ANDREW MARR: "We are in circumstances right now, where during the lifetime of the Parliament at Westminster that we are about to elect, it's perfectly possible at least, that Scotland and England will finally go their separate ways."
Sunday, 12 April 2015
Sunday, 8 February 2015
I wrote this letter to the Herald on 17th of March 2003. I was then, at least still nominally a supporter of the Labour Party, as I had been all my life and as my family had been.
The war against Iraq began three days later on March 20th 2003 with the U.S. launch of the bombing raid on Baghdad - Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Never in my life have I more wanted to be wrong in a prediction, but what followed unleashed unimaginable death and devastation that lasted from 2003 –2011, beyond my worst imaginings - and, in a very real sense, is not over yet.
The long slow death of Scottish Labour began in March 2003, in significant part due to their moral cowardice at that pivotal moment in history. New Labour – the creation of Blair, Brown and Mandelson seemed to die in 2010, but the rough beast is stirring again, slouching towards Westminster.
My letter, published in The Herald, 17th of March 2003.
Seventeen and a half per cent of the UK population are children of 15 years of age or younger. (Source of data – CIA website)41% of the Iraqi population are children o 15 years of age or younger. (Source - CIA website)
Therefore in any “collateral damage” to innocent civilians, 41 children will die or be maimed in every 100. (My source for these statistics - CIA website).
To add to the misery of the Iraqi children already hurt by Saddam Hussein and our sanctions will be an international crime.
Much has been made of Tony Blair’s “sincere conviction” over his stance on Iraq. If sincerity of conviction was the touchstone, the actions of any misguided politician in history could be justified. I hesitate to offer a list of those who pursued policies destructive to justice and life who were “sincere” in their conviction, but produced horrific consequences by their actions.
This coming war is profoundly misconceived and unjust, and Tony Blair is profoundly mistaken to pursue it.
He has wrecked our relationship with our European allies, damaged our international status, weakened our democratic and parliamentary traditions, has perhaps delivered a damaging blow to the Labour Party, and will undoubtedly damage our economy and our security.
As for Scotland’s MSPs supporting Blair's action by their contemptible inaction – don’t look for my vote (Labour for more than four decades) in the May elections.
I now know where the politicians of principle are – a tiny minority in the Scottish Labour group, and a majority in the SSP and the SNP. My advice to the few MSPs of principle left in the Scottish Parliament is to cross the floor now.
Iraq has become the defining political issue of our time, and the question that will be asked of politicians (and all of us) is – where were you when there was still time to stop it?
Monday, 1 December 2014
Lord Smith of Kelvin - self-deprecating and modest about his role - appeared before the media in the National Museum of Scotland at around 9 o’clock on 27th November - flanked by the politician members of the Commission and key advisors - to announce that a deal had been arrived at on more powers for Scotland.
The BBC lead-in to this at 9.03 quoted from the multitude of leaks, hyping up the impending revelations by describing them as “the biggest transfer of powers since devolution began 15 years ago”, a factually accurate statement, but also the key UK propaganda sound byte attempting to airbrush out the the starkly evident fact that the powers fell far, far short of the various versions of The Vow, which ranged from vague promises through devomax to home rule and near-federalism, depending on which “promise” the electorate of Scotland listened to, in the last days of the referendum campaign.
Let’s take a step back and take a hard look at genesis of The Smith Commission …
THE SMITH COMMISSION
September: a single poll shows YES Campaign ahead for first time and throws the Unionist parties, Westminster, the British Establishment and the unionist media, i.e. virtually all of the media, into blind panic.
The YES Scotland campaign could actually win! Desperate measures were clearly called for. Cometh the panic, cometh the lies, cometh the media - and the man …
Having opposed the second question and ignored the blindingly obvious lessons of polls throughout the entire campaign - that there was a solid majority of Scots and Scottish institutions that wanted far great powers but within the UK - they faced a dilemma: how to belatedly capitalise on this whilst retaining sovereign control over Scotland and avoiding giving anything of significance away that could strike at the very concept of the Union.
