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Showing posts with label Better Together. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Better Together. Show all posts

Friday, 16 May 2014

Alex Salmond – the most popular political leader in the UK–but not with Daily Record and Better Together–or Jim Sillars!

 

Hard to escape the conclusion that this interview is just part of a Better Together, Daily Record-fuelled "Get Salmond" last ditch initiative, doomed to failure as all the others have been. That's because they're based on three false premises, i.e.

1. All YES supporters like Alex Salmond.
(They don't - large blocks of them don't want him as a leader of an independent Scotland - but they recognise the main reason they will have a choice at all on the future of their country is Alex Salmond - and they'll vote YES).

2. Alex Salmond is unpopular.
(He's not - his popularity rating are higher than any other Scottish or UK leader, and higher than most EU leaders)

3. The YES campaign's success is totally down to Alex Salmond.
(It's not - it's down to hard core, passionate commitment across of range of political parties, organisations and individuals, all working dynamically in a wide range of initiatives and grassroots organisation for a YES vote.)

Given that something upwards of 45% of Scots say they are No voters at the moment, it would be a minor miracle of at least 32% of them didn't like Alex Salmond.

But if Better Together really believe that the undecideds and No voters contain 32% who are only held back from voting YES by a dislike of Alex Salmond, then they have real trouble in River City!

What the increasingly desperate faux concern addressed to the First Minister to change his style is based on is a transparent attempt to knobble a style that has been spectacularly successful.

    Sunday, 30 March 2014

    Currency creates crisis – the Better Together meltdown after Guardian leak

    A few facts -

    QUESTION: What is the “optimal currency arrangement" for Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK)?

    Murdo Fraser put this question to five experts on 12th March. They disagreed on the answer. This on the same day that the Treasury Committee was grilling Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and doing their level best – unsuccessfully - to bounce him out of his neutrality and objectivity on the the shape of a currency union after a YES vote, and on Scotland’s independence, as re-confirmed and re-asserted to Stewart Hosie MP.

    UK’s answer isThe present arrangement is the best. Stay with the UK and keep the present arrangement – vote No!”

    Scottish Government’s answer isWe like many aspects of the present arrangement but we don’t like a host of other aspects of UK – let’s keep the best of the present currency arrangement, improve it - and vote YES to Scotland’s independence!

    Currency: Scotland’s currency after independence will be the pound sterling, either in a currency union with rUK (99% probability) or under sterlingisation - i.e. we will carry on using the pound as a tradable currency and peg it on a fixed rate to sterling.

    Monday, 13 January 2014

    Scottish Defenders of the Union – complex and varied in motivation and belief

    Over the last month, I have been exposed directly to a fair sample of the infinite variety of the Scottish (defined as resident in and committed to Scotland, regardless of country of origin) defenders of the Union and advocates of a No vote, through a more or less random series of contacts.

    As our intrepid YES doorstep campaigners and politicians know far better than I, direct contact yields insights and perceptions that can seem more profound than print and media exposure to more structured arguments. But they can be dangerously misleading on occasion – so I proceed here tentatively, and with many reservations and qualifications. I make no general claims – what I have to say is subjective and reflects only one - and perhaps unduly narrow – perspective. Here are the variants I have encountered, in some cases dominant and seeming to almost define the position of the individual displaying them, in other case simply one aspect of a complex and often conflicting mix. The list of course is not, and never can be comprehensive.

    SOME ANTI-INDEPENDENCE  VOTER TYPES

    The Patroniser: Independence? It will never happen – it’s Salmond and the SNP’s obsession – has always been a minority sport, as shown again and again by the polls. Two-term SNP Government elected? Simply a local reaction to last days of UK Labour, incompetence of Scottish Labour, the Crash and the Coalition – slap on the wrist for UK – will return to normal UK voting at referendum and in 2015. Give it up, mate – it’s a lost cause …”

    A brief discussion with Patronisers quickly reveals that they have little conception of the arguments for and against independence and are sadly deficient in facts and key dates. Overall mode – complacency and reluctance to be confused by argument or hard information.

    The Cringer: “Do you think Scotland’s big enough to run its own affairs? We haven’t got the people – just look at Holyrood – they’re all mediocrities in a wee, pretendy Parliament.  It would be all kilts and heather, Braveheart and tartan dolls. And the oil’s running out, there’s no real industry. All the real talent has left long ago – anybody with any sense heads south or emigrates. We couldn’t even run the Bank of Scotland – it caused the UK crash and we had to be bailed out by England. “

    As in all classic Orwellian-doublethink, the Cringers don’t see themselves as inferior - or ready to head south or emigrate - and any current examples of Scottish success in running things can be dismissed by either claiming it’s an aberration – or down to UK involvement and help. Pointing to Scottish success in the past is either put down to Braveheartism or to the benefits of the Union. Overall mode – embarrassment at Scotland and Scottishness, complacency that their personal repudiation of Scottish competence somehow explains them being exempted from the criticisms, and the belief that it ingratiates them with UK power and influence.

    The I’m Alright Jocks:I’ve got no complaints about the UK – it’s done alright by me. I bet it’s done alright by you too! What have we got to complain about? Yes, there’s been a bad patch since 2008 crash, and difficult things have had to be done, but we’re on the way back up. The poor? Hungry children? Pressures on the sick and vulnerable, the NHS, unemployment? There are no poor people! Have you seen any?

    Growth in food banks? All exaggerated, and what do you expect – some people will always turn out for a freebie! I don’t see any deprivation or poverty near me. Most of those in trouble are in that state because of their fecklessness – they can all afford phones and iPads and holidays abroad on benefit. Too many scroungers, too many immigrants abusing NHS and benefits. My parents didn’t have much, but they scrimped and scraped to educate me, and I’ve done all right.”

    There’s an element of the I’m Alright Jock callousness and denial of reality in all unionist types, but the above summarises the core ‘arguments’ in their most basic version. Overall mode: Denial of deprivation or blaming of the poor, belief in urban myths, blame, and utter callousness about the less-fortunate.

    The Fearful: “The risks of dismantling a 300-year-old union are too great. These are dangerous times – we need the security of belonging to a larger, more powerful grouping. On defence, security, international clout, trade with other nations, we need the backing of UK. Duplication of services, inevitable in a newly-independent nation add extra cost and the risks of settling-in problems.”

    Often mainly rational, albeit with an element of irrational fear, the Fearful will listen to argument and can be persuaded, providing their logic-based posture isn’t simply a rationalisation for deep-rooted, emotional opposition. A simple test is whether or not they’ve at least looked at the White Paper and/or are amenable to examining its argument. If they’re totally dismissive and contemptuous of it, they are probably a lost cause in the immediate term. Overall mode: The status quo of UK may not be perfect, but it’s the devil we know. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    The Emotional Scot/Brit: “We have over three centuries of co-operation, a shared cultural and commercial heritage, we have fought and died together in wars for freedom, and justice. The links of family – kith and kin – cross all national boundaries. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to be foreigners, to have to stop at border points. We will lose a fundamental part of our identity – not to mention our shared institutions, e.g. BBC - if we rip the union apart.”

