Search topics on this blog

Google+ Badge

Showing posts with label The Union of 1707. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Union of 1707. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Referendum – the Stephen Noon explanation

NConway kindly referred me to Stephen Noon’s explanation of how the independence referendum would work. Stephen Noon is the SNP strategist who played a huge part in the Party’s stunning success in the 2011 election, and he is very much a party insider. Although this comes from his blog, it can be safely taken to reflect Party policy and it is dated 26th October, the same date as my blogs, so it is bang up to date.

It asks the key question – what if devo max (and Stephen does use the term, which the SNP have rather tried to distance themselves from in recent statements) gets more yes votes than independence in the referendum ballot?

Stephen equates the Party’s favoured approach with the 1997 referendum, which was also a two-question referendum. I would make the point that it was not, however, an independence referendum.

Here’s what Stephen says – I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him in full -

In the model proposed in the draft referendum bill in the last session, the choice would not be framed as an either/or. This is where the misunderstanding (or refusal to understand) arises.

Instead, the consultation paper sets out that voters would be asked, first, whether they want the Scottish Parliament to have responsibility for all matters except defence and foreign affairs. Then, they would be asked whether they want the additional powers that would take us to independence.

This is the same approach as in 1997. Scots were first asked whether they wanted a Scottish Parliament  with responsibility for health, education, justice etc. Then, as the second question, whether they - in addition - wanted that parliament to have tax-varying powers. The two options weren't competing.

So if there is a 2 question referendum on independence the approach, based on the 2010 consultation paper, would, in broad terms, be as follows. First, people are asked whether they want the parliament to have responsibility for the economy, welfare, energy etc. (i.e. devo max). Then they are asked if they want the parliament - in addition - to have responsibility for the other policy areas that mean Scotland would become independent.

Going back to 1997, three-quarters of Scots voted for the Parliament and just less than two-thirds for the additional tax varying powers. On the argument being presented by the Lib Dems and others, this result should mean that because the 'parliament only' option had more votes than the 'parliament plus tax-varying powers' option then the 'parliament only' option won. That is patently nonsense.

I've heard some say that in the independence referendum the two options wouldn't be linked. If you look back at the draft bill, that's clearly not the case. And, given that many of these same people are describing the middle option as 'independence-lite', the obvious point is, you can't have it both ways.

The kernel of Stephen’s argument is the assertion that the two questions are not competing, but in some way he seems to regard the sequence of the questions as significant, e.g.

First the people are asked …. Then they are asked …” with the first question being devo max and the second independence, then later “ ..the two options wouldn't be linked” .

Two questions on a ballot paper are rarely linked by intent. To do so would require the placing of some form of explicit conditionality on the sequence and validity of answering them, e.g. If you answer YES to QI then ignore Q2, to take a random example.

Then, and only then would the sequence of answering them be relevant. Technically, a multi-option ballot paper usually offers stand alone choice, i.e. the ballot paper to elect an MP to a constituency. This should not be confused with electing more than one person on the same ballot paper, or second choice votes, single transferrable vote etc.

But the ballot paper that Stephen envisages is on the model – as I understand his blog – of my Option Two on my first blog of 26th October The Referendum and the Question(s)

Let’s look at what Stephen says specifically about the two questions the Scottish Government will ask in the forthcoming referendum (the red highlighting is mine, not Stephen’s) -

First, people are asked whether they want the parliament to have responsibility for the economy, welfare, energy etc. (i.e. devo max). “

This will presumably be the question at the top of the ballot paper (assuming a single ballot paper) but presumably the ballot paper will not prefix it by QUESTION ONE,  which would imply a sequence and linking, in contradiction of “ ..the two options wouldn't be linked”.

On the second question, Stephen says -

Then they are asked if they want the parliament - in addition - to have responsibility for the other policy areas that mean Scotland would become independent.”)

This is certainly a sequence as presented, and this matters, to me, at least - but will it be presented as such by numbering the questions?

Of course, Stephen does not present the actual proposed precise wording of the questions, and he is right not to do so, primarily because the wording will be hotly contested, and perhaps not only by the unionist opposition, but also by supporters of independence who are not SNP, and some party members and supporters. But he does suggest what the content of the questions will be, and their import -

On the ‘first’ question, the people will be asked to answer YES/NO to “ … whether they want the parliament to have responsibility for the economy, welfare, energy etc. (i.e. devo max).

