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Showing posts with label Daily Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Politics. Show all posts

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Full fiscal Autonomy - and all that stuff ...

Full fiscal autonomy (FFA) – or as SNP would now have it, full fiscal responsibility (FFR) is now the Westminster unionist politician’s favourite topic with which to bait SNP MPs. In this, they are ably assisted by the media, with The Daily Politics’ Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn acting as straight man/woman to the likes of a sneering, sniggering Michael Forsyth, as in this clip.

It never seems to have entered their heads to have a look at what it means, or more specifically, what it meant in the context of the independence referendum and what it means now in the context of a NO win on  September 18th 2014, the Smith Commission proposals and the SNP’s astonishing electoral triumph in the general election on May 7th 2015.

But why do the hard thinking and the hard work when it’s more fun to assist Westminster unionists - especially failed Scottish politicians who are now unelected Lords - to giggle and gurn, shouting “Cowardy custard! You wanted it in 2011 through to 2014 – you wanted it after The Vow. Had you won the Referendum, you claimed you would have been fully independent on March 24th 2016. Why don’t you want it now, immediately! When do you want it? Tell us, tell us …”

Let me do the work for them – unpaid and unsung as always – offering a service to democracy and to rich media pundits, sundry Lords and politicians, a gift from a simple old Scottish voter, a humble Glesca slum boy – pause to brush away a sentimental tear … (VOICE OFF: “Oh, **** off, Peter!”)

FULL FISCAL AUTONOMY

Independence confers full fiscal autonomy automatically – well, it would, wouldn’t it? But what is it?

Had we (the YES component of Scotland’s electorate) won the referendum, it would have come with everything else that full independence brings – full autonomy on every aspect of the governance of Scotland, with all the benefits and risks that independence brings.

The nub of the present argument and the childish Bullingdon Boys farce being enacted in a forum near you hinges on a key question – asked superficially but without any wish to receive a detailed answer. The question is -

What is the difference between full fiscal autonomy as it would have resulted from a YES vote in September 2014 and full fiscal autonomy in the June 2015 context of a historical NO vote and and SNP landslide on May 7th 2015?

What is it? It’s setting and raising our own taxes – all of them – and spending the money thus raised as we see fit.

In the context of the independence referendum - and the context of the Scottish, UK, European and global economy circa Sept 2014 - had we won a YES vote, negotiations – wide-ranging, complex negotiations on every aspect of Scotland independence, including fiscal autonomy would have commenced, with both rUk and Scottish negotiating teams, backed by experts and advisors from the civil service and academia, bargaining on a huge range on inter-locking and inter-dependent issues, defining the nature of the post-independence relationship between Scotland and rUK and, after a heads of agreement was reached in April/May 2016, then devising complex plans to implement that negotiated agreement.

By definition, those plans and their implementation processes (although realistically the Treasury and the Civil Service would have to some degree prepared the ground in parallel with the negotiations) could not have properly started until final agreement was reached in the spring of 2016. The full implementation of the plans would continue for possibly years after Independence Day 24th March 2016.

Of course, bang in the middle of those negotiations, we would have had the general election campaign of April/May 2015, with Parliament prorogued, no government, and major, unpredictable – and a badly predicted(!) outcome.

But we would have dealt with it. After all, countries declare UDI, gain independence by bloody or velvet  revolutions or other means,  still manage to survive - so we’d have been OK, even with the oil price collapse. We’d have had a currency union or we wouldn’t, and then have had our own currency under one of  the Fiscal Commission viable alternative options – plans B,C,D and E of blessed memory – which may well still be relevant after 2016!

What’s different now, in June 2015? Well, even to a boneheaded or disingenuous unionist anxious to make a superficial point, there are three key differences -

1. We lost the Referendum, and FFA would not be implemented in the context of Scotland being an independent nation.

2. It’s not 2011 or even 2014 – the economic situation and the global economy has changed – crude oil price have nosedived, a EU Referendum looms, with Brexit as possibility.

3. The general election result was predicted by no one, and Scotland is a dramatically different place politically than in September 2014.

In other words, Scotland, the UK, Europe and the world have changed, and only fools hang on to plans that events have made out-dated. So what does FFA mean in the June 2015 context?

FFA post-June 2015 – implementation and timeframe

Instead of getting the  block grant (the proportion of our taxes UK deigns to return to us) from the UK Exchequer as at present, the Scottish Parliament would receive all taxation levied in Scotland and be responsible for most of its spending in accordance with its own priorities.

Scotland would pay  to the UK government Scotland's share of the cost of providing defined UK-wide services, including defence spending and conduct of foreign affairs. In other words, it would be Scottish fiscal autonomy, but not full political independence. It would still be controlled by rUK in significant areas.

That would involve a negotiating agenda with significantly different priorities from the same negotiations as part of an independence mandate, as would have been the case in a different outcome to September 18th 2014 – and those negotiations would have had radically different dynamics even if the economic situation, the global economy and the price of crude oil had remained the same or risen.