Their solution, albeit panic-driven - and ignoring the UK-wide impact on the rUK electorate in the run-up to the 2015 General election - was to make non-specific yet sweeping promises of more powers in a way that could be controlled, watered down, and ideally kicked into the long, long Westminster and Whitehall grass after a NO vote.
(I was tweeting suspiciously about devo max, Civic Scotland and more powers as long ago as July 2012)
The plan arrived at was crude – but it worked. The Scottish unionist parties already had positions on more powers, albeit differing widely. The big question was not what the parties individually wanted, but whether they could get their act together, then persuade their Westminster party masters to endorse something nebulous but seductive before 18th September.
A compliant media channel was required to act as cheerleader. What better one than The Daily Record?
Now all that was needed to administer a coup-de-grace to YES hopes (by convincing the wavering Don’t Knows and the soft NOes) was a blunt instrument, in the form of someone who held -
no position in Better Together
no Government position
no Shadow Cabinet position
- a powerful voice who had no authority to commit anything on behalf of anyone, and who could be safely repudiated if things went pear-shaped with the rUK electorate.
And there he was, growling, pacing and posturing in the wings, moral compass needle swinging wildly in all directions, desperate for a platform – banker of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, proponent of light-touch banking regulation and the architect of the collapse of the UK economy – Gordon Brown.
It worked. The Referendum was lost, Better Together won by a comfortable margin, and joy was unbounded in the British Establishment, the House of Lords, NATO, the Pentagon, the White House, the Ministry of Defence, the nuclear industry, hedge-fund managers and dodgy bankers and just about every right-wing European country – and perhaps even the Vatican?
But the piper, in the form of the electorate, had to be paid after a NO vote - the Vow had to appear to be fulfilled, since it was manifestly impossible to fulfil it without defenestrating the Union. But the plan was already in motion …
A respected Scottish figure had to be found, and a confidential approach was made to Lord Smith of Kelvin before the referendum. He accepted. The task was formidable, but the appointment was not a poisoned chalice, because if he succeeded in achieving a consensus recommendation from the Scottish Parties including the independence parties – no mean feat – Lord Smith could then pass the chalice to Westminster, job done and conscience clear.
Then, and only then, would the chalice contents undergo a transformation into a drink that would enter the system of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish electorates and run in potentially toxic rivulets through the constitutional structure and the very heart of the Westminster system, even the very concept of Union itself.
SMITH COMMISSION BASIS
The Commission was set up by Cameron to consult widely then attempt to broker a consensus between representatives of the five political parties in the devolved Scottish Government on what additional powers should be granted to Scotland following a NO vote. Their recommendations would then be to the three leaders of the main UK parties, who were pre-committed by the Vow (and now by the terms of reference of the Smith Commission) to take the recommendations set out in the agreement and turn them into law.
The five party representatives de facto formed two blocs – the pro-independence bloc (2) and the Unionist block (3) and to be present at all, they had to fully accept the terms of reference set by Government for the Commission: recognition that Westminster Parliament was sovereign and crucially, that nothing in the submission would disadvantage rUK.
Since the prime reason the UK opposed Scottish independence was the undeniable fact that Scotland leaving the Union would damage the UK in fundamental areas : its world status, the nuclear deterrent, defence, economic and social policy – if they persisted with the centre-right consensus policies of the three unionist parties and their concept of foreign affairs and strategic defence – the likelihood of new powers even approximating to the wild promises of the VOW was close to zero.
After all, wasn’t that exactly why the Second Question had been blocked by the UK Government?
SMITH: CHOICES FACED BY SNP/GREENS BLOC
In his foreword to his 27th November Report, Lord Smith reiterated what the purpose of the Commission had been.
