larger than the UKs. If the Congress had the same representation per head as the House of Lords there would be 16,000 of them. The House of Lords has more members than the entire, elected, EU parliament which represents 28 countries.

We have an unelected Head of State, hardly democratic. Again you become Head of State by accident of birth. This pertains even if you are as mad as a box of frogs, which indeed some occupants of the post have been. There is a suspicion some of the potential future occupants may also be as Clint Eastwood once put it, ‘not too tightly wrapped’.

To get into government you have to be elected (whoopee) to the lower house, the House of Commons. Actually your party needs to be elected, the Prime Minister can appoint anyone from the House of Lords he likes to serve in the government. To be elected a party only needs to secure around one third of the votes cast. The present government got 37%. The last majority government only got 35%, not very democratic.

The Prime Minister exercising the Royal prerogative, given to him by the unelected Head of State, may declare war without consulting parliament or anyone else.

The UK alone of all European countries has no written constitution laying out the rights and obligations of the State and it’s citizens. The UK doesn’t actually have citizens, only subjects. This allows the government and parliament to overrule the courts. The present government in its last LibDem coalition guise has done this. When the Court of Appeal upheld the claim of two jobseekers that their benefits had been unlawfully stopped parliament rewrote the law and back dated it to before the judges ruling thereby making the legal system in the UK redundant. If that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you I don’t know what will.

This stinking, corrupt cesspool of a UK parliament also brought you the expenses scandal, MPs like Malcolm Rifkind whoring themselves for £5,000 a half day selling the information and contacts they obtained by being very highly paid by you as MPs and cabinet ministers, not to mention Alistair Carmichael. Carmichael of course used his position to undermine and smear the First Minister of Scotland by secretly releasing a memo he knew to contain false information, for the purpose of rigging a ‘democratic’ UK general Election. He found himself in court, was found guilty of all charges, brutally castigated by the judges but let off because he was acting as a politician not an ordinary citizen, sorry subject. An ordinary subject would have been sacked and probably ended up in jail. Who wrote the unbelievable law that protects MPs and allows this abuse? Yep, the democratic UK parliament.

The idea that the people of this country will be availed of more democratic accountability outside the European Union is laughable.

INDEPENDENCE

I have to say I’ve never been totally convinced of the idea that Brexit would automatically lead to a second referendum. I know that senior SNP politicians, including the First Minister, and leading figures whom I respect in the independence movement, have been bullish of the prospect but I’ve always been skeptical. Polls have shown that Brexit boosts sentiment for independence around 6 points typically taking support from around 47/48% to 53/54%. More recent polls suggest less of a boost, anyway it is too close and it ain’t a good idea to hang your hat on a single shoogly nail. If this was 4 or 5 years down the line, the polls were consistently showing support for independence at 53/54% the boost of Brexit could be the nail in the Union coffin.

It may prove so yet. In the meantime how should people vote in the EU referendum if their main concern is Scottish independence? There is a gap between England & Scotland on the issue. If the UK votes out it will be on English votes. Scotland is solidly behind Remain. The theory is if Scotland is taken out of the EU against her will on the basis of the rest of the UKs votes it will be a democratic outrage (which it will be) and indy2 will be triggered. So vote Remain.

Some misguided souls think they will be helping the cause by voting Leave. This is all wrong for a number of reasons. Voters in England, because it will be them primarily, make up 85% of the vote. They don’t need any help from you. Scottish votes can only affect the result if it is very, very close and you can’t call that. Independence is best served by a clear and substantial difference in vote between us and the rest of the UK. Voting Leave reduces that gap and in the worst case scenario gives Scotland a Leave majority in which case Brexit is a non issue in the independence debate. If the rest of the UK votes Remain as well, again Brexit is a non issue. Putting too much emphasis on the possibility in the overall context of independence is counter productive.

CONCLUSION

If the vote is Leave there is no way that Cameron can survive and Osborne will go with him. Bad as they are they will be replaced by an even more right wing, xenophobic regime. You can be sure that will be even worse for Scotland.
There are other reasons to vote Remain of course if your concerns are social justice or workers rights etc which I’ve not covered here. Human rights, workers rights and all kinds of protective legislation will be repealed or altered by the Tories. Everyone thinks the EU needs reforming and it does but for economic, immigration, democratic and independence reasons the right vote for Scotland is Remain. All clear now?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dumb and Dumber

Ruth Davidson .jpg

Ruth Davidson leader of the Scottish Conservative Naereferendum Party

Kezia Dugdale.jpg
Kezia Dugdale Leader of the Scottish Labour Naehope Party

What a choice eh? I can’t say I’m greatly engaged by the 2016 Scottish election. It’s all rather predictable.  But there are some things worth commenting on, mainly around tax policy, and I hope to have the time to do that before the election, perhaps even sooner than the publication of Labour’s manifesto which remarkably we won’t see until 8 days before the election. Must be really bad if they are going to keep it hidden that long.

We do however have the Tories manifesto, not that we needed it to know their plan. I say plan rather than plans because they have only one, to replace Labour as Scotland’s number 2 party.

As a document it consists of the remarkable and the unremarkable. The unremarkable is it is full of completely uncosted policy commitments or rather completely uncosted policy commitments which somehow they are going to force on the SNP government. And there will be an SNP government because the Tory manifesto says there will be. It is remarkable in that it is the first manifesto I’ve seen where the election is conceded by page 2. The rest is mainly an anti SNP, anti independence rant  except where they are having a go at Labour.

The plan is clear and has been for a while. They are setting themselves out as the anti independence anti 2nd referendum party. They claim they are the only true unionist party. This is based on Kezia, rather democratically, allowing individuals within her party, including elected ones, to campaign for independence if they wish in the event of indy ref2. The fact is though that the Labour Party remains a Union supporting party.