Does Stephen envisage a check list of these questions, or an itemisation of them, or wrapping them up under a single term, e.g.  “devo max, etc..” Is it going to be a long, single sentence question including every power within the definition of full fiscal autonomy, or is a single term going to be used on the assumption that the voters know in advance what full fiscal autonomy, devo max or indy lite actually means?

Will this ‘first’ question include anything like the words ”while remaining part of the UK, with the UK continuing to control foreign policy, defence and retaining the sovereignty of Westminster.

Then they are asked if they want the parliament - in addition - to have responsibility for the other policy areas that mean Scotland would become independent.”

Does that this mean that instead of a simple question like “Do you want Scotland to be completely independent and leave the UK?” that the other “key policy areas” will be defined in detail?

AM I NIT-PICKING, AND DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER?

I can answer for no one but myself, as an eligible voter in the referendum, and claim to speak for no one but myself, and all I can say is that it matters to me.  I do not want one – or maybe two – of the most important questions that have been asked in my lifetime, questions that will affect the future of Scotland and the rest of the UK (where I have friends, colleagues and close relatives) for a generation, to be inadequate to their primary purpose of determining the democratic will of the Scottish people – and that includes the Scottish voters who don’t agree with me, and who may be members of different parties, or no party.

There is an old saying, one done to death by glib management consultants, but nonetheless true, that perception is reality. This critical referendum will be completed by eligible Scottish voters from diverse backgrounds, with a huge range of demographic variations of age and educational attainment and intellect. Few will be political anoraks, but rather will be in the midst of busy, demanding lives. A question or questions must be posed with great clarity, and making no unwarranted assumptions about what voters know.

What I think every voter has is a very clear idea of what the  independence of a nation means, despite the frantic attempts of some of those opposed to the independence of Scotland to muddy the water and obscure the definition.

The difficulties arise with a second question – I purposely avoid calling it the second question, because for some, it is the primary question, if the opinion polls are accurate. It may well be necessary to ask it in the name of democracy, but let’s not pretend it makes the Great Game simpler – it is fraught with difficulties that are not present in a single YES/NO question on full independence.

Each question has two possible outcomes, YES or NO. That gives the following possible outcomes

YES to full fiscal powers, YES to independence

NO to full fiscal powers, NO to independence

YES to full fiscal powers, NO to independence

NO to full fiscal powers, YES to independence

The first answers will be given by those totally committed to independence

The second answers will be given by those committed to the status quo and anti-independence

The third answers will be given by those committed to the UK but wanting devo ma

But with the fourth possibility – and it is a possibility, despite its apparent illogicality – we enter the perception-is-reality area, and even a tactical voting area.

There are many reasons for this combination of answers, among them -

Since full fiscal powers is automatic under the independence option, I don’t need to say yes to it, so I’ll say no …

I don’t think this question (FFP) should have been asked, so I’ll indicate my disagreement by saying no …

I want independence, I’ll get FFP under independence, but I don’t want to add to the vote for FFP as an alternative to independence, in case that vote is high …

The NO/NO option contains a possibility, admittedly of low probability, that some voters, committed to independence but deeply unhappy about the inclusion of another question on FFP, will see this as a way of rejecting the ballot format, without realising that they are effectively voting for the status quo.

The YES/NO option contains the possibility that a voter, committed to independence, but not to the SNP, will see this as a holding option till political power shifts, without realising the risk of placing independence out of reach for a generation.

These is are additional possibilities that may not affect the count, but will affect the political arguments that inevitably arise after a ballot which do not invalidate the result, but weaken the perceived mandate. This process has been observable after every general election and local government election. whether it is over the turnout or the percentage of total votes cast. (In the case of the 2011 landslide SNP win, the unionist parties came close to denying the SNP mandate, a ludicrous and indefensible argument, but one that is repeatedly deployed.)

This argument not only will be deployed after successful referendum outcome for independence, it is already being advanced hypothetically at the moment. Why does it matter? Because it will be crucial to the climate and dynamic of the negotiations with the UK Government that will follow a win for independence.