Scotland voted ‘No’, but it did so with each of the three main UK parties promising more powers for the Scottish Parliament. I was asked to lead a Commission, working with the five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament, to agree what those new powers should be.
The words I have highlighted in red should, of course, have read
..to agree what we, the Scottish Parliament representatives, think those new powers ought to be, and then submit our consensus view to the British Government and sovereign UK Parliament in the hope that they will ratify them.
The reality of this for the Unionist bloc of three was that nothing could be submitted that hadn’t been cleared at every step of the way with Westminster, however that was done – overtly or covertly. The idea that the Commission would deliberate in monastic seclusion, only revealing their consensus to an admiring world on 27th November was always risible, as leaks and last minute events demonstrated.
The Smith recommendations required a UK imprimatur before they were released, not after.
The Commission was always going to be an adversarial multi-party negotiation, with Lord Smith as mediator. Whether the party representatives were equipped for such a complex negotiating process is an open question.
I will not speculate on what the Greens choice’s were, nor how they viewed them. But the SNP’s choices were starkly simple – they could boycott the Commission a la Calman or agree to participate. If they agreed to participate, they were agreeing to negotiate, and by definition, to surrender part of their best opening position, i.e.
The SNP continue to advocate Scottish independence, and believe that Scotland will one day become an independent country. But of course we accept the referendum result, which means that independence is not part of the Commission's considerations. We wish formally to associate ourselves with the 34-page set of proposals sent today by the Scottish Government, and which I enclose herewith
If such a seemingly inevitable set of compromises were made, the SNP/Green bloc was accepting that a deal had been struck and, subject only to the over-arching qualifier that they believed that “Scotland will one day become an independent country” they were honour-bound to stand behind any deal they made.
The clear alternative, implicit in any negotiation, was deadlock followed by breakdown and walking away from the table.
However the political choices made this seemingly simple strategy more complex. Let’s examine the possible scenarios resulting from this choice.
If the SNP had refused to participate in the Smith Commission, the Unionist block would simply have met, deliberated, and reached a consensus recommendation to Westminster. (It is just barely arguable that the three unionist parties might not have reached a consensus, and fragmented into a Labour versus Coalition deadlock. That would have been interesting …)
The SNP would then have been presented as bad losers, immature politicians, sulking on the sidelines of the new, post-referendum game.
In my view, they made the right choice – to participate, to play the game and accept La Règle du jeu (Jean Renoir 1939).
However, the rules of the negotiating game also include the possibility of deadlock and breakdown, and a requirement that, faced with a bad deal and the failure of the process to satisfy crucial negotiating objectives, the SNP must walk out of the negotiation.
That scenario, albeit undesirable, was a viable one for the SNP. It was, after all, what most of the 1.6m YES voters expected from the Vow. It would not have surprised or shocked them. Nicola and the SNP Cabinet could have played a virtually identical hand to the one they did in fact play after the 27th November “deal” at FMQs and in the media – Powers inadequate, but they would be accepted and used, etc. There are obvious PR downsides to the scenario, but it has a certain integrity to it.
But the strategy – if there was one – seemed to be to work with the Commission, get the best deal on offer - in the full knowledge that it would fall far short of the Vow, of devomax, of federalism, of home rule - then criticise mercilessly the deal they had just made.
The major political upside of any deal that involved giving Scotland any new powers after a referendum defeat was that it would reopen the West Lothian Question in its new, nightmare reincarnation as EVEL – English Votes for English Laws – and leave the UK parties and constitutional arrangements in tatters in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
That has duly happened.
I don’t propose to offer a critique of the new powers – that hatchet job has been done expertly and acrimoniously by just about everybody.
On balance, I think the SNP – and the Greens – were right to join the Smith Commission, and right not to breakdown and walk-away. If I have a criticism, it is that they misjudged the post-deal tone, which offended the sensibilities of an old negotiator like me, specifically that if you make a deal, you accept your part in it and blame no one but yourself for its inadequacies.