    This category exists with subtle but important variations, e.g. are they Scot/Brits or Brit/Scots – which identity is regarded as more significant? The Emotional Scot/Brit mindset can also be part of other dominant modes, indeed it can represent a residual, buried emotional mindset in some marginal independence supporters! Some are actually seeking reassurance on these points. Their fears can either be factually removed by the truth - e.g. on boundaries, border posts – or are logically inconsistent – e.g. pointing out that we fought and died together with other independent nations in wars for freedom and justice, and the majority of wars were imperialist, unjust, and in some cases, illegal. (The Emotional Scot/Brit is often present in Don’t knows.) Overall mode: There are important, unquantifiable family and emotional ties that bind us, and it is a huge risk for the stability of the British Isles to sever them.

    The Internationalist Multilateralists:

    “Nationalism is inherently divisive – bigger is better, economically, socially and for powerful defence. Ultimately, I favour world co-operation across boundaries, and I believe all men and women are brothers and sisters, and are equal, regardless of social class, economic or ethnic background, but meanwhile I support the UK, despite its appalling imperial record of exploiting other nations and ethnic groups for centuries, and its current record of Parliamentary, police and press corruption, its gross inequality and staggering gap between rich and poor, its inherent distrust of and opposition to trades unions, its House of Lord comprising over eight hundred unelected peers, ennobled variously because of birth, being bishops on one church, large donors to political parties or being failed, but loyal politicians.

    I am morally opposed to nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and would never be the first to use them – however … (and here comes the buts and the caveats) … but in a still unstable world, with unpredictable rogue regimes, I believe it is vital to hold on to our nuclear weapons and to our nuclear alliance with those countries – our allies - who got them first, resisting any attempts by other countries to get them (that’s called nuclear proliferation, by the way!) because we can be trusted with them but they can’t.  Of course, I’m committed to nuclear disarmament for the whole world, but only if every other country goes first – that’s called multilateralism.

    As I said, I would advocate only using them as a deterrent and would never use them first, if at all, but I see no contradiction on being part of a nuclear alliance, NATO, that has a first-strike policy, and is dominated by the only country in history to have used nuclear weapons twice against cities in a non-nuclear country, Japan, and in a then non-nuclear world.

    The various close misses of nuclear Armageddon over the last sixty years or so I dismiss as unfortunate aberrations caused by periodic gross incompetence of military or civil authorities, greedy and amoral industrialist or lunatic politicians – including at least one President of the USA

    I suppose in summation, I regard it as deeply unpatriotic of Scottish independence supporters to want to be rid of weapons of mass destruction located without their consent near to their largest centre of population, posing an ever-present threat of nuclear accident, pollution, and of Scotland being a first-strike target by the lunatic foreign dictators our whole case for WMD is predicated on.

    Overall mode: Utter idiocy, moral bankruptcy, venal hopes of profit, career and preferment – almost certainly a Scottish Labour politician in UK power structure. With a tiny number, a faint hope that the corrosive effect of their amoral sophistry is beginning to weaken the rotten foundations of their strategically and morally untenable position.

    Sunday, 12 January 2014

    A YouTube comment on my channel from an anonymous ‘Gordon’, attacking Wings and Newsnet Scotland

    I received this as a pre-moderation email on my YouTube channel for a video in response to a comment by Geoff Huijer who is not anonymous. I thought it warranted being posted on my blog for a wider audience.

    It suggest a Better Together spinner, and a No campaign that’s getting very worried by the success of YES online, especially the fine job being done by Wings over Scotland and Newsnet Scotland. The idea that the prompted any-indy outpourings of the Treasury somehow have intrinsic validity and objectivity is laughable.

    YouTube comment

    Gordon

    +Geoff Huijer You write that as if it's somehow an open and shut case that independence would make us better off economically.
    The McCrone report was written in 1974 and has no relevance at all to economic predictions about what independence would achieve in 2014, particularly as UK oil production peaked about 15 years ago. Two of the other sources you've listed here are essentially mouthpieces for the Yes campaign: Wings Over Scotland, a blog run by someone who made his name writing about computer games on the Sinclair Spectrum, and Newsnet Scotland, a hopelessly biased pressure group masquerading as a neutral attempt to inform the public. Neither of these sites have any economic standing and you could just as easily point at organisations that do have genuine economic credentials, such as the recent reports by the Treasury, or the report by the IFS which stated the exact opposite (that we'd be worse off after independence) - and I'm fully aware you'll no doubt find these biased as well, but they're at least in the ballpark of being neutral assessments. To compare them with a random blog set up by a video games journalist is pretty nonsensical.
    The truth about the economic case is that nobody really knows whether we'd be better off or not. The Yes side seem to think that you can win that argument by just pointing at tax revenues relative to expenditure and claiming we'd have more money to spend as an independent country. That's flawed for several reasons:
    1. It ignores transition costs, which can effectively write off any gains from independence for decades. Even if independence was in our long term economic interest, a short 3 year period where we have to eat transition costs could push those gains back by as much as 30 years. That's been demonstrated conclusively by academics like Robert Young (who has nothing to do with the independence campaign and wrote the bulk of his research long before a referendum was even on the agenda) yet nobody sees fit to mention it.
    2. It ignores the benefits of pooling resources and makes the baseless assumption that secession is a zero sum game where one side necessarily benefits more than the other. No economist of any standing would accept that.
    3. It ignores issues such as the rate of interest we'd pay on our debt, given it's fairly reasonable to expect a country with a smaller backstop to guarantee its debt will have to pay a higher rate of interest on its government bonds (and if we don't have the Bank of England acting as lender of last resort in a currency union then that would be exacerbated even further).
    4. It ignores issues such as pensions, where on current trends we'd be expected to pay more due to our population ageing faster.
    We could list countless other examples, but the key point is that you can't simply point at taxation revenue relative to public spending, ignore every other relevant factor, and claim that there's a clear economic case for independence.

    Tuesday, 7 January 2014

    Scottish Better Together parties can’t deliver more powers to Scotland – and Westminster won’t. Devo negligible, zero or minus

    As anyone who has followed my blog and tweets over recent years will know, I have argued every aspect of the devolution/more powers versus full independence arguments, and have expressed fears – and often astonishment – that the complex implications of the shifting currents of voter opinion and preferences on devo within UK, full independence, and the missing second question are being avoided or argued inadequately.