There is an additional possibility in the above voting outcomes that may be relevant to this aspect, e.g. some voters may elect to answer only one question. Dependent on the rules, this will either be acceptable or it will nullify the ballot paper. For example, a ballot paper that requires a YES/NO, strike-out-as-inapplicable response requires a voter response, and a failure to answer the question cannot be reasonably taken as a NO, and conceivably could spoil the ballot paper. On the other, a voting paper that requires that a box be ticked or left blank, as in a vote for a candidate for MP in a general election must be left blank if the option is rejected.

The motivation of voters for answering only one question may be varied, but it undoubtedly contributes not only to the result but to the analysis of the voting pattern.

SUMMARY

There is a pattern of response that I have encountered and observed all my working life, in management and in management consulting work. It is endemic in  the political arena, and it runs as follows -

Before the Plan is implemented …

That’s detail – we must keep our eye on the big policy picture …

That’s nit-picking – it will either never happen, or it won’t matter if it does …

After the plan has gone disastrously wrong …

No one could have foreseen that this would happen …

This was the result of unpredictable events – chance rather than risk assessment …

Oh, no it wasn’t , mate – it was clearly foreseeable, it was seen, it was predictable and was predicted – it was an entirely foreseeable possibility on any proper risk assessment, but the possibilities and predictions were ignored.

I don’t want that to happen to this referendum ballot. But I’m nine parts sure all this thinking has already been done by the backrooms boys and girls in Holyrood – maybe they just have good tactical and strategic reasons not to share their thoughts with the rest of us. Or maybe it hasn’t …

Saor Alba!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Referendum question(s) – initial follow-up

The follow-up to my last blog has happened, but not quite in the way I had anticipated. I’ve had one comment from Fourfolksache (see comments below and my reply) but a considerable number of email comments, some anonymously, some brief informal comments and some extended response from named individuals. The latter group, however, did not want to be identified, nor did they want their verbatim response to be quoted. I will, of course, respect their wishes to remain anonymous, but I will try to capture the essence of the points they made.

But first I must clear up a key misconception that emerged in the minds of some - at least I see it as a misconception, but I am happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

Many correspondents seem to believe that Scotland has already had an independence referendum, when in fact it has not. The one that will be held in the second half of this Scottish Parliamentary term will be the first Scottish independence referendum.

The confusion seems to exist over concepts of home rule and devolution. The Scottish 1979 referendum was an attempt to get support for the devolved assembly under the Scotland Act 1978. Known to Nationalists as the Rigged Referendum, it failed in its objective, despite having a 51.6% YES vote on a 63.8% turnout of the Scottish electorate, which didn’t meet the requirement of 40% of the electorate eligible to vote. A second devolution referendum was held in 1997, which endorsed devolution and the setting up of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

It follows from this that criticisms of my analysis based on that assumption alone are invalid, since they ignore the fact that no option to leave the UK was included in either referendum, and this is the source of the problem when a third possibility in addition to IN or OUT is added, namely full fiscal autonomy.

All are agreed that a simple dual option on independence or remaining in the UK, presented as either as a YES/NO or two question ballot is the simplest. The nationalist all require a simple 51% majority vote – others require a higher percentage YES vote, or even a UK-wide vote.

All correspondents felt that my Option One methodology - my three option ballot - was either unfair because it permitted a minority of those voting to win the vote if they had the highest number of votes, or it was unfeasible because the unionists just would not accept such a methodology. The nationalist tended to say “It would be nice, but it’s no gonnae happen!

I agree – I simply put it up as a straw man to illustrate some of the difficulties of any methodology in addressing the overlapping objectives of part of the electorate.

The only criticism – so far – of Option Two is that the options can all go on the one ballot paper. This is true – the reason I suggested two ballot papers is to point up the fact the the result of each ballot stands alone. No one has yet offered any alternative that meets the problems that can arise over certain outcomes that I have identified. That, of course, doesn’t mean there are none …

A more general point, which I understand, is that I am over-complicating what must be a simple exercise and straightforward choices for the voter. All I can say is that every balloting and voting system in underpinned by complex planning and core assumptions that attempt to envisage and anticipate problems that may arise, and these are largely invisible to the voter.

When I press a button on my radio or TV, or a key on my computer, I do not want to know all of the complexities that lies behind it. All I want is a truthful outcome from a simple action.