But then, I am not a politician, and doubt that I ever could have been one. I’m something much more important in our new Scotland – an informed and vigilant voter – and there’s another 1.6m of me at the very least.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
Saturday, 25 October 2014
Johann Lamont has resigned as leader. Inevitable, and maybe overdue, given the flak she has taken from her own party. I wish her well, despite the inevitable bitterness she roused during the long referendum campaign by her ill-judged and often factually inaccurate performances at FMQs. She never understood her role, and worse, never understood the sea change that had occurred in Scottish politics.
Undoubtedly she was badly advised, and the victim of that unique brand of back-stabbing Labour politics with its roots in the smoke filled backrooms of Glasgow and Monklands.
I was well-disposed towards her before and immediately after her election as leader, and more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong, and my assessment of her (and of Henry McLeish!) proved to be way off beam.
Here are some of my views from back then…
Saturday, 17 December 2011
An open letter to Johann Lamont
Dear Johann Lamont,
Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.
The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)
I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.
But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.
I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.
But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.
In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.
But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.
The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.
But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.
While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.
A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.
As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.
That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.
I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.
from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,
Scottish Labour Leadership Results
December 17, 2011 2:59 pm
Deputy Leadership result:
MORIDURA BLOG November 23rd- 2011
Johann Lamont at the moment looks like the favourite to win the Scottish Labour leadership contest. It’s either her or Ken Macintosh – Tom Harris is naewhere.
If I had to choose from what is available, I would choose Johann Lamont, because I think I see a kind of integrity there, the kind that has always existed in the Scottish Labour Party, but which usually gets buried alive in that self-serving sea of mediocrity and careerism. (I’m talking about the Labour politicians and the union leaders, not the long-suffering Labour voters and lay party and union members utterly betrayed by them for over half a century.)
Let me say that she is not First Minister material, but that would not deter the Scottish Labour Party if Scotland were ever unfortunate enough to have them in power again in Holyrood. After all, London – i.e. UK – Labour elected Ed Miliband, who is not Prime Ministerial material.
The long-running gravy train that is the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t want a people’s choice – they want to foist a candidate on the people who will stoke the boiler, oil the wheels and grease the rails for the high road to Westminster for its politicians, and to safe party sinecures for its union officials.
But if they do elect Johann, they may find that she is not as committed to that auld conspiracy against the electorate as they hope – she shows distinct signs of being a realist, and being her own wumman. However, her priority is to get elected, so she must be circumspect for the moment, as she reads the wildly conflicting signals from senior Labour figures such as Alexander, Murphy and Harris, who show signs of beginning to hedge their career bets as the prospect of an independent Scotland becomes ever more real. The strange noises being made around the Scotland Bill and devo max illustrate this clearly. (I do not include Henry McLeish in this. I respect him, and I think Scotland matters more to him than career, more perhaps than anything else. )
But on Monday night, she was pretty evasive and obscure, sent signals on devo max, but was caught flatfooted by Glenn Campbell on two questions –devo max, and the $64,000 question – could Labour deliver their objectives more easily in an independent Scotland?
She revealed more by what she didn’t say than by what she said, but my judgement is that she is keeping her options very much open on this possibility, having taken her cue from Alexander, Murphy, Auld Uncle Tam Harris and all … She is “not going to let Alex Salmond define devo max”. He agrees with you, Johann – he has been trying to get Labour and their Tory and LibDem pals to define what they mean by it for some time now, and ideally participate in a cross-party discussion about it.
As for the smooth lizard on the rock, Macintosh – who Kens?
Saturday, 13 September 2014
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.
Clair (surname witheld by me – happy to publish it if Claire so wishes!)
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.
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Only 20 days to go - it's hard to believe. The campaign seems to have been going on for ever, but like everything in life, suddenly the event is upon you – there’s all the time in the world, then suddenly, there’s little time left.