    The way this argument is handled will impact crucially on the way the Scottish electorate will ultimately resolve this, faced with a simple YES/NO choice on September 18th 2014.

    Although there seems to be a dawning recognition of just how this question will dominate the debate in the months remaining - and some evidence that both YES and No campaigns have at least grasped the essentials - there is still a flabby sogginess in the YES (and SNP) arguments, and continuing failure of media commentators and TV political news anchors to ask focused questions. This is allowing Better Together to pump out a miasma of vague promises to deliver more powers, without a shred of evidence of exactly how they could do this.

     

    So let me reiterate again what I see as the fundamentals, with a plea that all parties to the public debate fully present and explore them, and that media commentators ask the key question again and again.

    CORE ARGUMENTS

    The Scottish Parliament exists only by the grace and favour of the sovereign UK Parliament under the Scotland Act, and its limited powers are  in the gift of Westminster. They can be amended, curtailed or withdrawn at any time by the Westminster UK government. Scottish MPs can vote against this but have not got the power to block it, given the massive disparity in their numbers versus rUK MPs.

    In the lead-up to the Edinburgh Agreement, all polls and virtually all expressions of opinion by Civic Scotland indicated a majority for more powers for Scotland – devo max, devo plus and other variant – while remaining within UK, i.e. with defence and foreign affairs remaining under Westminster. (There is an inherent contradiction in this preference on defence and foreign affairs with the Scottish electorate and Civic Scotland’s wish for a nuclear-free Scotland. A WMD-free Scotland cannot be delivered under such devolution.)

    The Scottish Government was open to a second question in the 2014 referendum, offering not just a binary choice between full independence and status quo, but a question on more powers within the UK. Civic Scotland was highly vocal in support of a second question.

    (There were formidable, but not insuperable problems in framing such a ballot paper – or papers – and even more formidable problems in evaluating the various possible vote outcomes. During this period of the debate, the political parties and the media showed a spectacular naivety and ignorance in addressing these complex issues.)

    The 2nd question veto

    The second question was effectively vetoed by David Cameron and the Better Together Parties, and their negotiator, Michal Moore, was mandated to treat this as a deal breaker in the Edinburgh Agreement negotiations.

    The reason advanced by Cameron and the Better Together axis was that the will of the Scottish electorate had to be determined with absolute clarity on independence before any question of more powers could be addressed. This was a patently specious and self-serving argument, given that the will of the Scottish people seemed evident from the opinion polls and Civic Scotland.

    The real reason – in my view – was that if a second question was offered and proved decisively to be the preferred option, the UK Government would be under major pressure to deliver more powers – and they had – and have - no intention of doing so.

    The power realities of Scottish Better Together and Westminster parties

    Scottish Labour, Scottish Tories and Scottish LibDems can have their little think tanks, commissions, etc. under various exciting and pompous titles, they can  pass resolutions at Scottish party conferences, they can make recommendations to their London party masters, they might even conceivably reach a core consensus – but they cannot deliver such powers.

    Only the Westminster parties can decide whether or not to include all or any of these recommendations in their 2015 general election manifestos – and they won’t, because to do so would be electoral suicide, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and God’s gift to UKIP.

    Here’s my analysis again from a recent posting on Scotland-US.

    • The only mechanism by which more powers can be delivered, now or after a No vote, is The Scotland Act. It has already delivered a dribble of powers after the Calman Commission. The Scotland Act leaves absolute control with the Westminster Parliament over Scotland’s devolved powers: it created the devolved Parliament, it has the power to vary its powers by adding to them or subtracting them. It has the power to end devolution and dissolve the Parliament by vote in which non-Scottish MPs massively outnumber the 59 Scots.

    • In other words, until and unless it votes for full independence, Scotland is wholly dependent on the grace and favour of the British Parliament for its Parliament and any powers it has.

    • There are powerful voices in the Commons and the unelected Lords who have always bitterly opposed the creation of a Scottish Parliament, regarding devolution as the thin edge of a wedge that would end the Union. There are a growing number of voices in England, notably the local authorities who bitterly resent what they see as Scotland privileged status in the Barnett Formula

    • There are strong voices, encapsulated by The West Lothian Question – coined by a Scot, Tam Dalyell – that questions the ability of Scots MPs to influence English legislation on purely English matters by their votes in Westminster, while English MPs cannot influence devolved matter in the Scottish Parliament. There are moves to reduce the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. There is growing resentment in England and Wales about what they see as Scotland’s privileged position under devolution.

    • To grant more powers to Scotland after a No vote, or even promise them before one would be greeted with outrage by the English electorate and the Welsh Labour voters. It would be political suicide in the 2015 UK general election for any party that promised or committed such powers.

    • The Scottish electorate do not trust the UK on promises of more powers after a No vote in a referendum, because they have already reneged on just such a promise in 1979 after a referendum – they have form!

      But the decisive argument for Scots is that, had the UK Parliament and government any intentions to consider or grant more powers, they would not have opposed the second question in the Scottish referendum addressing the wish for devo max within UK revealed in poll after poll.

      Alex Salmond and the SNP government were willing to consider such a question and option, offering a middle road between independence and the status quo. The resolute opposition to the 2nd question – a deal breaker for the Edinburgh Agreement – by David Cameron and all the UK Better Together parties – told the Scottish electorate all they needed to know – that a No vote, far from producing more powers, was almost certain to produce a clawback of powers and a £4 billion reduction in the Barnett Formula.

      The Scottish electorate know that a No vote, in addition to attracting the astonishment and thinly veiled contempt of the world for a nation that rejected its chance to be independent, would result in either devo zero or devo minus.

      Only independence will deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people the freedom they need to determine their future in this uncertain world and the challenging times ahead.

    Saturday, 4 January 2014

    Cybernats – Eat your heart out!

    I feel that cybernats are having their undeserved reputation for bad behaviour seriously challenged of late. Here are some of my favourites from my pre-moderation inbox of YouTube comments. PvPGodz Uk is my current favourite.  I really feel his (her?) formidably elegant powers of articulation of the Project Fear core arguments deserve a wider audience, and I commend them to Alistair Darling and Alistair Carmichael.

    (Sadly, YouTube has been classifying them as spam of late, and despite their tickable boxes, I have no way of either deleting them or showcasing them to a wider public – except this.)