My query is if you are a Union supporting traditional Labour voter why would you switch to the Tories? Apart from a believe in the Union what else do you share in common with Ruth’s merry little band? Well bugger all is the likely answer. Frankly only the terminally stupid would succumb to such an approach. The fact is there will be a 2nd referendum when the country decides it wants one and there is an SNP government. Switching your vote from Labour to the Tories or the Monster Raving Looney party for that matter will make no difference whatsoever. And when that referendum arrives if you are still inclined to vote for the Union you can do so, you don’t have to become a Tory in the meantime.

Apparently Ruth is a very popular politician and just the gal to hold that vile separatist Sturgeon to account. The only people who actually believe this guff are the Tory party and the Tory supporting press. True in the most recent polls Ruth is apparently more popular than Kez. Kez of course was handed a dead fish in a waistcoat by Murphy and the stench will probably never disperse. On the other, rather more important hand, Labour are still ahead of the Conservatives in the polls.

The only people Ruth is likely to attract, if they do not already swell her ranks, are the brain dead scum of the Unions far right and she is welcome to them.

One point on the tax policy ‘debate’. While the Tories at Westminster are always telling us to get on with using our super duper new tax powers the Tories in Scotland are doing precisely nothing.  All that hanging out with the Lib Dems seems to have affected Ruthie and she is now a fully paid up member of the wishy washy, flip flop party.

Ruth it was who drew a line in the sand and said no more powers to the Scottish Parliament. A commitment, which to mix my metaphors, disappeared like snow off a dyke, when the tide came in. Then she told us she was going to reduce income tax by a penny, what happened to that? Then she got a commission to come up with the idea of introducing a 30% tax rate to ease the way in to a 40% tax rate for our wealthier tax payers. No sooner had the idea been adopted than with the election looming, it was suddenly kicked into the long grass and yet another commission will be set up to advise on tax matters.

Apparently with the country in dire straights this isn’t the time to introduce such a policy. This at least has the merit of being true but it isn’t the reason Ruthie dropped it. A much more likely scenario is this.

The phone rings in the Davidson household. On the line is a ‘friend’  “Hello Ruth?, listen old gal been having a butchers at your 30% tax rate idea. Very whizzo and very Tory. Unfortunately it would create one of those inconvenient black holes we are always going on about. You see when we stitched up the Jockos with the Smith thingy we left you with no way to make up a reduction in income tax. It’s ok for Gidders because he has all sorts of sneaky, under the radar, ways of eaking out a few quid.  Plus of course we can always screw the poor prols a bit harder. Unfortunately those options aren’t open to you old gal. Anyway must pop off now. Dave sends his best and says he really loves the leaping out of cars, the tank riding, the ice hockey stuff. Just wishes he had the balls to do something brave himself, like leading his party rather than doing whatever they tell him. Anyway as I said must dash, we’ve got this awful EU thing that Dave got us into to sort out.”

Well must dash myself now. Hold on the phone’s ringing. It’s the picture ed. What? Are you sure? Well it looks like her to me.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moron of the Day 7


Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moron of the Day 6

Not the best use of a canvassing day.

Not the best use of a canvassing day.

We return with our occasional series ‘Moron of the Day’. Now to be honest we have not blogged much recently due to a shortage of time and to an extent a shortage of suitable material that hasn’t already been well covered elsewhere. But we couldn’t resist today’s subject, John Lamont MSP (Conservative, Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire). Regular readers will know that Mr Lamont won our first two Moron of the Day awards so to return so soon is a real feather in his cap.

The reason he returns is to do with the picture on the right. Chap canvassing in the months before he is up for re-election is hardly unusual you may say and you’d be right except that isn’t what young John is up to. No, he and his little Tory chums are collecting signatures for a petition against…….. another independence referendum. Rest assured dear readers there has not been a shock announcement from the First Minister which you missed when you were out at the shops.

No referendum has been announced. It will likely be years before there is another one which makes it very peculiar to be promoting a petition against something which doesn’t exist. As has been stated ad nauseum another referendum on Scottish independence will not take place until the Scottish people signal that they want one. Referenda of course are the very bedrock of democracy. The one instrument where every vote really does count. It doesn’t bode well for democracy that anyone would petition to prevent the people having their say.

I trust the voters of Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire are taking note that only some four months before the election their MSP is devoting himself to this nonsense rather than laying before them, for their consideration, the admirable policies of the Conservative & Unionist Party.

May I once again remind you that you pay this fool £57,521pa plus expenses.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Methinks they doth protest too much

image

Delusional liar A Carmichael

The furore over Alistair Carmichael’s non-resignation this week has served to underline the complete lack of moral compass in either our national politicians or our national press. Their repeated attempts to justify the former Secretary of State for Scotland’s behaviour and apply convoluted logic to convince the public, and indeed themselves, that he has commited no more than a minor offence, has been illuminating if not edifying.

Much has been made of his ‘mistake’ not being so much the deed itself but in seeking to deny he was involved, thereby breaking the cardinal rule of politics. Lying through your teeth is acceptable, getting caught is the sin. You have to wonder how these politicians would react if a burglar was apprehended exiting their premises with a swag sack full of their possessions. Forget it’s a fair cop guv. ‘Sorry officer I appear to have made a mistake, an error of judgement if you will. A momentary aberration which I deeply regret. I’m a first time offender (as far as you know)’. ‘Perfectly understandable my son, carry on, may the force be with you.’

Let us remind ourselves of what he actually did and more importantly why he did it. He authorised the leaking of a memo describing a private meeting between the First Minister of Scotland and France’s Ambassador to the Court of St James. The memo itself, as admitted by Carmichael was untrue.
It suggests that the First Minister would prefer that David Cameron was returned to Downing Street rather than Ed Milliband who she believes is not up to the job. This all in complete contrast to her public position. It is leaked within a day of the First Ministers acclaimed performance on the televised leaders debate.