It's very hard to predict what the outcome will be.
If the polls are to be believed (poll of polls average) YES will lose. There's no doubt that there is a very fearful NO constituency out there of Scots over 55 who fear change, fear uncertainty, and cling to the status quo, even though the risks are greater in remaining in UK.
There's also a hard core of selfish Scots - the "I'm alright Jock" complacent group, with no thought for the vulnerable in our society.
Set against that is the totally unique nature of the Scottish Referendum. There quite literally has been nothing like this - anywhere, ever.
A peaceful, democratic process by an ancient nation that was never conquered, but entered reluctantly, but voluntarily into a partnership with a larger nation 307 years ago, with many of its ancient institutions still functioning - its legal system, its church, its education system, its own NHS (since 1948), its own Parliament - and vitally, a mass YES movement, the largest in British history, totally unprecedented, that has catalysed ordinary people across society and political divides, ethnic origins, age and sex demographics into political and constitutional awareness.
A referendum turnout of over 80% is expected to vote, and crucially, this will include people who have never voted before in their lives, and people who were never registered to vote.
Pollsters do not poll voters with no previous voting record, so this group, size unknown, is not reflected in poll results. Additionally, this group exists predominantly among the working class and the deprived, which is where YES has its greatest support - for obvious reasons.
YES has a huge army of foot soldiers, campaigning daily across Scotland, not just stuffing leaflets, but carrying out their own polls on voting preferences. These results, together with an equally unprecedented attendance at political YES meetings across Scotland, with village halls packed out, all present an encouraging picture.
So there's all to play for!
Friday, 30 May 2014
Sunday, 4 May 2014
I expect journalists to be objective, but not neutral. I expect news reporting to be factual, and not to spin the facts, but I do not expect balance, e.g. if there are ten facts that day for one side of an argument and five for another, I don’t expect the journalist to trawl for another five facts to achieve ‘balance’.
I expect a sharp distinction to be made between news reporting and commentary. I never expect neutrality, only objectivity. I expect individual journalists to have a viewpoint and an interpretation of events. I accept that entire newspapers and magazines have a viewpoint, a position, and editors that identify with that position, providing they observe good journalistic practice in relation to factual reporting and veracity.
I deeply distrust newspapers and periodicals where the viewpoint is that of the owners, rather than the journalist.
I am not, and never have been a journalist, and I have never worked for a newspaper or magazine in any capacity, nor in media. I believe strongly in a free press and media, especially in print journalism and public service broadcasting.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The mob hysteria of the Westminster Unionist MPs grow as the polls narrow, moving towards a YES.
There are calls, some heartfelt, most deeply hypocritical, for a more respectful independence debate at this crucial point in Scotland and the United Kingdom's history. Whatever the outcome, Scots will live with it and with each other, amicably and respectfully.
But the shame of sessions like these will never die - Scottish MPs attacking the aspirations of at least 40% of their fellow Scots in the most contemptuous and often factually inaccurate manner, ganging up on the lonely, but dignified six nationalist MPs waiting for their release from this chamber of a failed democracy into commencing their great task of building a new Scotland.
Say YES, Scots, and never be subjected to such offensive, patronising and contemptuous behaviour ever again.
Thursday, 13 March 2014
The Clash of the Experts – What is the “optimal currency arrangement" for Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK)?
UK’s answer is “The present arrangement is the best. Stay with the UK and keep the present arrangement – vote No!”
Scottish Government’s answer is “We 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!”
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.
THE SCOTTISH SECTION OF TREASURY COMMITTEE with MARK CARNEY, GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND – STEWART HOSIE MP SEGMENT
THE SCOTTISH SECTION OF TREASURY COMMITTEE with MARK CARNEY, GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND – End of Stewart Hosie segment (the confirmation) and into the COMMITTEE MEMBERS QUESTIONS)
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Peter Curran note
Business for Scotland, non-party, and committed to Scotland’s independence, have done vital work on their website, on YouTube, in the media, to the Scottish Parliament and through public meetings throughout Scotland. They have made a vital - and perhaps a decisive contribution - to demonstrating the business case for Scotland’s independence. I reproduce this recent example with permission: my thanks to David Bell of Business for Scotland.