Given the shambles that has resulted in the very recent past in Scotland from voting systems and mechanisms, I don’t think I am being unreasonable in wanting to avoid a recurrence in this most crucial of ballots.

And of course, there’s aye the politics …

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Douglas Alexander at Stirling–the final ‘What Labour Must Do’ speech?

I pose the question in the title, but the answer, sadly,  is no – Gerry Hassan could not resist, and yet another example of the genre is up under his name in The Scotsman today – Scottish Labour must find a new, dynamic story. Perhaps Gerry is encouraged by the fact that the doyen of the genre is off to the antipodes and the field is clear. However, Gerry is always worth reading and his heart and his heid are in the right place, and his voice is and will continue to be a powerful one in the new Scotland.

And so to Wee Dougie’s speech

In my estimation, Douglas Alexander is the most intelligent unionist politician on the UK scene from any party, and therein lies his tragedy, because he is also a Labour careerist whose brightest prospect has always been the high road to England, to Westminster and to an international stage. I have no objection to him being any of these things – the Scottish lad o’pairts whose ambitions are not bounded by national boundaries is a recognised historical figure, prominent in the British Empire and world affairs, including, regrettably, in some of that crumbling empire’s worst excesses.

I just don’t want him to have anything to do with the future of Scotland, or to pretend that he somehow speaks for that future or advances Scotland’s interests in any way by being part of geopolitics based on the US/UK military/industrial war machine and the pretence that the UK is a player of significance on the international stage.

He is a Scot out of the same mould as George Robertson, John Reid, Jim Murphy and Liam Fox, not the infinitely superior mould of Donald Dewar, Robin Cook, John Smith and Henry McLeish.

Fortunately his penetrating intelligence is not accompanied by charisma, his persona being that of a young Minister of the Kirk. We have seen what the lethal mixture of unbridled ambition and charisma can do in Tony Blair, and one of those in a generation is more than enough to leave a trail of death, misery and destruction across half the globe. I also believe that he has a core of genuine values, rather in the way that Gordon Brown does, values that conflict with ambition. In both cases, greater fulfilment might have been achieved by pursuing a career in the ministry. (They both are sons of the manse.)



THE SPEECH

Douglas started his speech with a reference to Dunsinane, and posed the question “Stands Scotland where it did?”

As I observed in my clip of his Newsnight Scotland interview with Gordon Brewer, he seems oblivious to the fact that the wood of Dunsinane was advancing on a murderous king who had lost his moral compass, and the closest analogy to that is of the Scottish People, represented by the SNP Government that they placed their trust in so decisively, advancing on the party, Labour, that lost its moral compass by associating itself completely with a murderous regime, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The only question is who will play Banquo’s ghost in this new version of the Scottish play?

Douglas then ranges widely in his metaphors, dragging in General Custer with the unlikely figure of the Wee Laird O’Drumlean in the role of the blonde, charismatic Custer in his last stand.

But he goes on to a sober, clear-eyed recognition of the scale of Labour’s Scottish humiliation, and takes as his main theme “Scotland’s political future and Scottish Labour’s place therein”. (The old cadences of the manse and the pulpit echo!)

He claims that the great debate on Scotland’s future will not be “an exercise in accounting but ruefully acknowledges his central role in just such an exercise – Divorce is an Expensive Business 1999 and says that he does not resile from those fears.

Douglas is being disingenuous – he knows that he is now dealing with a sophisticated and informed Scottish electorate who have experienced directly what thirteen years of Labour economics and eighteen months of Coalition economics have done to their lives and their futures. And he is dealing with a Scottish Government who are able to cut through the miasma of scare tactics and media distortions that the unionist parties and their compliant media have traditionally manipulated to misinform the Scottish people. And of course, the exponential growth of the new media has cut through the lies told by the powerful across the globe like a laser beam.

His campaign in Scotland was fronted by a beaming Tony Blair, with the slogan New Labour – New Scotland, an association that now indelibly and fatally tarnishes his campaign and his party. The voice of the Scots who have died since 1999 in pursuit of that vision cry out for justice, as do some of the bereaved.

The facts – and history – having betrayed him, Douglas moves rapidly on to emotion, philosophy and historical allusions to Plato, David Hume, Ivan Illich, Old Uncle Tam Cobleigh and all.