So even if the new Tory government, with their shaky majority and divided party and confusion over Brexit, human rights and immigration policy, were to offer full fiscal autonomy tomorrow, there would have to be a lengthy period of negotiation about the exact nature of its terms and  implementation.

Of course they have no intention of doing any such thing, and while it’s tempting to call their bluff and say “We’ll have it, right now, thank you ..”, that would be a nonsensical response, and just about as infantile as the wee Laird o’ Drumlean’s schoolboy posturing on Daily Politics today.

So away and birl in yer kilt, Michael Forsyth, and if ye birl fast enough, yer wee heid might wind up in that portion of yer anatomy where it’s best fitted tae be,  oot o’ mischief’s way …

Monday, 6 October 2014

2014AR and GE2015 – a countdown to UK chaos - unless 30+ YES MPs are returned to Westminster

Two unelected LibDem peers, overheads on the body politic, Baroness Kramer and Paddy Ashdown duck and weave, bluster and attempt to patronise in the face of Andrew Neil's simple question - "How will you pay for your pledges?" Their repertoire of question avoidance tactics can only be described as virtuosic,

These are the same kind of people as the Westminster legions who demanded to know - from 2011 - how the SNP was going to cost, in minute detail, the setting up of a new state after 18 months of negotiation with a hostile rUK Government, Europe and NATO in May 2016!

Yet less than seven months from a UK general election in 2015, they can say nothing - NOTHING - about how THEY will cost their extravagant fantasy policies.

Add to this an amnesiac Miliband, who 'forgot' to mention the deficit, and a distraught and confused Cameron. God help the Great Britain the Scottish NO voters unwisely preserved, in all its tottering incompetence and venality.

And there's the little matter of a war that will undoubtedly escalate in costs - death and destruction - and a referendum that will take us out of the EU.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

My response to an email on a Blair Jenkins/Jo Coburn Daily Politics interview

DIRECT EMAIL TO ME TODAY

I recently came across the Bella Caledonia website and have been reading a few articles. 

I was born in Glasgow and lived there until I was 21, when I moved to London. This was in 1978, when the IMF had to bail out the UK under the Labour government. The point of my email is not to discuss party politics or the Referendum, but to take issue with your description of the above interview.

Blair Jenkins is described in almost saintly terms, rising above the endless interruptions of the interviewer. That isn't what I saw from the extract on your website. He certainly remained calm, but refused to answer the question that he was asked regarding how Scotland would deal with the panic that would arise in the markets in the event of a 'Yes' victory. That was the reason for interruption by Jo Coburn.

The other interviewees were given their allocated time to put forward their point of view. I wasn't aware of any 'spluttering' or 'raving' from any of them. They were each interrupted by Jo Coburn while they were speaking. I think Jo Coburn was even handed and each individual made their points well.

Looking through the BC website, I'm left with the impression that all the contributors are preaching to the converted, so they can employ insults to anyone with whom they don't agree. I think the arguments have to be won on their merits and not by insulting and demeaning the opposition.

Regards

Clair (surname witheld by me – happy to publish it if Claire so wishes!)

Claire,

Thanks for your email.

The question "How would Scotland deal with the panic that would arise in the markets in the event of a 'Yes' victory" is a loaded question. No politician or political activist, indeed, no sensible person would answer it, because it is pejoratively loaded with a negative assumption - answering involves accepting  a false premise.

I have spent my life as a professional negotiator - I am an expert at framing, asking -and answering questions. This question type is known to American negotiators as the "Have you stopped stealing apples?" question and to UK negotiators as the "Have you stopped beating you wife?" question.

Competent interviewers don't need to plays such puerile games - they elicit information more successfully by properly framed questions.

The Scottish referendum debate has been characterised by the most disgraceful behaviour of any media group in any democratic country in the world. The BBC - and especially their insulated metropolitan commentators - locked in the Westminster Village bubble, have been particularly egregious in this.

Blair Jenkins is a senior media journalist and manager by profession and background - he is not saintly - he is a calm, courteous man who knows his profession. He has transformed a group of volunteers from an enthusiastic, but uncoordinated group into the greatest political campaign Britain has ever seen in its long, disreputable history. Right now, some 35,000 of them are active across Scotland to secure our country's independence on the 18th of September.

It's a neck and neck race, and on Friday morning we'll know the democratic decision of the Scottish electorate. I hope it is a YES, and if it is, I will give Blair Jenkins my heartfelt thanks and congratulations for his pivotal contribution in making Scotland the world's newest independent country, joining the family of more than 200 independent countries across the globe.

regards,

Monday, 8 September 2014

The money markets panic – polls and scaremongering, plus currency union lunacy prime causes …

Financial Times headline: " Pro-union camp ‘in chaos’ as poll puts nationalists ahead"  As George Robertson might say "cataclysmic" ...

Better Together has the Worst of Both Worlds - behind in polls, sterling scaremongering causes pound to drop, hurting their rich city friends!

The latest Better Together strategy appears to be to tell voters Westminster has ****** the £ by scaremongering and lunacy on CU - so vote No. G-sus!