So far, so bad. This leak also embroils France’s most senior diplomat in the controversy. The ambassador of one of the UK’s closest and most important allies and trading partners. An unpardonable, and believe me the French won’t pardon it, diplomatic folly.

But the really damning part of this episode is why he did it. He did it not not just to smear a political opponent, which is bad enough, he did it to smear the First Minister of Scotland, the country’s most senior elected official which is even worse. And most damningly of all he did it to try and affect the outcome of a UK general election, to usurp democracy itself. The fact he failed in no way lessens the crime. In my opinion such behaviour should quite literally be a crime.

Carmichael’s apologists, and there are many, would have you believe the indignation that has followed these events is a gross over reaction whipped up by an all powerful SNP on a mission to crush all opposition in Scotland. As if the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties weren’t perfectly capable of organising their own demise. An unholy host that must be resisted at all costs. We are of course used to politicians reacting with faux indignation of the righteous kind over mere ripples in a teacup. This is not one of those occasions.

You could fill a book with the articles and comments emanating from unionist politicians and press so I’ll mention but a few.

Sir Menzies Campbell tells us Carmichael made a ‘mistake’ which he has apologised for. An apology assuming it is sincere may express regret but it doesn’t right a wrong and it doesn’t excuse the behaviour. Willie Rennie says it was an ‘aberration’ and everybody deserves a ‘second chance’. Naw, they don’t. The airhead that is Sir Malcolm Bruce tells us that all MPs lie. So that’s ok then. The other night on the BBCs Question Time programme Ruth Davidson complained of an ‘unsavoury witch hunt’ and Alex Salmond ‘smearing’ David Mundell over the affair. Trying to deflect from the facts of the case. We’ll come back to Mr Mundell shortly.

As for the press let’s take just two examples. The first is the paper that published the leak in the first place, the Tory supporting unionist Daily Telegraph. Both the journalist and the editor stand accused of a complete lack of professional integrity. In their eagerness to publish the SNP damning report they made no attempt to verify the veracity of the information. They made no attempt to contact the First Minister or the French Ambassador nor their respective offices. Publish and be damned seems to be there motto. And damned they should be.

The Guardian provides us with our other example in the form of political journalist Michael White. This looney has become famous on social media following his appearence on Scotland Tonight with his stern countenance and unusual facial appendage. Indeed his moustache has even had a song written about it. Doesn’t do to upset the crazy Nats you know. Carmichael’s pursuit by an ‘SNP inspired lynch mob’ has convinced White that ‘Alistair Carmichael’s political survival has become a matter of principle’. That’s the headline on his article. This inpires two thoughts. Firstly that this deranged fellow has no sense of irony and secondly that he has damn few principles himself.

And what of fellow travellers? Who else knew about this leak? There has been speculation that David Mundell who worked closely with Carmichael and shared office accomodation must have known about it. There was a period of around 6 weeks between the writing of the memo and the Scottish Office deciding the moment was right to release it. Ruth Davidson thinks Alex Salmond is smearing Mundell by bringing it up (actually plenty others have as well). This isn’t a smear it is an attempt to get at the truth which so far Mundell has side stepped. On television the other night he was asked if knew about the affair. Now this is a pretty straight forward question requiring a straight forward answer which is either ‘yes I did know’ or ‘no I didn’t know’. He was asked straight out if he knew about it. Mundell said, ‘the inquiry made it absolutely clear that no one else was involved’. When asked again he gave the same peculiar answer. Returning to my burglar analogy that’s a bit like the polis saying they haven’t caught a burglar, doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a break in.

Any person of normal intelligence with a reasonable grasp of the English language would conclude that he did indeed know about it. And if he knew who else knew? No 10 perhaps? The whole affair stinks and has a long way to run. I hope those pursuing this do not bow to pressure or allow themselves to be deflected.

What we do know is that Carmichael was deeply involved in a personal attack on the First Minister, based on a report he admits was wrong, in a covert attempt to influence the general election result. He subsequently lied about his involvement. We should never accept the cynical view that this kind of behaviour is inevitable or excusable. It is reprehensible. Carmichael should go and go now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Renton Was Right

Renton

Renton

It is too early to analysis the referendum defeat and be able to see rational reasons to explain the failure. But expressing the immediate feelings and looking at what may come next is also valid while the emotions are still raw.

Of many memories of this campaign one that stands out for me was a woman I met when we were on the street handing out flyers for an upcoming debate we had organised. A well dressed middle aged woman was walking down the street, I stepped forward to hand her a flyer. At first, as was often the case in those days, she eyed me suspiciously then read the flyer. With a hard glint in her eye and a real fire in her voice she said, ‘I would be ashamed, ashamed, if Scotland voted no’. I wonder how she’s feeling this morning.

For me it is a mixture of pride, of shame, of fear for the future but also understanding.

I’m proud of my city of Glasgow and Dundee too, going their own way and sticking up two figures to the political elite. I’m proud of the Yes campaign and particularly my local campaign, who have worked so hard, given so much of their time and sacrificed a great deal.

Ashamed? Last night my son wrote on his facebook page, ‘Proud to be Glaswegian, embarrassed to be Scottish’. I too am proud of Glasgow but I’m not embarrassed or ashamed but I do think Scotland should be. Be in absolutely no doubt that Scotland stands diminished today in the eyes of the world. And there are peoples all over Europe who looked to us for a lead and for inspiration. We’ve let them down too. We have given in to fear and in some cases self interest. Those aren’t conciliatory words and they are not meant to be. The truth is there will be a reckoning and those responsible should be held to account.