Today Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Chief Executive of Business for Scotland will present research to the Economy Committee at the Scottish Parliament regarding the prosperity of an independent Scotland.
The session begins at 10.30am and also includes Marie Macklin of Klin Group, Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers and Dan Macdonald of MacDonald Estates.
The evidence session can be viewed live on Democracy Live as it takes place from 10.30am.
Business for Scotland submission
The Economy Committee is currently conducting an enquiry into Scotland’s Economic Future Post-2014. This has involved taking evidence from a range of sources concerning the economic opportunities of independence and challenges ahead.
Business for Scotland provided evidence in three key areas: Scotland’s current position of economic strength; the substantial cost to Scotland as a result of UK debt repayments; and Scotland’s position as a leading global exporter.
Summary of evidence
It can be summarised as follows:
1) Scotland has a rich and diverse economy. This includes multi-billion pound sectors ranging from construction, tourism, manufacturing, life sciences, financial services, research and development, the creative industries, energy, fishing and agriculture.
2) An independent Scotland will prioritise the interests of business in Scotland following decades of Westminster prioritising the distinctive interests of London and the South East. This includes the opportunity to create a simpler tax system that supports Scottish business; reforming the labour market to improve employer/employee relations; encouraging migration to Scotland to balance Scotland’s unique demographic needs; and supporting Scottish exports globally through a Scottish diplomatic and trade service.
3) Business for Scotland research using historical GERS figures has proven that Scotland has paid over £64 billion of unnecessary UK debt interest repayments over 32 years. Had Scotland been run as an independent country over the period, it would currently have a substantial fiscal surplus and not have been in debt.
4) Recent figures from the Global Connections Survey demonstrate that Scotland is one of the world’s top exporting nations. This strong trading position is another key indicator of the ability of Scotland to be a successful and wealth independent nation. Scotland’s exports were worth nearly £100 billion in 2012 alone.
Friday, 14 February 2014
A number of comments on my YouTube videos – and in the wider debate reflect different views on key policies in an independent Scotland, e.g. on currency, EU, monarchy, etc. This is because the YES campaign is broad-based and contains many views and many political parties – and those of no party. However, some supporters do not seem to have grasped the key dynamics of what follows a YES vote and the current political realities and time scale.
Here is my response – and my understanding - offered to one such commentator offering multiple scenarios for independent Scotland’s relationship with the EU.
PETER CURRAN’S REPLY TO COMMENT
The independence negotiations will be conducted by the negotiating team selected by the Scottish government and on the basis of its White Paper policies. It will remain the government until May 2016, and an independent Scotland's position vis-a-vis the EU will therefore be determined by the outcome of their negotiations with EU.
Their policy and intent is to remain in the EU, and to negotiate terms of entry as an existing member under UK until independence day. All the options you detail are therefore academic - they will not form part of the negotiations.
Although the YES campaign is a widely-based campaign containing other parties (and those of no party) who have differing views of EU membership (and other issues), they will not influence that policy. The 2016 election campaign will commence March 2016, and all parties are then free to include in their campaign manifestos whatever policies they like, and the Scottish electorate will decide the Government of independent Scotland.
Whatever the outcome of that election, I would hope that the new government - if it is not an SNP government - will not start by wholesale repudiation of major agreements just reached with rUK and EU, nor with a rash of referendums. Such actions would sit very badly with world opinion.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
The formidable powers of an independent Scotland that Johann Lamont thinks are “wee things”: Scottish Labour’s nadir at FMQs
Scotland doesn't control the currency or interest rates at the moment. Neither does UK - they're controlled by Bank of England. We won't control them under a currency union either, but we'll have more influence than we have at the moment, as an independent country, a partner in a currency union.