He focuses on Ivan Illich’s concept of telling an alternative story, and recognises belatedly that “ the stories we tell about ourselves, our communities and our nation are thankfully not the exclusive domain of politicians: writers, musicians, poets and artists help shape our sense of self and also our sense of our nation’s story”.

What should sit uncomfortably with him is that most of the writers, musician, poets and artists tell a story of Scotland, its history and its impending independence, a story of freedom, a story of peace and justice and equality and the common man -  a story that Labour has forfeited all right to tell. Of course, he can always call on Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly, or Niall Ferguson – or maybe Lord George Foulkes to tell their stories and sing their songs.

He goes on a great length about the idea of Margaret Thatcher as villain, as though she was the SNP’s villain, not Labour’s villain. She was certainly the enemy of Scotland, of the Scottish people and of an independent Scotland, as are her Westminster coterie and her Scottish acolytes to this day. What sits uncomfortable with Douglas is that the Scottish people have progressively recognised that Margaret Thatcher was just the figure head and poster girl for a greater, deeper villainy – the villainy of the UK and the British Establishment, and that one of the Iron Lady’s greatest admirers and sedulous imitators was one Anthony Lynton Blair, a Scot of sorts when it suited him, who became her natural successor.

And the Scottish people also recognised that far from delivering them from this exploitative 300 year old tyranny, Labour was and is totally committed to perpetuating it.

The careers paths of Douglas Alexander, of Tony Blair, of Gordon Brown, of John Reid, of George Robertson – and of the likes of Baron Martin of Springburn, of Jim Murphy, of Margaret Curran et al would not be possible without that poisoned Union, and Labour will be condemned to permanent opposition in UK Minus once Scotland goes.

Douglas refers to the “old Labour hymns” becoming increasingly unfamiliar to the Scottish people. They are not unfamiliar, Douglas, they are all too familiar in the tune that they have become – the Dies Irae – the hymn of death, under the flag of blood, the Union Jack.



All the analysis and remedies that follow in your speech are dust and ashes against these facts, Douglas -  a voice crying in the wilderness of Labour values. You and your party - indeed you and your political breed - are on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of humanity, and certainly on the wrong side of Scotland’s future.

You, and the army of What Labour Must Do voices cannot, and will not offer the real solution to Labour‘s troubles, but the solution will be there for you in Scotland’s independence. On that first joyful day of Scotland’s independence as a nation state, politicians such as yourself will have a clear choice – stand as a candidate under your party banner for a Scottish Parliamentary constituency, or fold your tent, head south and find an English, Welsh or Northern Irish constituency party that will adopt you as their candidate for the UK Minus Parliament, Westmister. In practice, that means an English constituency.

After Scotland’s independence, that won’t exactly be an easy task for you or your ilk, Douglas. You know it, the Jim Murphys know it, the Tom Harrises know it, the Margaret Curran’s know it.  You have made your bed with Westminster and the UK – soon you must lie on it.

As for all the Scottish Lords – aye, weel, there’s a tale to be told …

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Black Gold

Scots – are you prepared to have your oil revenues stolen for another 40 years by the United Kingdom?

what must the answer to the referendum question be?

You know the answer – get ready to give it!

Yes to freedom

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Michael Moore pose 6 questions–but I have only one for him …


Examining Michael Moore’s voting record, (Voting record) I see a principled man – or at least one who voted as I might have done on most – but not all – key issues. Then I remind myself that most of this voting was done in opposition, when the LibDems had – or claimed to have – liberal, democratic principles. All of that, as we now to know, vanished when they entered the Coalition, and the thin veneer of principle was rapidly stripped off, revealing the rotten Tory woodwork underneath.

And of course, there’s nothing like a ministerial car, salary and perks, not to mention the hollow trapping of being a colonial governor, to erode principle and give free rein to a natural inclination towards pomposity. But, as a leading member of a party that has welshed on its manifesto commitments, betrayed those who voted for it in May 2010, and which has reduced the party in Scotland to a pathetic little group in Holyrood, Michael Moore entertains no self-doubt about his right to lecture the Scottish Government, elected by a decisive mandate by the people of Scotland, who also gave the LibDems and Tavish Scott two fingers in May 2011.