So what of understanding? We have allowed ourselves to be brow beaten, we have taken the easy path but one that will prove very costly. It is beyond doubt that the main stream media and the BBC was wholly biased against independence and if not for the internet and social media it is doubtful if this campaign would ever have got off the ground. If the MSM had been neutral and fair I believe we would have won easily. It was too early for independence to win. If devo max had been on the ballot it is likely that option would have won and been the last step before full independence. But 300 years of domination, decades of propaganda and two generations of deindustrialisation and the accompanying poverty and loss of self confidence could not be overcome in one go.

As for the future that is what we must turn our attention to now. We will be subject to endless discussion and debate about new powers but the likelihood of any meaningful power being devolved is slight. The political establishment, both Tory and Labour, will be cock a hoop with this victory. Snouts will remain in troughs and the illusion of imperial power continues for a little longer.

As we have already seen they are not in the mood for concessions and Cameron in particular faces great problems in enacting anything without significant constitutional change for England. Expect much of the coverage in the next few months to be about the rest of the UK not Scotland.The timetable laid down will either produce flawed legislation or will have to be delayed and probably produce flawed legislation anyway.

What is likely to emerge for Scotland will be a raft of minor powers and control over income tax. Control over income tax will be the central component. This will be sold as devo max or significant powers. It is far far away from devo max and will be a poisoned chalice. The block grant will be cut to reflect the new power. The Barnett formula will either disappear or be greatly diluted. What Scotland needs is the power to expand and grow its economy. Income tax cannot do that. It is a tax that is primarily designed to either put money in people’s pockets or remove it. It is the biggest revenue collector which is why the UK government will be able to present it as significant.

With large austerity cuts still to come a future Scottish government will be left with difficult choices. Ironically those choices are the ones the No campaign warned of in an independent Scotland. We will have to raise taxes if we want to maintain public spending, never mind expand it, or we will have to cut services and/or borrow. With further irony those wealthier Scots who voted no partly because they were afraid of tax rises are the ones who will bear the brunt. If Labour get in at the 2015 UK general election they will raise top rate tax back to 50%. It is unlikely an SNP government in an independent Scotland would have done so. If the Scottish government decides it needs more revenue it will be all of us who are hit but the highest earners will be hit the hardest.

There will be no escaping those realities. Will Scotlands new found political engagement, particularly among the young, flourish or will the turgid, stifling, reactionary politics of the established parties suppress that enthusiasm? Time will tell. I believe one day and maybe a generation away, when the reality of what we have unleashed onto ourselves becomes too onerous to bear, a new generation will find the courage to take back our independence. The damage that will have been done to our country by then may take decades to repair and a great deal of wealth will have been lost in the meantime.

Until then face the truth, Renton was right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1CB-D1TtXc

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now’s the day an now’s the hour

William Wallace

As I sit down to write this last article before the referendum vote I’ve been looking back on what I wrote in my first article for Newsnetscotland. That was just after the SNP victory in the 2011 election(Keep calm and carry on, 9/5/2011).

I was surprised that so much of what I wrote then had come to pass. I was right that as people became more educated in the subject they would turn to Yes. It also came to pass that the No vote was soft and it wasn’t just a battle for the undecideds. Depressingly I was right that the electorate would be subject to propaganda and media bias.

I wrote too that this was a referendum for the people, not politicians and I’m pleased that was increasingly reflected in the debate. Near the end of the article I wrote, ‘The appeal has to be directly to the people. If I was in independence HQ tonight that is what I would be thinking about, how do I get it to the people’. I didn’t foresee then how the campaign would be a grassroots explosion of activism. A glorious collection of people from all backgrounds forming their own groups, artists, lawyers, health workers, farmers, far too many to list. As many have observed, this surge of people power, the idea that people organised can bring about real change, is here to stay.

A last chance now then to convert the undecided, to bolster the nervous and get out the vote.

For some independence is a practical choice, for others an emotional one and for many of us a mixture of both. The practical case is irrefutable. On the day that Scotland becomes independent we will be wealthier even before we implement the powers to grow our economy. We are in the top 20 of the world’s wealthiest countries.

We will be free of a corrupt and deeply undemocratic system of parliament and government. At last able to elect a parliament and government that is 100% reflective of our views, 100% of the time. We will have the power to pursue and develop renewable energy without the dead hand of Westminster to hold us back or to push a nuclear agenda. We can redirect our resources creating jobs, protecting our health and social services and providing a decent standard of living for our elderly. We can seriously tackle the issues that poverty brings decoupling ourselves from the 4th most unequal country in the world. We can banish nuclear weapons, properly defend our interests and not be dragged into imperial or illegal wars.

We can at last regain our place in the pantheon of independent nations and play our part in the great international organisations. This country is blessed with abundant natural resources and the best educated workforce in Europe. No country in history has been better prepared to be independent.

The emotional case is equally strong. Too often we shy away from expressing that case for fear of being branded bravehearts. Rather a braveheart than a faint heart. Ironically it is the No Thanks campaign that has relied heavily on images of British nationalism, the evocation of Team GB, defeating nazism and many other nationalistic references.

I’ve always felt more Scottish than British and that is a feeling that has grown since devolution established a separate political identity for Scotland. That is coupled with a feeling that Britain is not just politically different but increasingly socially different too, it is a different society difficult to identify with. Unionists would have you believe that Scotland will become insular, cut off by narrow nationalism. The truth is the exact opposite. It is society in the south that is becoming more insular, less welcoming, more xenophobic. Scotland by contrast seeks to engage with Europe and the rest of the world, it holds its identity open to any from anywhere who want to embrace it.

I’ve believed in Scottish independence from the day I could understand a history book. Long before a drop of North Sea oil reached the shore and when the SNP were considered a fringe group. As I’ve grown older and understood the modern day economic and political arguments that belief has only grown stronger.