    PvPGodz Uk

    Why shouldn't we vote for independance? We are that busy thinking about we're gonna be the greatest nation in the Universe, but we are really gonna be bankrupt, we get food imported from other countrys, and some include the EU countrys we're getting the food from! We're getting threatened that if we go independant we won't be in the EU anymore, and where we gonna get half our food, eventually we'll run out and we'll be full of poverty! And if we get the 'Stirling Pound' tooken from us what we going to use, and to make factorys to produce money in scotland, or make another currency, it'll cost money to do that! Alex Salmon has no idea what we are gonna get ourselfs into, I'd borde the first train to England if they take the money! The Queen's brining in lots of money to 'Britain', and it won't be shared amoung us if we go independant, and we rely on the money we get from the Queen brining in money from tourists, and England will have the money, the currency, you name it! And we'll have nothing! 
    NO TO INDEPENDANCE!

    Michael Cawood

    Dear Salmond, first you need to learn to run a piss-up at a brewery

    Debra smith

    If Scotland go independent, that means they are not British anymore, ergo they can't have our bloody currency!!! Let em have the euro and see how that works for em.
    Vote for independence Scotland please, then you might stop your bitching about England , and how mean we are to you.

    karezza777

    How to be Scottish: 1. Eat deep fried Mars Bars. 2. Wear a skirt 3. Hunt Haggis 4. Believe in the Loch Ness Monster 5. Blame everything on England 6. Speak unintelligibly 7. Enjoy bagpipe noise 8. Say "Och aye the noo" 9. Drink nothing but whisky 10. Enjoy dreek weather

    amicusalba

    This is a shit video that tries to propagate the Nationalist Separatist agenda by Kim Il Salmond. Posted by an idiot for an idiot. Only 30% of Scots support this tit.

    Adi B

    A big part of Scotland economy is Edinburgh which is big financial city and most of the large private sector employers are financial businesses but when Scotland get independence forget AAA rating they will be a new small economy so will be counted as high risk so their rating will not be good. This will badly effect Edinburgh as financial business rely a lot on good rating like AAA but after independent most likely lot of the financial businesses will move their headquarters out of Edinburgh.

    Wednesday, 4 December 2013

    What awaits Scotland after a No vote

    This was my hasty (I was on my way to hospital ) reply to an article criticising the No campaign - Aren’t we already losing Scotland

    I’ve left un-edited (but re-formatted and typo-corrected) In the cold light of today, James Forsyth’s comment weren’t exactly “touting” devo max and more powers – his piece was bit more considered than that – but it gave me the opportunity to say what I wanted. US opinion matters!

    Comments [One comment]

    • Peter Curran says:

      December 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      James Forsyth’s comment touts the “jam tomorrow” of more powers to the Scottish Parliament after a No vote, delivered through one of the many variants discussed in the run up to the Edinburgh Agreement on the referendum – devo max, devo plus, devo something or other.

      The realities of the situation are these -

      The only mechanism by which more powers can be delivered, now or after a No vote, is The Scotland Act. It has already delivered a dribble of powers after the Calman Commission. The Scotland Act leaves absolute control with the Westminster Parliament over Scotland’s devolved powers: it created the devolved Parliament, it has the power to vary its powers by adding to them or subtracting them. It has the power to end devolution and dissolve the Parliament by vote in which non-Scottish MPs massively outnumber the 59 Scots.

    • In other words, until and unless it votes for full independence, Scotland is wholly dependent on the grace and favour of the British Parliament for its Parliament and any powers it has.

    • There are powerful voices in the Commons and the unelectd Lords who have always bitterly opposed the creation of a Scottish Parliament, regarding devolution as the thin edge of a wedge that would end the Union. There are a growing number of voices in England, notably the local authorities who bitterly resent what they see as Scotland privileged status in the Barnett Formula

    • There are strong voices, encapsulated by The West Lothian Question – coined by a Scot, Tam Dalyell – that questions the ability of Scots MPs to influence English legislation on purely English matters by their votes in Westminster, while English MPs cannot influence devolved matter in the Scottish Parliament. There are moves to reduce the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. There is growing resentment in England and Wales about what they see as Scotland’s privileged position under devolution.

    • To grant more powers to Scotland after a No vote, or even promise them before one would be greeted with outrage by the English electorate and the Welsh Labour voters. It would be political suicide in the 2015 UK general election for any party that promised or committed such powers.

    • The Scottish electorate do not trust the UK on promises of more powers after a No vote in a referendum, because they have already reneged on just such a promise in 1979 after a referendum – they have form!

      But the decisive argument for Scots is that, had the UK Parliament and government any intentions to consider or grant more powers, they would not have opposed the second question in the Scottish referendum addressing the wish for devo max within UK revealed in poll after poll.

      Alex Salmond and the SNP government were willing to consider such a question and option, offering a middle road between independence and the status quo. The resolute opposition to the 2nd question – a deal breaker for the Edinburgh Agreement – by David Cameron and all the UK Better Together parties – told the Scottish electorate all they needed to know – that a No vote, far from producing more powers, was almost certain to produce a clawback of powers and a £4 billion reduction in the Barnett Formula.

      The Scottish electorate know that a No vote, in addition to attracting the astonishment and thinly veiled contempt of the world for a nation that rejected its chance to be independent, would result in either devo zero or devo minus.

      Only independence will deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people the freedom they need to determine their future in this uncertain world and the challenging times ahead.

    Monday, 14 October 2013

    Alistair Carmichael fumbles and blusters on what happens after a NO vote in 2014

    Alexander Morrison "Alistair" Carmichael, the new ‘Scottish’ Secretary opens by criticising the YES Campaign for "lack of detail" and the second half of the interview blustering feebly, unable to give any detail or any consensus among the parties of Better Together on perhaps the biggest question of all for the Scottish electorate - What happens if there is a No vote?

    (Real answer: Devo Zero and likely clawback of existing powers under Scotland Act, not to mention utter UK contempt for Scots and Scotland for failing to seize their chance of independence.)

    Alistair, his party and his Tory and Labour friends will tell us only AFTER we reject our only opportunity to gain full powers through a YES vote for independence. The three parties that will then engage in a bitter UK election battle in 2015, with the gruesome UKIP snapping at their heels, driving them even further to the right.

    In contrast, the SNP's White Paper will set out, next month, highly specific commitments on the structure and shape of a new Scotland, in as much detail as can be achieved before the major negotiation with UK after a YES vote, and the subsequent election for an independent Scottish Parliament in May 2016, where the Scottish electorate for the first time for 306 years will truly elect their own Scottish Government.

    Bluster on that, Alistair ...

    Tuesday, 8 October 2013

    Who ****** the UK economy 2007-2008?

    CRASH CHRONOLOGY and GOVERNMENT CULPABILITY

    Labour in UK Government 1997-2010.
    Gordon Brown: Chancellor 1997-2007, PM 2007-2010
    Alistair Darling: Chancellor 2007-2010
    Labour/LibDem coalition in Holyrood 1999-May 2007.

    SNP minority government under Alex Salmond: May 2007-2011

    Northern Rock crisis and run on the banks -  Sept 2007 (SNP, Alex Salmond in minority devolved government for less than four months.)

