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Showing posts with label Scotland's referendum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland's referendum. Show all posts

Friday, 27 January 2012

The referendum debate–clips from the second part–25th January 2012

Part Two of the BBC Scotland referendum debate - 25th January 2012 - Burns Night.

Johann Lamont MSP - Leader of Scottish Labour Party

Nicola Sturgeon MSP - Deputy First Minister of Scotland

Lord Wallace of Tankerness - Advocate General of Scotland - UK LibDem/Tory Coalition

Lesley Riddoch - journalist, broadcaster and commentator

Note: The Advocate General is the British Crown's legal representative/watchdog in Scotland. It is a political appointment.

Jim Wallace - Baron Wallace of Tankerness - is a former LibDem politician who was in coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament. He is currently an unelected Lord, represents a party with 5 MSPs in Holyrood, and the junior partner LibDems in the UK Tory-led, Tory-dominated Coalition Government.

If a UK general election were held tomorrow, the LibDems, deeply discredited and unpopular across the UK, would be wiped out as they were in the 2011 Scottish election.

Jim Wallace, raising yet another unionist scare story about trade with England, appears oblivious to the fact that Scotland and England are in the EU and are part of a free trade, common market. He is unable to give any examples of his imagined ‘barriers’, and resent being told he is spreading scare stories under the guise of ‘debate’. Nicola patiently tries to educate him, but the Baron is excited and approaching incoherence by this point.


A plummy-voiced lady in the audience raises an inaccurate scare story about "being forced into the euro by Germany". This is patent nonsense - no sovereign state can be compelled to join the euro - that decision will be Scotland's alone, and will only be taken if economic conditions are judged to be favourable. Such primitive fear tactics have been characteristic of the woeful case advanced for the Union.


Johann Lamont thinks that Alex Salmond's long commitment to the independence of his country, and his belief that Scotland could handle its own affairs better is some kind of nostalgic romanticism and harking back to the past. Exactly the reverse is true - the SNP is about the future of Scotland, and it has been highly specific as to why independence will make that future a better one, economically, socially, educationally, culturally.

In fact, the nostalgia for "300 years of Union", the lack of any vision except a vague internationalism and the utter void of policy, values or vision at the heart of Labour and Johann Lamont's leadership is the thing most in evidence in this debate.


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Referendum debate - votes for 16-17 year olds? - Not if Wallace and Lamont can stop them!

16 and 17 year olds can marry, enter the armed forces, have children - but they can't vote in the referendum, to help determine the future of their country, Scotland - the future that is in their hands.

The UK government, the Advocate General and the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party don't want them to vote - except in an AV referendum that nobody asked for and nobody wanted, the campaign for which was one of the dirtiest in a long time, and in which the Coalition 'partners' - Tory and LibDems fought like ferrets in a sack.

Anyone who thinks that the law isn't politicised in the UK should listen to Jim Wallace in this debate. An unelected Lord, a member of a party with 5 MSPs in Scotland - a party that, if there were a general election tomorrow, would be reduced to a rump in the UK - Lord Wallace is the legal watchdog of the Crown in Scotland.

And we know what he's watching for ...

First half of referendum consultation debate on BBC1

Here is the first half of the 25 Jan 2012 debate - it took ages to upload and process. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow for Part 2 and last.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Unionists are now the New Fundamentalists

The unionists are now the fundamentalists - so says Professor James Mitchell in a deeply perceptive article in today’s Scotsman - Breaking up has become less easy

Commenting on the new maturity in the SNP’s and Scotland’s thinking, he observes -

But constitutional thinking has not developed evenly. A new fundamentalism has arisen in Scottish politics. Under devolution, unionist fundamentalism has replaced nationalist fundamentalism.”