Jo Coburn thinks it's all Blair Jenkins' fault, asking questions and interrupting frantically at every second word. Blair is quietly amused, dusts her off with impeccable politeness, then waits calmly for Unionist panellists to rave impotently.

 Blair Jenkins smiles seraphically, taking  occasional sips at his coffee, as Jo Coburn's guests splutter inanely and impotently over polls, markets  and independence.

King Impotent Splutterer himself, Ming Campbell, failed leader of a failed party in a failing Coalition - doubtless a "A proud Scot" -  does his share, indignation and gloom oozing from him.

Blair gives a neat little summation and says bye-bye. Jo switches with relief to the triviality of the Daily Quiz.

That was fun!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A real Scottish soldier talks to someone who talks about Scottish soldiers …

Keith Brown, a Falklands veteran, trounces Ming Campbell in Daily Politics debate on Scotland's armed Forces after Philip Hammond's hit and run attack today on Scotland's capacity to defend itself.

(As far as I know, Ming never served in the armed forces, but  his connection to them - and to the British Establishment opposed to Scotland's independence - could lie in his marriage to Elspeth, Lady Grant-Suttie, daughter of Major General Roy Urquhart. )

His arguments, such as they were, seemed to rely on defence-as-job-creation scheme and his blind belief that young Scots wouldn't want to serve in a Scottish Regiment defending Scotland.

He was also gratuitously offensive to Scots (not to mention other countries of equivalent size) in suggesting that a Scottish defence force would be no more than a militia. Tell that to the marines, Ming.

In fact, you just did - to a real soldier and a marine - Keith Brown MSP

Friday, 4 October 2013

Scotland – the Invisible Country (from the perspective of BBC Daily Politics and UK educational Establishment)

There is only one Daily Politics programme on BBC, and it purports to address the whole of the UK.

There is a Sunday Politics and a Sunday Politics Scotland, from the same Andrew Neil stable, and there is a Newsnight and a Newsnight Scotland, to the all-too evident frustration of Jeremy Paxman.

Under normal circumstance, one would therefore expect the Daily Politics to reflect Scottish affairs regularly, in proportion to population at least, and to pick up on Scottish stories of special interest to Scotland and the UK as a whole. After all, the first B in BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation!

But we are most certainly not in normal circumstance – we are living in perhaps a uniquely challenging period of history for the integrity of Britain - i.e. UK  - as a political entity. Scotland is 348 days away from a referendum that will determine, not only the future of Scotland but of the United Kingdom, and which will have major implications for the EU, for Scandinavia and for US/UK NATO strategy.

A YES vote will effectively end UK, the British Empire and quite possibly spell the end of the UK nuclear deterrent.

THE DAILY POLITICS 4th October 2013

Today’s Daily Politics addressed the impact of tuition fees on UK universities and students. I repeat - on UK universities and students.

This was evidenced by the presence of Dr. Wendy Piatt of The Russell Group (“Our universities are to be found in all four nations and in every major city of the UK”), Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK (“Universities UK has offices in Edinburgh (Universities Scotland”) and Toni Pearce of the National Union of Students (“We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95% of all higher and further education unions in the UK”)

One of the great policy divides, reflecting widely different social values and priorities of two nations growing increasingly further apart – Scotland and England – is tuition fees and education policy.

1. There are no tuition fees in Scotland.

2. There will be no tuition fees in a devolved Scotland while the SNP is in government.

3. It is almost a negligible possibility that there could ever be tuition fees in an independent Scotland, regardless of which party or coalition governed. (The likelihood of a Tory Government regaining power in independent Scotland with a policy of tuition fees is zero.)

4. Free education in Scotland poses major problems for the UK Government and impacts on the EU and the world – the world comes to Scotland to be educated.

Despite this, the Daily Politics managed an entire 14 minutes discussion, (preceded by a report) chaired by Jo Coburn, without once mentioning Scotland (except for a fleeting mention of “their English members” at  1m30s mark) despite the presence of three representatives whose organisations and roles purport to have a UK-wide remit, and who have Scottish universities and students as members.

There are only two credible explanations for this extraordinary omission -

The BBC, the Daily Politics - and the participants and organisations they represent - regard Scotland as a marginal region somewhere north of the Watford gap which merits no real attention whatsoever.

or

To discuss the reality of the situation would have pointed up one important aspect of the widening gulf between Scotland and England and would have assisted the cause of a YES vote.

If this is the contempt in which Scotland is held before the 2014 referendum, one can imagine all to clearly the utter contempt in which it would be held after a  No vote.

Vote Yes for Scotland!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Jo Coburn demolishes a Grayling and buries a Fox




A superb, perfectly judged example of what a political interview should be. When BBC political interviewers challenge the powerful, they should always do it as effectively as this.

The choice of Chris Grayling to champion Liam Fox's cause was profoundly misconceived - his involvement with Atlantic Bridge should have been enough to ring the warning bells. He was probably selected for his emollient personality and style - another misjudgement, since this was his undoing - a champion with a lance made of putty.

With friends like this, Fox needs no enemies ...