If he had taken the trouble to read Your Scotland, Your Voice Nov. 2009 he would have found most of the answers in a document almost two years old, produced as part of a conversation with the people of Scotland. And of course, that thinking has been developed and refined and is the subject of on-going research and development within the party in the lead-up to the referendum on independence.

But Michael Moore’s imperial mind has been focused by the prospect of losing his plumed hat and his white horse when the Scottish Office becomes redundant and is consigned to a sordid footnote in history (except for Niall Ferguson, who may wish to publish several tedious volumes on its glorious past) and by the fact that if a general election was conducted in the next year, his party would face UK-wide obliteration, and even the border voters of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk might wish to think again about their MP.

What does the Scotsman have to say about all of this? Michael Kelly, in an article on sectarianism and the deeply non-productive and unfortunate comments by Paul McBride, QC has, for once many considered and important things to say, and I am in broad agreement with him – a first for me! But Oor Michael cannot risk being thought to be in favour of independence when he rightly criticises McBride’s doomsday scenario, so he has a little disclaimer in his second paragraph. I quote -

I am as keen as the next home rule unionist to prevent the creation of a state, socially, economically and politically inferior to the one we have in which we currently enjoy living.”

The state “in which we currently enjoy living” – the UK – is the one that is nearly bankrupt, bleeding itself to death with foreign wars and interventions, corrupt in its Parliament, in its institutions, in its banking, and in its unelected power and privilege.

This is the state that for over 300 years has exploited Scotland, its people and its resources, a state that is still being disproportionately funded by Scotland, not only in economic terms but in the blood of its servicemen and women, who have consistently sustained a casualty rate, proportionate to population, higher than the rest of the UK. Their reward has been to be called heroes – which they are – and to have their ancient regiments eliminated, merged, in a sustained attempt to remove their Scottish identity, to be inadequately equipped by an incompetent M.O.D. Ask Rose Gentle, a Scottish mother whose 19-year-old son, Fusilier Gordon Gentle, was killed in Basra in 2004.



Scotland’s reward for the rape of its people, talent and resources has been poverty, poor housing, destruction of its industrial infrastructure, and a lower life expectancy for men and women than the rest of the UK. This lethal colonial ravaging of Scotland has only begun to be ameliorated by the Scottish National Party, who in just over four years of government - most of it in minority government, blocked at every opportunity by a cynical and expedient unionist opposition – have given news spirit and new hope to the Scottish people, who have rewarded them with a giant vote of confidence.

Michael Kelly’s party, in contrast, presided over the decline of Scotland for half a century, until their dead and cynical hegemony was successfully challenged by the SNP in 2007. Before the Scottish Labour Party we had an equally dead hand, that of the party of empire, blood, death and privilege, the Tory Party, now an irrelevancy in Scotland.

And what of the Scotsman lead article? It has the front to talk of honest answers. Under its present editorial team and proprietorship, it rarely asks honest questions – they are loaded unionist propaganda - and even more rarely provides honest answers. In its instincts it is Tory, but recognises the death of that party in Scotland. It is now in a dilemma – it is anti-Labour, but pro-Union, but the only hope for the Union is Labour. It was forced, in a fit of realism during the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary campaign, to recognise that the SNP had the only managerially competent politicians in Scotland, so it backed them, but was emphatically not backing an independent Scotland.

It was utterly taken aback by the election results, and now is in an even greater dilemma, trying to balance the twin threats of declining circulation caused by its progressive irrelevance as a voice for Scotland, and its irrational and emotional attachment to the Union. It gives occasional – and very welcome - space to real Scottish voices such as Joan McAlpine, but the balance is never in doubt, with columnists such as Alan Massie, Michael Kelly, et al, and of course the consistently unionist voice of its editor, Bill Jamieson. The Scotsman has never really recovered from Andrew Neil, Thatcherite and Unionist par excellence.

So let me close with a message to Michael Moore. If you care for Scotland, resign from your post as Scottish Secretary, ask Willie Rennie to stand down as leader of his tiny group, and lead your party in Holyrood. God knows, the Scottish LibDems need a leader, after Tavish Scott - and now Willie Rennie. They will welcome you with open arms. The spirit of Joe Grimond will be with you, instead of the ghost of Jeremy Thorpe. You can keep the plumed helmet …

Meanwhile, stop asking stupid questions – you can render that service at least to your adopted country.