ECONOMIC LEVERS: Excise duty, air passenger duty, VAT, capital gains tax, oil and gas taxation, national insurance, income tax, corporation tax, competition law, consumer protection, industry regulation, employment legislation, the minimum wage, energy markets and regulation, environmental regulations.
ALL THESE THINGS ARE CONTROLLED IN LONDON UNDER UK
ALL OF THEM WILL BE CONTROLLED IN SCOTLAND AFTER INDEPENDENCE.
We'll be able to set the minimum wage, abolish the Bedroom Tax (not just mitigate it). We will be able to transform childcare.
WE WILL BE ABLE TO REMOVE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION FROM SCOTLAND
WE WONT HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN ILLEGAL WARS
Bur all of these things - which we can only do with independence - are, to Johann Lamont, "wee things".
The prospect of this woman and her cohorts leading even a devolved Scottish Government is not to be contemplated.
Friday, 24 January 2014
@FewArePict I do my best, as do thousand's of YES supporters. Get the fact out, the buttons on - buttonhole the voters!
No independence movement can afford to be bland, blinkered, bashful or blasé - or it's buggered ...
@FewArePict 307 years of UK propaganda, Labour blatant lies and compliant media are bound to influence many against logic, Debra. Info, info
Pete Ramand and James Foley have produced a formidably insightful analysis of core dynamic of Scottish referendum http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/23/scotland-labour-traditions-yes-vote-independence … …
The key referendum issue is increasingly becoming the have-nots (and those who care about them) versus the haves - the I'm Alright UK Jocks.
@SovereignSadie Means what it says, Anne - policies such as NATO, monarchy, economy and military that mainly targeted that demographic group
GUARDIAN: "A hardcore of Scotland is rich, authoritarian, or militarist" - "Salmond's team has sacrificed far too much to them already"
@1982Nick Have a look at the polls for their impact. It may not have surprised you, but it seems to have escaped YES strategic planners.
Guardian: "A hardcore of Scotland is rich, authoritarian, or militarist; where these households vote yes, they are statistical flukes"
GUARDIAN:"For decades, poorest voters, most dependent on govmnt aid, have seen constitutional change as better guarantee .. than Labour vote
GUARDIAN:"Contrary to views of many Labour supporters, .. referendum is not about blood and soil separatism" It's about "societal divisions"
@KennyFarq will it have same will-sapping Unionist misinfo, vacuous Cal-Max lifestyle options, + underpowered cultural punditry as usual?
Retweeted by Peter Curran
Scot.SocialAttitudes Survey: Wealthy Scots are resolutely hostile, 72% of business leaders are hostile to independence. And morally bankrupt
SSAS survey shows strong correlation between a YES and social class. 40% of households earning under £14,300 are likely to vote YES. YES!
Yes is . keeping what remains of social democratic decency. Scot Labour traditions are real battleground for YES vote http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/23/scotland-labour-traditions-yes-vote-independence …
Sillars sees that Scottish Left, lost for a century in an international socialist UK dream, will hold real power for 15 hrs only on 15 Sept.
"One-fifth of Scots households below basic income level" A national disgrace, directly attributable to 3 UK parties http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/one-fifth-of-scots-households-below-basic-income-level.23256880 …
Scot.Sec.Alistair Carmichael is accused of doing too little on sex abuse allegations while he was Lib Dem chief whip http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/carmichael-accused-of-inaction-over-lib-dem-claims-1-3280694 …
@moridura I should make it clear on my last tweet that I meant that the Telegraph was owned by the Barclay Bros - not Johann Lamont MSP
How the Telegraph, Johann's favourite paper, owned by the Barclay Brothers, handles the Ryder Cup expenses rubbish http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10593197/Alex-Salmond-rejects-luxury-hotel-spending-criticism-as-ridiculous-frippery.html …
"Yes vote could be making of right wing in Scotland" Only the intelligent centre-right. Bonehead right is UK-fixated http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/a-yes-vote-could-be-making-of-the-right-wing-in-scotland.23240613 …
They just won't let this crap go - "Scottish independence: Border passport check claim http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/scottish-independence-border-passport-check-claim-1-3280801 …
UK Gov's lack of support for Scotland’s renewable energy industry is putting jobs and investment at risk. 'Scottish' Sec.Carmichael no help.