One of the advantages of being a Scot is that even if you have little knowledge of your immediate family history you belong to a clan and that history is written down. My clan was present at many of the defining moments in our history. They fought at the battle of Largs when the Viking hold on Scotland was broken. They took the field with Bruce at Bannockburn and secured this nations independence. They fought for the Jacobites at Killiecrankie and Sheriffmuir and supported the ’45. After the Union they were involved in some of the famous battles of the British Empire. The clan chief was killed beside General Wolf storming the heights of Abraham to take Quebec. Another commanded a regiment at Waterloo. In modern times my grandfather fought in France in WWI and my father and his brothers in every theatre in WWII.

That’s an awful lot of fighting. We’re in a fight of a different sort today but the stakes are just as high. We have the opportunity to achieve more with two strokes of a pencil than our ancestors could achieve with the all the strokes of their swords. We don’t have to face the terrifying sight of Edward’s cavalry but the tactic from the No campaign remains fear. It has been the same throughout the campaign and has intensified to a peak of ferocity in the last few days. It is the tactic of the bully. And like all bullies they are secretly afraid. They bully, they misrepresent and they lie because they have no arguments to put forward. It is one of the more astonishing aspects of this referendum that after 300 years they cannot articulate any argument for the continuation of the UK.

We can’t change history, even if we wanted to, but we can make history. Let’s protect our fellow citizens who are still fearful. Let us give them heart. You can curl up in a corner and say please don’t hurt me but the bully will hurt you anyway. Or you can stand up and say no more, I will make my own destiny. You won’t stand alone, you’ll stand with our thousands, our tens of thousands, our hundreds of thousands, our millions.

We have an opportunity we may never have again. On Thursday between 7am and 10pm the people of Scotland will once again be sovereign. In those few hours we bear the responsibility for the future of our nation. It is a great responsibility but is is an even greater opportunity.

My mind was made up long ago. When I enter that polling booth I’ll be thinking of those forebears and voting with my heart. Whatever your motivation I hope you’ll join me and vote for a more prosperous country, a fairer more peaceful society and start to build a land that our children, our grandchildren and all those to come after will be proud to inherit.

Now’s the day an now’s the hour

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moron of the Day 5

Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury

Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury

We return with our occassional series, Moron of the Day, with a topical example as the World Cup in Brazil approaches its climax. Footie fans among you will be aware that after a lacklustre performance, from which they garnered only one point, England made an early exit (no sniggering at the back).

As is the norm after such a debacle solutions are sought to the nations footballing woes. The obvious one, which escaped everybody elses attention, was to create a UK team. Step forward today’s genius Laurence Robertson, Conservative (inevitably) MP for Tewkesbury. Mr Robertson put forward the idea for the UK team in an early day motion before Parliament. He says that “no other nation fields more than one national team” and calls on the football authorities in each of the home countries to “come together and form one national football team covering the UK”.

Well there are one or two things wrong with this. Firstly the UK isn’t a nation, it’s a political state. So the ‘nation’ isn’t fielding more than one team. The Scots, the Irish, the Welsh and the English are nations and have one team each. Actually the Irish have two but the UK is responsible for that as well. That he can’t tell the difference is somewhat worrying as between 2005-2010 Mr Robertson was shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Probably just as well he never became the actual Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

It seems something of a colonial throwback to suggest the best way to improve England’s football performance is to take over other countries and press their nationals into service. The Russians of course did this successfully via the Soviet Union but it didn’t end well. Of course the UK is used to taking over other countries and exploiting their resources including their peoples. The Japanese did something similiar in the Pacific although I have yet to hear it suggested that the Japanese Empire be reinstated to boost the chances of the national Sumo team.

I know I may be showing signs of mild skepticism but I doubt that Mr Robertson would have laid this motion before parliament to aid the footballing fortunes of N.Ireland, Wales or Scotland should they have suffered an early exit from a World Cup. Come to think of it we have suffered many an early exit from a World Cup. Where were you then Robertson?

Of course we did have a UK team at the London Olympics. A move condemned and unsupported by the FA’s of Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland and the supporters associations of all four home nations. It was supported only by the English FA which is an extension of the British state. The resulting team, which didn’t do very well, contained only English and Welsh players. The Welsh players were attacked by the English/British press for failing to sing the national anthem with sufficient gusto before each match.

Of course we could follow the golfers example. As the gulf in the respective golfing might of GB&I and the US grew ever wider someone hit on the bright idea that a European team might be more of a match for the Americans. And so it has proved and the format is very popular. The difference of course is the passions the game raises. Golf is generally an individual sport whilst football is the modern embodiement of international warfare. This is another reason football fans across the UK want to keep their own identities.

The rest of Europe might not be keen on the idea. As I write Holland are in the World Cup semi finals and Germany have just gubbed Brazil 7-1 to make the final. We may need their help but it appears they don’t need ours.

I fear Mr Robertson’s early day motion will garner little support. Though it will be interesting to see who actually does support it. A sadly typical attitude from a little Englander who thinks the rest of the UK is greater England. Here only to serve them. In case you’ve forgotten you pay morons like this £67,000pa plus expenses.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s O.K. We’re Normal, It’s Them That’s Weird

Normal Country

Normal Country

Freak Country

Freak Country

Just over a year ago the Yes campaign in East Dunbartonshire kicked off with our first public meeting in Lenzie. Must have had about 30 folk there including a load of Yes East Dunbartonshire volunteers. Bit of a contrast to the 250 odd we had at our Yes/No debate in Kirky last week. Last year we started with personal statements from our panel followed by a question and answer session. I said then that the Union was our reality but it wasn’t normality. Take a look at the map below. What’s the difference between the countries in blue and the countries in red?

chart

There’s two main differences. The countries in blue are independent, the countries in red are not. The countries in blue have written constitutions defining the rights, protections and responsibilities of their citizens the countries in red do not. The countries in blue are normal.