    RBS and economic meltdown 2008

    Which party, which PMs, which Chancellors of the Exchequer, which politicians do you think ****** the British economy?

    And a blog of mine from 2012 on the ineffable Alistair Darling, champion of all things British and enemy of Scotland independence - DON'T TRY TO REWRITE HISTORY, ALISTAIR!

    The Herald carries a page two article today Darling lays into Salmond over his RBS judgment, and a featured interview with Anne Simpson and Darling on page 12. To say that Anne Simpson’s introduction to her piece is a little partial is probably to understate the case.

    “ … Alistair Darling is not someone given to social affectations. Candour not coyness defines him. Yet why is this proud Scot, former chancellor of the Exchequer and committed fiscal Unionist so reluctant to spearhead a campaign against the man who would sever Scotland from the United Kingdom?

    “So far Alex Salmond has steered the independence argument exactly to his liking. Meanwhile those who disagree with the First Minister’s plan for radical amputation are without a central figure whose gravitas could pull together a robust opposition.”

    "... the man who would sever Scotland from the United Kingdom?"

    What, Anne – no approving words on the First Minister’s candour, no plaudits for him as a proud Scot? No recognition that in every word, every policy statement, every media interview, the First Minister makes it clear that his vision for independence and a social union with the rest of the UK after independence is the very reverse of a ‘radical amputation’?

    Well, moving on, let’s take a look at ‘candour not coyness’ Darling on ABN Amro -

    In 2007 ABN Amro was acquired, in what was at that time the biggest bank takeover in history, by a consortium made up of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Fortis bank and Banco Santander. Here’s what Alistair Darling said in his memoirs about what happened at the end of 2007, just before 2008, the year when the world’s banking system fell apart.

    Extract from memoirs - "time to start worrying"

    On a Saturday morning, just before Christmas 2007, I answered the door at my home in Edinburgh. There on the doorstep was Sir Fred Goodwin, chief executive of RBS, holding a gift-wrapped panettone.

    Although it would mean not having my private secretary with me, I felt entirely relaxed about seeing him alone, at home. I was also intrigued. I had seen other CEOs of the banks alone in the past – none of this was abnormal – but I knew that his asking to see me in private could only mean that he was worried about something.

    I had a great deal of sympathy with what Fred Goodwin was saying, but I asked the question: why were the markets singling out RBS for particular concern? His answer was that they felt RBS didn't have sufficient capital. I asked whether he was comfortable that RBS did have sufficient capital, and his response was that he felt that it did. And yet I was worried. It occurred to me that Sir Fred had not come just as a shop steward for his colleagues. He would not admit it, but I sensed that RBS, which until that time had seemed invincible, its directors and senior staff exuding confidence verging on arrogance, was in more trouble than we had thought.

    Does this sound like a new Chancellor who had anticipated anything bad in relation to RBS? His pal Fred Goodwin, the CEO of RBS. “which until that time had seemed invincible had just popped in with a panettone. He asks Fred the Shred “why were the markets singling out RBS for particular concern?” Suddenly, the presence of neighbour Fred and his gift-wrapped panettone worries him.

    This is the man who criticises Alex Salmond for supporting the ABN Amro deal. One might reasonably assume that Alistair Darling had a helluva lot more information about the ABN Amro deal and his pal Fred than Alex Salmond did, but in December 2007, the end of the year in which the deal was concluded. just before the world fell apart in 2008, he gets belatedly worried about Fred, RBS and his gift-wrapped panettone?

    As the SNP commented after Darling ‘criticisms’ -

    This is a laughable attempt to rewrite history by Alistair Darling. He was the Chancellor responsible for banking regulation and its failure at the critical time, and he was the Chancellor responsible for the signing off of the ABN Amro deal.

    “Labour gave Fred Goodwin his knighthood, and Mr. Darling’s contacts with Fred Goodwin were far more extensive than the First Minister’s. Fred Goodwin was an adviser to Alistair Darling as chancellor, and was still a member of a key Treasury body advising Labour months after the banking crisis and quitting RBS.”

    Here is ‘proud Scot’, ‘candour not coyness’ Darling talking to Isabel Fraser very recently. Judge for your self - Alistair Darling -- naive, disingenuous, or just woefully unprepared for Isabel Fraser?

    As for Darling’s defining quote, the one used to headline the Anne Simpson interview -

    Separation means that once you go, you go. You can’t come back.”

    Leaving aside the banality of the statement, it is undoubtedly true – and none of the countries who ‘separated’, or rather secured their independence from Britain over the centuries have ever shown the least signs of wanting to come back …

    Monday, 13 May 2013

    Nicola Sturgeon’s speech – 13th May 2013

    (N.B. All emphases, italicisation, etc. are mine, and represent my view of significance. They were not present in the SNP transcription of Nicola’s speech.)

    NICOLA STURGEON - THE BENEFITS AND POSSIBILITIES OF INDEPENDENCE

    In 70 weeks' time, each of us will give our own answer to the question - 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' and the nation, collectively, will decide.

    Over the next 70 weeks, people the length and breadth of the country will make up their minds on what is, undoubtedly, the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes. Many will change their minds – perhaps several times – before a final decision puts them in the Yes or the No camp.

    Each side will argue its case vigorously and with a determination to win. The campaign will be passionate, noisy and, at times, heated. That is exactly as it should be.

    But the division of opinion that is inevitable in a referendum - inevitable in any election - shouldn’t blind us to the fact that, Yes or No, Scotland is one country.

    Yes or No, we all care about the future of this nation. We all want the best for the people who live here.

    We have different views on how Scotland should move forward. But the day after the referendum, whatever the outcome, we will move forward together.

    I have no doubt that, if Scotland votes Yes, those on the No side - elected representatives like Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie - will be on Scotland's side, part of the team who will negotiate our independence. And Team Scotland will be stronger as a result.

    So, it is with an eye firmly on the day after the referendum that I say this to both sides of the campaign -

    We will all do everything in our power to bring about the outcome we desire – but let us also do everything in our power to make the campaign as good, as inspiring and as energising as it can be.

    The national opportunity we have over the next 70 weeks - the opportunity to imagine the kind of country we want to be and decide how we best equip ourselves to become that country - is a rare one, and we owe it to the country to rise to the challenge.

    Today I will set out the hallmarks of the Yes campaign. The distinctive features of our approach to winning the referendum.

    And, be in no doubt, win is what we intend to do.

    We have work to do, but our case is reasonable, rational and responsible.

    We believe that Scotland should be governed here at home, from our own Parliament not from Westminster; that we should build a new relationship of equals with our friends across these islands; that we should hold the powers in our own hands to shape a nation that lives up to our ambitions of fairness and prosperity; and that we should have no-one else to blame if we fail to do so.

