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.

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


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 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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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?

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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.


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Moron of the Day 7

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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.

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Methinks they doth protest too much


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.

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Renton Was Right



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.

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