It’s a theme I return to today. Too often in the independence debate we get involved in the narrow arguments and never see the bigger picture. But to truly understand Scotland’s place in the world, how she stacks up as a nation versus the UK and the rest of the world we have to look at ourselves from the outside.

So I’m indebted to an article I read recently that shows some of the contrasts and underlines that it’s us that are normal, we’re like the rest of Europe, it is the UK that is out of step. Here’s some of the reasons why.

Democracy: The UK is the most undemocratic country in Europe with its combination of first past the post elected lower house and unelected upper house. Scotland’s parliament is elected by proportional representation

Education: Free in Germany and the Nordic countries, cheap in many other countries like Holland and France. Free in Scotland. £9,000pa in the UK

Renewable energy: Despite having more potential than nearly every country in Europe the UK uses less renewable energy than every country in Europe except the Benelux countries and Cyprus. Scotland generated more than 30% 0f its energy from renewables last year.

Public ownership: Public ownership of major services and utilities is normal in Europe. UK has flogged off everything. Scotland holds on to water, a devolved issue, as the last big publicly owned service.

Childcare provision: UK has some of the worst provision. Number of women in work is 56%. In Norway it is 79% and in the mid seventies in the rest of the Nordic countries and Germany. Care costs are far higher in the UK than most European countries.

Equality: The UK is the 4th most unequal country in the world. Pay has fallen faster in recent years than in all but 3 EU countries. The UK works the 3rd longest hours in Europe for the second lowest wages in the OECD. We have the 3rd highest housing costs, highest train fares and the 2nd worst level of fuel poverty.

Pensions: The UK has the fourth poorest pensioners in Europe

Children: Child poverty is among the worst in Europe, more than double the rate in Norway for example. We have the highest rate of infant mortality in Western Europe.

Wealth gap: Our wealth gap is twice as wide as any other European country.Productivity is 16% below the average. We have the greatest regional inequality.

Remember these facts when Cameron et al are banging the drum and telling you how great Great Britain is. Remember these facts when they tell you this is as good as it gets. Remember these facts when they tell you you’re too poor, too weak to stand on your own two feet. Remember this when they tell you we’re better together and remember this when you go into that polling booth in September. Those things which Scotland has, those aspirations you have for yourselves and for your country are normal. You’re normal, independence is normal. If you’ll settle for less than normal vote No but if you want what is normal, beyond normal, if you have the vision to see a Scotland that is truly great, a country others look up to not down on then vote Yes. Don’t be abnormal, don’t be weird, try normality + , you’ll like it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Murphys Law

My reply to Murphy’s Agenda piece in The Herald. Bit long for the Herald to print it themselves. Read Murphy’s article here, http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/agenda-working-families-would-pay-price-of-obsession-with-leaving-the-union.23684170

Jim, honest I'm a socialist, Murphy

Jim, honest I’m a socialist, Murphy

Jim Murphy’s Agenda piece in Monday’s Herald adds nothing to the independence debate and seeks only to resurrect old fears and engender new ones. He starts by stating that independence would be disruptive and that, for nationalists, is what ‘makes separation so alluring’. This is both nonsense and insulting. Anyone reading the Scottish Governments proposals can see that they are clearly designed to make the transition to independence with as little disruption as possible and to continue close cooperation with the rUK in those areas where it is beneficial to both countries.

He also makes comparison of this perceived disruption with the 1970s oil crisis, Thatchers 1980s deindustrialisation and the 2008 financial crash. These comparisons border on the ludicrous but allow Murphy to trot out the old and inaccurate story of the UK rescuing Scottish banks. This one has been done to death and most people now know that these banks are British banks whose ownership was largely outside Scotland as was their business. Their toxic debts and investment banking operations were largely acquired through takeovers of English banks. The crisis arose under Westminster banking rules and Bank of England supervision.

The UK did not perform an act of altruism for Scottish banks, it rescued its own banking system. Mr Murphy says it was able to this because the UK has broad shoulders. The UKs broad shoulders are as illusory as those on Joan Collins jacket from Dynasty. The truth is the UK has a credit card which it is rapidly maxing out and a printing press in the back room.

He follows this by insulting the intelligence of the Scottish electorate once again by informing us ‘that a vote to leave the UK is irreversible’. I think people can work out what independence means. Mr Murphy could perhaps provide us with some examples of countries that having made the move to independence have wished to reverse that decision. He’ll have a long search.

We then come to the nub of his argument that independence would increase interest rates and like the other financial upheavals he mentioned would impact mostly on the poor and the lower middle classes. We can agree that financial shocks affect the poorest in society more than others. It was ever thus.

We have a Conservative run government that is punishing the poor and the most vulnerable with their welfare cuts and policies that do nothing to encourage economic expansion and job creation for our unemployed. 80% of UK jobs created are in the London area. The financial elite who are largely responsible for our current position carry on as if nothing has happened, still paying themselves huge bonuses. As food banks proliferate across the country do Mr Murphy and his MP colleagues rage with anger? No they turn up at the openings to take a photo opportunity.

Not long ago Better Together were shoving leaflets through our doors lauding the UKs AAA credit rating and George Osborne was staking his political reputation on it. Since then the AAA rating has been downgraded by two of the three main credit rating agencies. In an independent Scotland we were told this would trigger the equivalent of Armaggedon but in fact it has made little difference to interest rates at all.

Mr Murphy tells us ‘the expert evidence tells us that interest rates would be higher’. In fact economists have varying opinions on the impact of the different currency options available to an iScotland, all of which are viable. The rating agency Standard and Poors has proclaimed that an independent Scotland, even without oil revenue, would attract its highest assessment.