@Indy4Scotland I know many who are well-informed but will still vote No - out of either selfishness or irrational emotional Brit attachment.
@Shiny02 On pause, except for improving the economy, reducing unemployment and crime, tackling alcohol abuse, increasing tourism, etc. etc.
@ShonaMcAlpine I did my best, Now I'm in the huff ...
Over 500 hits in a day - people like a comedy horror clip. Johann Lamont stars at FMQs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqh8NLmAC7o …
@billyfish_66 I'm sure it reflect reality in key Labour areas. I've been at meetings where people who're anti-SNP were committed to YES vote
@billyfish_66 You know the answer, Billy - the SNP canvassers on the doorstep with their standard canvass cards. Similar results elsewhere.
@nataliemcgarry Result was probably inevitable, but your candidacy and canvass made a huge contribution to YES - and your day WILL come soon
@BBCPolitics "I acted immediately - I did sweet **** *** !" Clegg
Please don't offer rude alternative versions of Ian Davidson's SAF committee of 15 Jan with academics. SAF means Scottish Affairs Committee.
This is the 'uncorrected' report of Ian Davidson's SAF committee. Only a YES vote could correct this lot ... http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmscotaf/uc140-xiii/uc14001.htm …
@SovereignSadie It's not more nuanced than I think, Anne http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-unions-and-scotlands-independence.html …
@ShonaMcAlpine Of course you can! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and concentrate. Take a dictionary into the shower with the Cragganmore.
You saw the horror move - now read the full script, as Davidson's Academics prance and dance to his Brit.Empire cues http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmscotaf/uc140-xiii/uc14001.htm …
If you're doing OK, I'm Alright UK Jocks - spare a thought for 1 in 5 Scots who can't maintain an acceptable standard of living. Vote YES!
@ShonaMcAlpine Where is your head soaring to, Shona? But apart from that - awww, puir wee thing - there, there ... Drink a large Cragganmore
GMS Dr.Peter Lynch says Labour know that their voters might be "susceptible" to voting Yes. Dr.Lynch makes it sound like catching a cold ...
Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Almost 400,000 households in Scotland are living on incomes too low to afford an adequate standard of living .
11,727 Cowdenbeath voters: referendum voting intentions: 41% Yes, 36% No 23% undecided. Still Labour, but more indy Labour than UK Labour.
LibDems beaten by UKIP in Cowdenbeath. 5th place.
ROBERT McNEIL Herald "The idea that 16-year olds have the vote is almost as chilling as the idea that over-16s have it .." Gaun yersel, Rab!
Lawyers divided over Scotland's EU plans http://euobserver.com/news/122856 UK is clear Scotland WILL conform to EU rulebook - the acquis communautaire
Retweeted by Peter Curran
Danish friend on SNP and EU: "SNP's idea seem rather good, they are just notoriously bad at communicating what it is.." Tae see oorsels, etc
Alistair Carmichael, Scottish(?) Sec. wants to move Scottish shipyard work to England, describing Portsmouth as a “well placed” contender.
@mgreenwell Alistair Darling will be talking more rubbish to James Naughtie and an audience in Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow on Mar 13th, Mike
@TheHeraldPaper Have a whip round among those who lost their homes due to Games and Accord mothers, who lost a centre for disabled children
BAE's Ian King says the firm has “no contingency plans” to take work away from Govan and Scotstoun in the event of a Yes vote this September