    That is the vision that can win the argument and win the referendum.

    I am convinced – from talking to people across the country – that there is a natural majority in Scotland for independence. What do I mean by that? I mean that people will vote Yes if we can persuade them that it opens the door to a wealthier and fairer country.

    A poll published just last week showed that, even now, with 16 months to go, 47% will already vote Yes or be more likely to do so if we can persuade them that Scotland will be wealthier and fairer - compared to 45% who take the opposite stance.

    So my job - our job - is to give people the confidence to be optimistic about Scotland's future; to back ourselves to build a better Scotland. That is our task. 

    The approach of the Yes campaign will be to inform the debate, while being honest about the judgment Scotland has to make; to set out clearly both sides of the choice people face; and to focus always on the positive contribution Scotland has to make. These are the hallmarks of our campaign; our unique selling points.

    The No campaign won't match us - because their campaign depends on fostering a climate of fear and uncertainty, on ignoring the inevitable consequences for Scotland of continued Westminster government; and on talking down what Scotland has to offer.

    So, we will work hard to inform the debate - but we won't insult anyone's intelligence. People understand that there are uncertainties for Scotland – as there are for any country – whether we become independent or continue to be governed by Westminster. It is undoubtedly the case that certainty will be maximised if both the Scottish and UK Governments behave responsibly and agree to discuss now the negotiations that will follow if Scotland votes Yes.

    But there isn't always an absolute objective truth to be found on issues where negotiation and the policy choices of governments yet to be elected will help shape Scotland. There are facts that will be set out, of course, but the referendum will not simply be a contest of competing ‘facts’.

    Instead, when the Yes and No campaigns set out their stalls, people will be asked to make a qualitative judgment about which is more credible and compelling and about who they trust most with Scotland's future.

    Is it more or less likely that a government elected in Scotland will reflect the views and priorities of the Scottish people better than a remote government in Westminster that is all too often elected against the clear wishes of Scotland?

    Are we more or less likely to build a wealthier and fairer country by taking the powers over tax and welfare into our own hands rather than leaving them at Westminster?

    These are the judgments people will make.

    Our job is to inform those judgments and that process is already underway.

    A range of detailed information has been published already on the structure, platform and potential of an independent Scotland.

    In February, we published a detailed paper on the transition to independence - with a timescale described by one of the two legal experts who drafted the UK government's constitutional document as 'realistic' - and plans for a written constitution.

    The report of the Fiscal Commission Working Group has set out comprehensive and considered proposals for retaining sterling as the currency in an independent Scotland - a policy described by Alistair Darling as "desirable" and "logical" and supported by two-thirds of Scots.

    And a detailed balance sheet shows that Scotland can more than afford to be independent; that our finances are stronger than the UK's; that our share of Westminster's debt will be lower as a proportion of our national wealth than the UK's; that the tax take from Scotland has been higher in every single one of the last 30 years than it has been across the UK; and that pension and welfare costs are more affordable with independence.

    And over the next few months, we will publish reports on a range of issues including Scotland’s vast economic potential, welfare and pensions, financial services, defence and foreign affairs.

    The UK government is publishing its own papers - but it is already clear that their purpose is less to inform than to frighten.

    The inherent weakness in that approach, in my view, is not just that the politics of fear has a limited shelf life.

    It is that for the scare stories they tell to come to pass, the UK - presumably in a fit of pique after Scotland votes Yes - would have to act contrary to its own interests. That doesn't stand up to any serious scrutiny. And that's why the UK government won't sit down now and discuss, in a grown up way, the issues we will require to resolve between us after a Yes vote - something they would do if their concern was about informing the public rather than scoring partisan points.

    But they won't do it because they know as well as we do that sensible discussion, entered into in good faith, will demonstrate the common sense of our plans for Scotland's transition to independence and our continued relationship with our partners across the UK, and therefore strip them of their ability to peddle fear.

    I believe that, as we set out our case, people will increasingly see the tactics of the No campaign for what they are.

    The Yes campaign will also set out the clear choice that people face - the benefits of independence and the prospects for Scotland if we don't vote Yes.

    This referendum is more than just a decision between the status quo and independence – it is a choice between two very different futures.

    One in which we take the power to shape our future into our own hands and another where we leave that power in the hands of a Westminster establishment that is set on a political, social and economic path that most people in Scotland would not choose - austerity and cuts in social protection, privatisation of public services, and possible withdrawal from the EU.

    The No campaign won't set out that choice. They will attack the case for independence, but they won't be honest about the implications for Scotland of staying subject to Westminster government on issues like welfare, the economy and nuclear weapons.

    I'm told they have asked us 500 questions about independence. I welcome that. The more the focus is on the opportunities of independence, the better.

    But the fact is No has its own questions to answer. For people to make an informed choice about whether Scotland will be better off as an independent country, they need to know what the alternative is – what the future holds for Scotland in the UK.

    So, let me today ask some very direct questions of the No campaign.

    Questions about what will happen to Scotland if No gets its way.

    Let's call them the UK 2020 questions.

    Will the UK still be a member of the European Union in 2020?

    How much more means testing will have been introduced into the UK benefits system by 2020.

    What will the UK retirement age be in 2020?

    How many more children in Scotland will be living in poverty by 2020 as a result of Westminster welfare cuts?

    What will have happened by 2020 to funding for Scotland’s NHS, via the Barnett formula, as England’s NHS is increasingly privatised?

    Will there still be a bedroom tax in 2020?

    How many more billions of pounds will have been spent by Scottish taxpayers on keeping UK Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde?

    Will the UK still have a Human Rights Act in 2020 and, if not, what will the implications be for Scotland's distinctive legal system?

    Will the UK still be the 4th most unequal country in the developed world in 2020 or will it have moved closer to the top spot, with the gap between the richest and poorest even wider?

    Will Scotland’s long term economic growth rate still lag behind our competitors in 2020?

    Is there any guarantee that Scotland will have voted for the Westminster government that is in office in 2020 - or will it be yet another government elected against the wishes of the Scottish people?And will the Scottish Parliament have any additional powers, beyond those in the Scotland Act, by 2020 – and, if so, what will they be?

    To those in the No camp who say these questions can’t be answered because they depend on the policies of future governments, let me gently point out that exactly the same can be said of many of the 500 questions asked of the Yes campaign.

    And while the exact answers might be beyond reach at this time, the direction of travel for Scotland under continued Westminster government is all too clear.

    In relation to a No vote, this quote from our national bard Robert Burns sums it up best: "An' forward, tho' I canna see, I guess an' fear!"