The UK is one of the most indebted countries in the world. What is little discussed in our media is the devastating effect on the credit rating of the rUK of an increase of £130bn of debt coupled with a simultaneous 10% shrinkage of the economy. An economy it relies upon to both service and reduce that debt. Despite austerity UK debt continues to expand at around £10bn per month. That is the scenario the rUK faces if there is no agreement on currency union and Scotland does not agree to service any of the UKs debt. This situation would be further aggravated by the loss of Scotland’s exports which would virtually double the rUKs already chronic balance of payments deficit.

If Mr Murphy truly believes in the situation he has outlined, if he truly wants to help the poor and the lower paid both in Scotland and the UK as a whole there is something he can do. Instead of scaremongering along with the rest of the Better Together naysayers he would be better employed encouraging his shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Mr Balls new best friend George Osborne, to embrace a currency union post independence and in the event of a Labour victory in the rUK general election of 2015 to drop his plans to continue the austerity regime of the Tories.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The UK is Dead

Sir Nicholas MacPherson

Sir Nicholas MacPherson

Brilliant piece by Alex Bell in the Scottish Review.

The week the game changed
The UK is dead.
Hope crushed,
it died last week – Alex Bell

In the last week three major threats have appeared for Scotland. It could suffer the kind of      extreme weather that has doused England, it could not be in a currency union with rUK and it might struggle to get into the EU. Two of these threats are man-made, and one natural. The natural one is the more serious.

I wrote a book on the history of water and civilisation in 2009. The Edinburgh Book Festival called ‘Peakwater’ ‘seminal’ in 2013. Within weeks my second book will be out. It is called ‘The People We Could Be’ and is about the choices facing Scotland. Until this week, I thought the two projects were quite separate. I am no longer certain.

Getting water to follow mankind is a key point in history. When we were no longer at the mercy of floods and droughts, we had the chance to settle and sustain large communities. Civilisation began in an irrigation ditch.

Controlled water means order, floods mean chaos but a new beginning – just ask Noah. Water runs through history as both a symbol of freedom and a threat. It is why political rhetoric likes water – a ‘flood’ of immigrants, being ‘swamped’ by criminals or cheats ‘sponging’ off the state.

There is a physical and mathematical truth to a flood; it will move in predictable ways and a certain volume of water will be capable of a measurable degree of damage. Despite the science, water is presented as a democratic thing. For every drought, there’s a radio phone-in asking the general populace for their views on climate change. With floods in England, it seems that anyone’s view is valid as to why it’s happening and what to do with it – no one seems inhibited by the science or facts of the matter.

The other two threats are not scientific, but abstractions; constructs of a political strategy. The first is that Scotland will not be in a sterling currency union. Despite this being a subjective opinion from a senior civil servant based on the performance of the Scottish Government, this is apparently a fact.

Sir Nicholas Macpherson, head man at the Treasury, has taken the council tax freeze and promises of a corporation tax cut to say that fiscal policy is ‘misaligned’ for the purposes of a currency union, and doesn’t think one can be struck.

In democracy, everyone is allowed an opinion. However, by jointly announcing an identical opinion while rejecting the opportunity to debate it democratically, the UK parties looked clumsy. What was morally wrong was to involve Mr Macpherson. He corrupted his office for the factual error of presenting an opinion as fact, and directly within a political debate.

Unionist friends also hold to the idea that when Jose Manuel Barroso of the EU says he thinks that getting the approval of other member states for Scotland’s unique ‘continued membership through negotiation’ policy is ‘near impossible’ this is also a fact about the mechanisms of the EU, when it is of course an opinion about the culture of the EU.

Unionists like these threats because they genuinely believe Alex Salmond is a con man, and Scots are too gullible to realise this. If Salmond’s trickery is exposed then the people will come to their senses. No campaigners seem oblivious to the arrogance of this stance, and how it plays the man not the Yes movement.

For Yes supporters, last Valentine’s was the day the UK died. If the No camp had anything it was the weight of history, a sense of nations muddling through – the elusive spirit of British reason. Many of us thought a collegiate mood had been struck, a common understanding that something had to give. Last week that hope was crushed.

This moment is critical because of democracy. Unionists take the view that democratic debate doesn’t have a role when the people need to be told what’s right for them. In this regard, they are not democratic. The wisdom of the elite is superior to the voice of the people.

To Yes reformers, this is the ugly face of unionism – a thuggish authoritarianism which has LOVE tattooed on one fist and HATE on the other. Whichever you get, it’s still a punch in the face. The obsession with Salmond is borderline nasty, and arguments against him do nothing to address the democratic concerns at the heart of the referendum. Unionists seem incapable of looking beyond the first minister at the million-plus people who want change.

Interestingly, the Yes movement was shaped by unionism. It got to high office and the chance of a referendum by listening to its critics and making changes. The white paper is a model of reasoned fudge, a classic British compromise. In contrast, No appears fanatical and frothy, more a mob than an argument.

The world’s first written legal code grants the monarch authority based on their ability to control waters – should the king fail to manage the floods, then he is no longer king. In broad terms, this still applies – if governments don’t appear in control, they lose credibility. Two floods have rammed home to Yes voters the degree to which London is not in control.

The first is metaphorical – the deluge of the financial crash. Civilisation was threatened by the untamed forces of finance that no one could control or even explain. Our democratically elected governments were swamped by a greater force, that of global banking, which appeared more powerful than democracy. In that crisis, the banks were saved but the state was crippled. In the aftermath, it turns out the rich are still getting richer, but the poor must pay through wage freezes and welfare cuts.

Curiously the people in charge of the decision to nationalise private debt were Mr Macpherson and Alistair Darling, then chancellor of the exchequer, now head of the No camp. Neither has ever apologised for tolerating such a crazy system, or for creating such an unfair solution. Both would now like Scots to shut up about democracy and leave government to the powerful.