Professor Mitchell lists the elements of this new fundamentalism -

1. The belief that the UK’s nuclear deterrent is independent.

2. Macro economic policy is still the sole prerogative of states. 

3. Foreign policy is somehow distinct from trade and economic policy.

He comments drily -

This is a world in which not only does the EU not exist but neither do the many defence communities and elaborate array of international obligations and treaties

This is a world of make-believe that still resonates for those who have yet to come to terms with the UK’s shrunken role in the world and the interdependence of modern politics.”

In the great debate now underway across Scottish society, such clarity of thought and expression as Professor Mitchell’s cuts through like a beam of laser light. Read the full article online and be grateful to the Scotsman for carrying it. Better still, buy the paper and smell the ink …


I remember the confusion that used exist in the minds of many managers in industry over the nature of the Engineering Employers’ Federation (the EEF) and the Confederation of British Industries (the CBI). The old joke used to be “When is a federation not a federation! When it’s a con …

Margo Macdonald gently made the distinction on Newsnight Scotland recently when the panel seemed somewhat confused on the terms in relation to the alleged ‘independence lite’ stance of the SNP.

For those who need reminding -

federal: 1 of a system of government in which several states form a unity but remain independent in internal affairs. 2 relating to or affecting such a federation 3 of or relating to the central governments distinguished from the separate states constituting a federation 4 favouring centralised government 5 comprising an association of largely independent units

confederation: a union or alliance of states

The dictionary definitions above still leave room for confusion, so we must look more closely at the political use of the terms. In general terms, a federation is a tighter relationship than a confederation, with the federation being the sovereign state.

A federation is a sovereign state comprising semi-autonomous units. A confederation  is a permanent union of sovereign states for the purpose of common action in relation to other states on, for example, defence and foreign policy, and perhaps currency.

Put at its simplest - a simplicity that many may dispute as an over-simplification - Scotland in a federation (the UK) would not be be a sovereign state but a devolved unit of the sovereign state of the UK.

Scotland in a confederation would be a sovereign state, but in a permanent union with another sovereign state, UK Minus (The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland), for the purposes of common action on defence and foreign policy, and perhaps with a common currency.

To those who cry “over-simplification!” at me, I cry right back “the electorate has to know what it’s voting for in the referendum!”.

My position on a confederal relationship is that, while commonsense sharing of certain defence aspects, such as basing, command, control, co-ordination and deployment of defence forces makes sense, there must be an absolute veto politically on any military engagement or commitment, and that Scotland would not be committed to a nuclear deterrent, to the use or deployment of nuclear weapons, that no nuclear bases or facilities for the nuclear weapons would be permitted in Scotland, and no movement of nuclear weapons would be permitted across Scotland's land mass,islands, airspace or on Scotland’s waters and coast.

For me, federation is out, but confederalism is a possibility, but a heavily circumscribed one in relation to nuclear policy.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Scotland’s First Minister–The Politics Show–and nuclear aspects of independence

The London media village, Westminster-obsessed, has abruptly discovered Scotland.

Alex Salmond tells Jon Sopel patiently how many beans make five.

Scotland watches proudly - and affectionately - as their First Minister courteously answers questions drawn from The Ladybird Book of Politics, which is as far as most UK media interviewers have got so far.


The First Minister says clearly that an independent Scotland would have the ultimate decision on when to go to war, i.e sacrifice the lives of Scottish servicemen and women – and would not, for example, have supported the invasion of Iraq.

He also says there could be some sensible sharing of military bases. But if that were to extend, for example, to leasing the Trident nuclear bases to UK Minus (The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) after Scotland has achieved independence, then the Scottish Government would have to have a veto on when nuclear weapons were used from its waters, or from a submarine in international waters that was based in Scottish waters.

Since Scotland does not support the use of nuclear weapons or WMDs in any circumstances, UK  Minus (effectively the US) would be leasing bases and owning weapons of mass destruction, e.g. Trident submarines that could never be used.

This would be untenable, therefore Scotland can never lease the nuclear bases to UK Minus.

Or that’s my logic. It’s also the deal breaker that I’ll go the barricades on, if needs must. And I’ll have company …