    Ever greater cuts in public spending, a welfare state dismantled beyond recognition, people working longer for less, higher levels of child poverty, a growing gap between rich and poor, billions more wasted on nuclear weapons and no real prospect of any more powers for our parliament.

    That is the bleak prospect of sticking with Westminster government - and that’s why a No vote is a real gamble with Scotland's future. A massive gamble with our children's future.

    There is a better way. Scotland 2020 can be a better place. It won't happen overnight. We will need to work at it, use the powers and the resources at our disposal to change things for the better.

    But it can be done.

    Take social protection. We know the welfare state is under attack by Westminster like never before. And we know that welfare is more affordable in Scotland than in the UK, not less.

    Independence will give us the chance to recast our social security system for the future. To see it - alongside our NHS and our education system - as the commitment we make to each other in a mutual society, a way of helping people to live full and independent lives, to help people into work, but also to make sure they have a safety net when they can't. A system that supports a growing economy, not one that is written off as a drain on it.

    That will take time - but, make no mistake, it can only be done with independence.

    And we will be able to make some changes immediately.

    A few weeks ago, I pledged that an SNP government in an independent Scotland would scrap the bedroom tax.

    Today I am making the second in a series of announcements that will set out our intention to undo the worst impacts of the Tory welfare cuts, particularly as they affect women and children.

    The new universal credit system discriminates against women. It undermines the independence of women. Unlike the current system, which makes payments to individual claimants, it will be paid in one single household amount - which will more often than not mean to the man in a household. And because it applies a single earnings disregard when people move into work, it reduces the incentive to work for second earners in a household - who will usually be women.

    So when a woman, whose partner already works, gets a job, she will gain very little in return - her marginal tax rate will be upwards of 60%.

    It is no wonder that Universal Credit has been described as reinforcing the notion of the male breadwinner - a concept that is outdated and totally out of touch with the reality of many modern families.

    So, I can confirm today that we would move away from single household payments and give women back the ability to receive support in their own right. And we would equalise the earnings disregard between first and second earners, making work more attractive for women, more rewarding for women and more likely to lift children out of poverty. 

    It is just one, very specific change, but the start of a series of policy announcements that, over the months to come, will illustrate clearly and vividly the benefits and possibilities of independence.

    Because the fundamental difference between Yes and No is this: No leaves these choices in the hands of Westminster governments – Westminster governments that all too often Scotland doesn’t vote for.

    It is only with Yes, with the powers of independence, that Scotland can decide our policies in these and all other areas according to the votes and views of the people who live and work here.

    It is only with a Yes vote that we get a parliament and government 100% accountable to all those living and working in Scotland. That is the essence of independence.

    It is why I so passionately want Scotland to vote Yes next year.

    But, whatever the outcome of the referendum, I also want Scotland to emerge from it as a more confident and self-assured country.

    And that is why the Yes campaign will always be positive about Scotland and about the ties that bind us - the ties will always bind us, no matter our constitutional arrangements - to our families, friends and partners across these islands.

    What I find deeply troubling about the No campaign is not its opposition to independence - it is absolutely legitimate for anyone to argue that Scotland is better off staying with Westminster government, if that is what they believe.

    What troubles me is the No campaign's apparent willingness to paint Scotland as the poor relation that would have nothing to bring to the table as an independent nation. When they say that Westminster wouldn’t want us in a currency union, or the EU wouldn’t want us as members, they write off at a stroke the massive resources, talents and attributes that mean that we would - in reality - be a welcome member of the international community and a valued partner to our friends across these islands.

    Yes, we will have to pay our way and drive hard bargains – but we will do so with the massive advantages we have as a nation and we will be able to speak with our own voice to better protect our own interests.

    To suggest otherwise seems to me to wilfully diminish the country and all that we are for purely partisan reasons.

    So there is no doubt that an emerging divide in the referendum debate is between those of us who attach merit and value to Scotland in its own right, and those whose case appears, increasingly, to devalue what Scotland has to offer.

    Indeed, one of the great ironies of the referendum debate so far is that the tone and content of the No campaign is actually the antithesis of the traditional case for the Union in Scotland.

    The theory of Unionism from 1707 through to the 20th century - although not the actual Scottish experience - was that Scotland was an equal partner within a wider venture, just as good and just as worthwhile as our larger neighbour south of the Border.

    But the entire approach of the No campaign disparages and destroys that notion.

    Given that the core content and arguments of the No campaign are based on material produced by a Tory government at Westminster - with George Osborne in the driving seat -  that should come as no great surprise.

    But the fact is that the entire No campaign appears to have completely abandoned any pretence that the Union is about an equal partnership between Scotland and England.

    According to their notion of 'Union', an independent Scotland is not equal at all - according to them, we have no entitlement to the shared assets of the UK, such as the currency and central bank - though we would be expected to shoulder our share of the national debt!

    Presumably it is this thinking that led the UK government to publish a paper earlier this year suggesting that Scotland had been "extinguished" in 1707. But the ideology of Union - if not the reality - was that, far from being extinguished in 1707, Scotland was enhanced as a partner with England.

    No seems to have abandoned any pretence of believing in that idea - and it is why as a campaign it is empty and disconnected and, when the scares no longer work, will find itself with nowhere else to go.

    Ironically, but significantly, the Scottish aspiration to equality of status which is daily disparaged by the No campaign is what the Union was meant to establish but didn't. And, today, by openly denouncing the very notion of equal status within the UK, the No campaign is proving the point that only a Yes vote can and will deliver equality for Scotland.

    In that and so many other senses, independence represents a continuation of Scotland's journey as a nation.

    Independence is the right choice for the 21st century.

    Our job over the next 70 weeks is to persuade and inspire people across Scotland to make that choice.

    And I believe that people do want to be inspired to vote Yes, not frightened into voting No. That is our opportunity.

    So, our task from this day forward is to lift the campaign out of the foothills of fear that others want it to languish in. To lift it to a new height where we can see clearly the choice that is before us and the possibilities that independence opens up.

    The Yes campaign will be one of optimism and aspiration. It will represent the best of Scotland. That is why I believe it can win and will win - and when it does, Scotland will never look back.

    END OF SPEECH

    (N.B. All emphases, italicisation, etc. are mine, and represent my view of significance. They were not present in the SNP transcription of Nicola’s speech.)

    Saturday, 11 May 2013

    YES campaign becalmed or going backwards? Angus Macleod and Gerry Hassan on Good Morning Scotland

    Angus Macleod: "The SNP and the YES Campaign have been unable to answer the questions the electorate are asking."

    The SNP and the YES Campaign ARE answering the questions the electorate are asking, Angus - in policy papers, online, on the media, on the doorsteps, in leaflets and information sheets.
    What they are not doing is answering the Unionist press version of what the electorate are asking, or more accurately, what you would like them to ask - negative questions with a closed agenda. And of course, your paper, The Times, and the others have no interest in publishing the real answers and facts given.

    We are in a war of facts and ideals - I know what side you are on and what side I am on, and I and thousands like me are working tirelessly to get the real answers and the true facts out to the Scottish electorate, who, as you rightly say, are intelligent - and will listen and evaluate.

    Gerry Hassan: "Basically, I think the SNP are in the wrong strategy, wrong question, wrong timescale."

    Angus Macleod: "Gerry's absolutely right .."

    Well, that was really helpful, Gerry - advanced the cause of independence no end ... acting as straight man, feeding lines to The Unionist Times correspondent.

    Wednesday, 8 May 2013

    Confessions of a Cybernat.

    I would have liked to title this blog I Was a Teenage Cybernat – just like the ‘B’ movies of the 1970s – but I wasn’t, because I wasn’t a nationalist back then and there was no cyberspace outside of science fiction.

    But now I must acknowledge the fact – I am what I am – a nationalist who uses cyberspace to try and get the independence message across. These days just about everyone under forty-five is a cyber-something-or-other, together with an increasing percentage of the older population.

    The term is used pejoratively, like separatist, to beg the question, i.e. try to induce a conclusion without advancing any evidence. It is an attempt to stereotype a group, a class – rather like racist terminology.

    It has been used in many ways, but rather spectacularly this week to justify the use of racist terminology on Twitter – a kind of double whammy.

    The Ian Smart Affair doesn’t have the memorable theme song of The Thomas Crown Affair, nor the charismatic, glamorous leading man (if it had, it would be The Wind Turbines that upset the Nimbys) but it has Byzantine twists and turns to the plot that would have stretched the credibility of a Hollywood scriptwriter, with unlikely critics, allies, heroes, heroines and villains. The stellar cast included a Scottish Labour Lord and former First Minister of Scotland, a radio phone-in host, the indomitable – and anonymous - Gordon of Dundee, a host of powerful women, a quite a few spear carriers like myself – bit players in the drama – and mighty BBC.

    Since the protagonist is a lawyer, well-connected and a past President of the Law Society of Scotland, I must choose my words carefully in describing the events that followed a tweet by Ian Smart. I don’t intend to go over the tweet and the ones that followed it – they’re all a matter of record – other than to say Ian Smart’s intention appeared to be to suggest that attacks by fellow Scots on two ethnic groups - members of the Scottish Polish and Pakistani community - would follow if an independent Scotland did not prosper economically.

    This tweet was picked up by a number of late evening tweeters, including myself, who after initial horrified astonishment, tried to persuade Ian Smart to delete the offending words, something he was patently not prepared to do at that point.

    What followed over subsequent days served to highlight the complexities of the great independence debate, and in particular, differences of opinion on how those committed to independence should react to the Smart tweets. I would identify three main strands in this – those who felt that it was a significant event and must be countered forcefully, those who felt that it should be ignored so as not to frighten the horses, and voices from Women for Independence who felt that acrimonious exchanges that were predominantly – but not exclusively – male (there was talk of testosterone in the air!) served as a turn-off to the female demographic among the Scottish electorate, a group that is vital to a YES vote.

    (The little that’s left of my testosterone was pumping as best it could, and I was – and am – firmly in the counter forcefully brigade.)

    By any normal journalistic standards, this was a story, and a story with legs. But normal journalistic standards rarely prevail in the pre-independence Scottish media, and I and others feared the worst. It was pretty evident that a dilemma existed for the Better Together media, or at least those embedded within in it in various roles ranging from proprietors through producers and editors to media presenters and journalists, namely, that the villains in cyberspace were firmly cast as nationalists – independence supporters – the cybernats – and Unionist Central Casting would be reluctant to induct a prominent member of the No Campaign into the plot as a villain. Quite simply, it didn’t fit the script

    So, fending off as best I could suggestions and mini-attacks from what I had thought of as my own side, I waited for the media. In one sense, I was pleasantly surprised!

    Four newspapers carried the story – on 7th May, the Scottish Sun, the Scottish Express and eventually today the Herald  and The Scotsman. Last night, Scotland Tonight carried the item in a discussion between Ian Smart and Natalie McGarry. Most bizarrely, Call Kaye carried the item inadvertently, to the evident horror of Kaye Adams, thanks to the formidable Gordon of Dundee, a caller who intended to do what he thought he had been invited on air to do – talk about the implications of prominent figures in Scottish Society behaving badly.

    Kaye Adams, who has been presenting her BBC phone-in programme five days a week for many years, and is a presumably a weel-kent frequenter of BBC studios, said she didn’t know Ian Smart - a prominent lawyer, former President of the Scottish Law Society, Labour activist and frequent presence on BBC programmes such as Newsnight Scotland.

    BBC Scotland, astonishingly to me, but all too predictably to its many critics, appears to have considered the story as either being beneath its notice, or beyond the pale for some other reason. I could, of course, have missed some vital news item of discussion …

    Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    Man or Myth – a strange article in Radio Times this week

    Radio Times carries a full page article on page 25 headed 'Man or Myth’ by Dr. Fiona Watson of Dundee University in a Q&A format, talking to James Gill of Radio Times. The rationale for commissioning this appears to be a link to ‘Bloody Tales’ screened on Monday next by National Geographic channel.

    Dr. Watson’s final comment ‘Braveheart is more fiction than  fact ..’ etc. makes reference to Alex Salmond, the SNP, xenophobia, anti-English sentiment and devolution. I have emailed Dr. Watson, a respected historian - whom I am sure has no political motivation in making such comments – to point out that neither Alex Salmond, the SNP nor the independence movement is  anti-English or xenophobic and has never sought to endorse or exploit the ‘Braveheart’ film, with all its manifest Hollywood inaccuracies.

    I have also observed that the SNP and the independence movement celebrates William Wallace as a great Scottish historical figure (as do most Scots) who is most certainly not a myth, and I have referred her to the words of the great English historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, the great nephew of  Macaulay and the last historian writing in the Whig traditions, and the following extract from his History of England(1937) -

    “A guerrilla chief of genius, a tall man of iron strength, who suddenly appears on the page of history, as if from nowhere, defeated at Stirling Bridge an English Army under its blundering feudal chief, the Earl of Warenne, of quo Warranto fame. Thence William Wallace broke ravaging into Northumberland and Cumberland.

    This unknown knight, with little but his great name to identify him in history, had lit a fire which nothing since has ever put out.

    Here, in Scotland, contemporaneously with very similar doings in Switzerland, a new ideal and tradition of wonderful potency was brought into the world; it had no name then, but now we should call it democratic patriotism. It was not the outcome of theory. The unconscious qualities of a people had given it reality in a sudden fit of rage. “