The second flood is real – not a biblical judgement, just the high waters of a weird weather pattern, the like of which we are likely to see a lot of in the future. If the south-west had no sympathy with Scotland’s case last year, then it needs no explaining now. We live in a system that cares little for its fringes, and is incompetent in governing.

Scotland happens to be in the vanguard because it experienced the democratic dysfunction, economic powerlessness and sense of being left behind sooner than other parts of the UK or Europe and had a convenient vehicle of national institutions to carry these concerns. It may have taken some time to formulate its exact demand but that is now much clearer – democratic reform, devolution of power and the right of a people to fight for some control over their affairs. It is a demand that can be heard across the western world – it is the cry of people who want to make globalism accountable.

The reform doesn’t have to be independence. That just happens to be the only option on the ballot. What Scots need is power and accountability, as do folk in the north of England or the south-west. The sight of London returning to boom time, unscathed and unrepentant, does nothing to engender national unity in the UK. Friends in Newcastle and Manchester are just as agitated by this return to inequity.

So the sheer enormity of what Scotland is doing now dawns on the power elite. That is what threatens Macpherson and Barroso – the cry of the people for something better, the charge that the emperors have no clothes.

And this is the deep immorality of the union. It thinks poverty and low ambition in Scotland, the north of England and the south-west are prices worth paying for the status of the powerful. It doesn’t see incompetence or thuggery as a handicap. It rejects democratic debate and rides roughshod over principle. But the floods have come, and now we need a new beginning.

Alex Bell is an honorary fellow at Edinburgh University and former head of policy to Alex Salmond

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Furious Blinking

alistairdarlingsad-460x258

Replied this morning to Alastair Darling’s post on the Better Together site

http://bettertogether.net/blog/entry/alex-salmond-is-now-a-man-without-a-plan

Thought I’d pop it onto the blog as well just in case some clumsy fingered BT web underling accidently deleted it.

I’ve copied Mr Darling’s post below and added my comments.

By Better Together leader and former Chancellor Alistair Darling
14 February 2014
Alex Salmond is now a man without a plan

He is offering Scots a future of uncertainty and instability. Threats of a debt default leaving Scotland and Scots with a bad credit rating. No idea what currency we would be transitioning.

Scotland has no debt therefore it cannot default. Servicing the UK debt, you are partly responsible for Mr Darling, accounts for approx half of Scotland’s deficit. As recently confirmed by the Treasury UK debt is its responsibility. No sharing of assets, no sharing of debt.That isn’t a threat that is common sense and fair. ‘’ If Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the pound.” – George Osborne. That’s a threat, it’s our pound too.

By contrast if Scots want to know what the benefit of remaining in the UK, they need only reach into their pockets and pull out a pound coin. We have one of the most trusted, secure economies in the world. The pound means more jobs, smaller mortgage repayments, cheaper credit card bills and lower prices in the supermarket. Why would we gamble that for an unknown currency?

Wilson’s devaluation, the IMF bailout, black Wednesday, AAA rating lost. Not exactly an untarnished history. The pound means none of the things you infer. All our Nordic neighbours have AAA ratings. 10yr bond yield for Sterling 2.8%. 10yr bond yield for Euro 1.4%. So we are paying twice as much.

This morning’s interview with Alex Salmond on BBC Radio Scotland is instructive. Unable anymore to credibly claim that Scotland would keep the pound he kept falling back on the fact that his fiscal commission said there were “a range of options” for what currency Scotland would use. The penny has dropped for Alex Salmond – he knows he cannot promise the pound.
What a difference a day makes. 24 hours ago the SNP were saying that the fact that the UK parties had not ruled out the pound was proof that Scotland would keep the pound. Once the pound was comprehensively ruled out following advice from the Treasury’s top civil servant they claimed it was bluff. By this morning they were pointing out that there are a “range of options”.
What are the range of options? Another option not on the table is using the pound anyway, in the way Panama uses the Dollar. The Fiscal Commission ruled out ‘the Panama plan’ and they were right to do so because it would mean leaving Scotland without a financial back-up plan. If something like the collapse of RBS happened again a crisis would become a disaster.

If the UK is foolish enough to ignore YOUR OWN sage advice to have a currency union post a yes vote, there are indeed options. The Euro couldn’t be one of them for years, even if it was attractive, and you know that, don’t you? The Adam Smith Institute said “An independent Scotland would not need England’s permission to continue using the pound sterling, and in fact would be better off using the pound without such permission.’’ Most likely solution is a Scots pound pegged to Sterling.

Remind me who owns RBS? Ah yes, the UK government, so nothing to worry about there then.

So Alex Salmond is offering us one of two options: a rush to join the Euro or a separate unproven currency. Of course until a very recently the Euro was Alex Salmond’s preferred option. We have seen almost nightly on the news what it can be like for a small country in the Euro. Establishing a separate, unproven currency would likely mean higher interest rates as we would be starting from scratch with no credit history. Both currency options would be bad for jobs as every time we sold to our biggest customer, England, Scottish firms would need to pay the costs of changing currency.

‘’Scottish firms would need to pay the costs of changing currency.’’ Or alternatively Mr Darling, English firms would need to pay the costs of changing currency. Works both ways.

Who would you rather lend to. Country A with no debt, massive oil reserves and an oil exporter, Gas exporter, electricity exporter, food and drink exporter or country B which has just had its creditworthiness downgraded, its economy shrink 10%, increased its debt by £120bn making it one of the developed worlds most indebted, if not THE most indebted nation, added about £30bn to its already chronic trade deficit and is an oil importer, gas importer, electricity importer and food and drink importer. No brainer really isn’t it?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment