Dear Sir….

I’ve got a job at last! Blogging to end immediately…I’m hunting out my suit…Listen to this – BBC Scotland wants a public affairs adviser, someone with intimate knowledge of Scottish politics, who understands broadcasting and can advise senior management at PQ. It’s made for me…

They’re advertising for a good communicator – duh! – who can sort through a mass of information quickly and produce a coherent synopsis and tell the managers what to do to improve their image. Why did they bother to advertise? Must be able to talk with politicians (Johann will forgive me) and find out what’s happening in the corridors of power to tip off Kenny McQuarrie in advance. It’s made for me.

Of course I’ll miss this sharing my thoughts with all of you from the Maryhill Media Centre but it was only a stop-gap until I walked back into the Beeb as a rehabilitated big shot. And just before I go – can I say to you whining Nats out there that I have never detected the merest hint of bias in any of the BBC’s referendum coverage. Oh yes, I humoured you to keep you reading to get my numbers up but I knew they were doing their very best in there and anyway they know they’ll be on the winning side. So, farewell suckers. You know where you can stick your Yes stickers…

The job? Well it’s Adviser to BBC Scotland Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, answerable to one Ian Small, remember him? My good friend Ian is the man who wrote a perfectly reasonable letter of complaint to Dr Robertson* of some university nobody has ever heard of who dredged up the old chestnut of bias and had to be put in his place for impertinence. I think Ian and I could work very closely together in the interests of the BBC. I know he never reads this blog anyway. I know this because a colleague asked him if he’d seen my coverage of the bias affair and he shouted: ‘Don’t speak to me about that bloody blog’ and put his fingers in his ears.

The job is directly related to the referendum and independence, which is funny because that’s exactly what I said a few posts ago. I said they had misjudged it and needed strategy advice. I said it wasn’t business as usual as they claimed and pointed out they had no one in the team who was the voice or face of BBC Scotland who could represent them to the wider world. It must just be coincidence that they’ve reached the same conclusion now.

I was pleased but puzzled to read they want someone who can ‘build and establish trusted and effective working relationships with key parliamentary, government and corporate stakeholders’ as that’s what I said they weren’t doing. In fact I said it was a signal failing of the Director McQuarrie that he had no on-going personal relationship with his greatest ally in Scotland, the First Minister.

‘Must be able to deal with a wide range of people with tact and diplomacy’. (I’ll give Ian a wee lesson in letter-writing to innocent academics)

There’s a reference to dealing with complaints about referendum issues but to be honest I think the old method’s the best…Dear Sir/Madam, Fuck off, Yours sincerely.

I also suspect that since none of the high heid yins are remotely effective at answering questions that this appointee may find him/herself fronting up before MSPs to save senior execs the bother. To be fair, I was told that there was no initial plan on the media committee to investigate BBC Scotland until John Boothman gave evidence. He appeared so shifty, they thought he must be hiding something and there was unanimous cross-party support for a full inquiry.

Mind you, two hard facts emerge from reading this. First, it is Grade 10 in the BBC pay scale. Now that’s the top of the range for a programme-making journalist – as in an Editor – but it is below management, so anyone on the outside dealing with this person will know they have no real clout. It means they are officially not a decision-maker but mostly a messenger. The other people who know this are the BBC bosses themselves which means, if for example, bad news comes back from Holyrood about the quality of Radio Scotland, the Head of Radio, our chum jolly Jeff Zycinski will brush it aside and carry on regardless. Only an executive with authority cannot be ignored.

Secondly, my heart bleeds that £50,000 can be found for a corporate position, one that does management’s job for them, when the same people sacked 35 journalists, ridding the BBC of experience and quality at the very time in its history it was most needed.

If they wanted a human shield, why not save money by asking Brian Taylor, their best connected and most respected political staffer, to take on the role? This is a sign of crisis management. If such a person was envisaged why wait until six months before the vote? Why not two years ago when, as I say, all the planning should have been done. Dysfunctional? You bet. But how else would you want them to spend your money…making Scottish programmes?

(I’m trying to think where I left my suit…and where’s that application form?)

*Just been made up to full Professor at UWS. Now Professor John W Robertson, Convenor: CCI Research Ethics Committee, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of the West of Scotland. week done him. Must be for services to broadcasting…

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Chocs Away…!

The attack begins…

Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C: Hello, “M Mother” are you there?

Flight Lt. J.V. Hopgood, DFC: I’m here, Leader

Squadron Leader H.M. Young, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flight Lt. D.J.H. Maltby, DSO, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flight Lt. D.J. Shannon, DSO, DFC: Here, Leader

Squadron Leader H.E. Maudslay, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flying Officer L.G. Knight, DSO: Here, Leader.

Gibson: Hello, all Cooler aircraft. I’m going in to attack. Stand by to come in in your order when I tell you….

He points the nose down towards the dam wall. Cue music…

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Isn’t it telling that the Coalition is calling the latest stage of its terror campaign The Dambusters after a Second World War murderous attack that flooded the Ruhr and killed over a thousand? Identifying a political campaign with the British war effort is one of those unthinking moments that provides an insight into how the British machine still regards itself. And, in passing, it confirms what people like me have been saying – that this is a political campaign in which the finance sector is participating, whatever Standard Life’s allegedly neutral words indicate.

After the Currency Denial comes the bouncing bombs of the financiers and bankers crashing into the credibility of the plan to free Scots from the control of the profiteering classes and create a more equal Scotland. Boom! Goes your currency…Crash! Goes your financial centre…Take that you blighters!

We call it the Dambusters after the movie but the operation was, even more appropriately, called Operation Chastise. Oh yes, that’s the Union game right there…teach them a lesson they won’t forget.

The history is also a metaphor because there were two unforeseen side effects. First, the largest group killed as the Mohne and the Eder poured millions of tons of water into the Ruhr Valley were on our side. They were nearly 800 Ukranian prisoners of war held in a camp just below the Eder Dam. They were collateral damage, just as those Scots will be after a No vote who are again left at the mercy of the Tory government, unprotected by their allies the Labour Party. Others to suffer will be Scots embittered at the closing of the ranks among the Unionist elite who finally realise that the partnership of the Union was a myth.

Secondly, the raid failed. It was initially seen as a success in that it hit key dams and released torrents of water and disrupted German engineering. The crews – those that made it, 50-odd men didn’t – came home, rightly, to heroes’ welcomes and, for Guy Gibson a Victoria Cross. But they failed to hit the third Sorpe dam which would have been devastating. Instead the water levels were back to normal in six weeks and war production resumed. So sometimes, what appears to be a success at first, turns out in time to be anything but.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Unionists are having a morale boost and on the BBC it is now a sly joke among presenters to drop in a final question to…well anybody, really. ‘What’s your take on independence?’ It is as if it is now safe to ask since the great cloud has been lifted and the powers to which the Unionists defer, the City, the Treasury and, bizarrely, Barroso, have hit back and stopped the movement in its tracks. (I liked the airline boss’s reply which didn’t follow the script by telling them passenger duty and landing fees would probably reduce so it would be good for business). That answer inadvertantly gave one small perspective on the wider question which hasn’t occurred to any BBC commentator I’ve seen or heard. They have no idea and no interest in SNP or the wider Yes policies and have minds closed to anything other than the conventional,  deferential rote of honouring establishment power. If you have a title, you get automatic respect from the national broadcaster, no matter what you actually say. I think only Scot Angus Roxburgh in the London media (Guardian) and hardly anyone in Scotland actually tackled the content and implication of what Barroso said and challenged his role in saying it, not even the accoladed Andy Marr. Instead of fawning, it is their duty to us, the licence-fee payers, to challenge and scrutinise and it is proving beyond them.

There is too the long-term close association between Scottish media and the financial sector. When I was in newspapers we went to virtually every company announcement by banks and insurers, were treated royally and in return their pronouncements were given prominence. At that time there was some justification as some of these outfits were historically successful and, while boring, a source of pride. Connections forged then have influenced many of the commentators you read today. Financial institutions could afford lavish largesse in the form of lunches in the boardroom, golf outings, sponsorship and match tickets, some of which still goes on today…buying loyalty or at the very least making it that little bit harder to write a strongly critical piece. One well-known Edinburgh-based financial journalist told me how reporters were made aware of a building society – I think it was Abbey National, now part of Santander – who quietly offered them low interest mortgages. In return, he said, nobody ever wrote a bad word about them.

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Longer term, on the ground, does a millionaire financier warning of leaving really scare the mass of Scots? Will banks who ruined people’s lives and still receive life-changing sums every year provide the leadership for people stuck on poverty wages, eking out a living on two jobs, surviving in stressed-out families? Will these people look to the Labour party leaping with joy at such threats along with the City and the Tories and imagine they remain on their side?

It wasn’t the feeling at the Yes meeting in Gilmerton in Edinburgh that I chaired last night where there was an anger and a resentment at being put in their place, kept down and lectured by politicians who have abandoned what they regard as the core values of their lives. There were stories of friends and family fighting to retain much needed benefits and an openness to egalitarian ideas that, far from being impossible to put in place, simply require the political will to introduce once the power is returned into the hands of the Scots. There was also news which I won’t repeat in detail because it’s likely to feature in the weekend press, about canvassing returns from some our housing estates which suggest a rising tide of support for a transformative Yes. These are Scots untouched by Standard Life pension and insurance policies. Their war generation parents probably expected that when the war was over they would live in peace, the peace they  fought for. For too many thousands of our fellow Scots their daily life is a war and in six month’s, for the first time in their lives, they will hold the power in their hands from 7am to 10pm to change that world for ever.

Now, how does that Dambusters theme tune go?

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Standard Procedure

Standard Life – Standard Procedure. What did you expect from a financial company – altruism? Presented with any change they can’t manage themselves, they panic. Oh yes, the do have to plan for eventualities, but they don’t need to make public announcements coordinated with a political campaign.

Notice how early warnings were issued to selected media including the BBC’s Robert Peston who worked hand-in-glove with Alistair Darling’s Treasury during the financial meltdown to get daily exclusives. He was on air this morning claiming special access – who would organise that? Is it significant that this “politically neutral” company was in recent weeks having its executive board undergo media training in case they faced interview?

And on Radio Four the thunderclap of doom was applied by James Naughtie from Edinburgh, transformed for the day from news presenter into Scotland correspondent, analysing the implications and calling Standard Life one of the Edinburgh “family”. The tone was set by the Today presenter whose opening question to him was: ‘So Jim, just how bad is this for the Yes campaign?’ That question tells you the BBC already had its narrative in place otherwise, as an impartial interviewer, she would have asked: ‘What’s the significance of this?’ It’s a subtle difference which gives the game away – London has made its mind up and is thrilled at having the nationalists on the run.

But are they right? For as Peston himself writes: ‘What brought this issue to a head for the company was the recent declaration by Chancellor George Osborne, Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls and the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, that they would all oppose formal monetary union with Scotland.’ Exactly. The contrived opposition to the logical course for the currency is the reason there is uncertainty yet it seems Standard Life is blaming instead the lack of a credible alternative. It seems no matter what Scotland does, it loses.

But there are unanswered questions here. This is NOT a declaration of departure, it is a statement outlining an alternative approach, presumably in response to shareholder requests for clarity caused originally by the independence campaign but deliberately fanned – undeniably so – by the British government refusing to negotiate in good faith as any administration should when  faced with a non-violent, constitutional democratic movement for change.

These questions of uncertainty are clearly the responsibility of the No side designed as a political response, not an economic response.

I see nothing in the words issued which indicates that this company has sought clarification from either side.

Have they asked the Scottish government for reassurance on currency or just read the papers?

Have they asked for private discussions on the tax regime?

How much will it cost to relocate, to make redundancies and find new premises?

How can it operate in 50 countries with dozens of currencies but not in Scotland?*

Have they read the White Paper, which has a long and detailed outline of the regulatory proposals?

Have they asked the British government why it has ruled out a currency union, consequently putting the company in this predicament? I

If they are concerned about EU membership, why haven’t they mentioned the UK IN/Out referendum, or doesn’t that concern them?

Have they asked the British to comply with the EU’s offer of legal clarification on membership?

Has Standard Life consulted its own staff? Or has it unsettled them by openly discussing leaving? Is this corporate responsibility, is it duty of care?

I think the answers are all negative. Yet they have gone ahead to form holding companies in England. That is the clearest indication that far from neutrality, Standard Life has adopted an active programme of anglicisation and set its face against independence. Interestingly, nobody on either side is saying otherwise. They have identified themselves as English first and Scottish second, because they are by definition happy with whatever London decides on regulation, interest rates or taxation as they haven’t raised any questions with them, yet we know there will be tax increases whoever wins the next general election and Europe is moving towards a unified regulatory system and we don’t know if London be in or out. Only they’ll have to think fast if there’s a Yes vote.

It does seem a pity since what they company is calling for, as in clarification on these issues, is exactly what the Scottish government has demanded but has not received.

And doesn’t it turn your stomach as a Scot that a company started here and which has traded on its Scottish roots can dismiss its origins and associations midway through a political campaign? Have they no inherent pride in their company’s background…no belief that the Scots will find a way of sorting out our constitutional issues…have they forgotten how Scots rallied to support their mutual status 14 years ago, including all parties of MSPs?

You can understand a company sitting down after a democratic vote and looking at their interests but when you are Scottish by definition, it is surely incumbent to treat your own country with more respect than this. But then we know how debased the idea of finance has become in Scotland when the same greedy types ran RBS and sold out Bank of Scotland to Halifax. And after the Crash, there can few, if any, who retain admiration of any kind for the incompetents and crooks and overreached themselves in search of more profit.

This has become the recent hallmark of Standard Life. You may remember that while Scots suffered austerity, the executives under David Nish, pocketed millions in pay and bonuses.

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Nish saw his pay packet almost double, just months after the firm announced 490 job losses. He received a basic salary of £720,000, a bonus of  £1.05 million, pension contributions of £179,000 and a further ‘benefit’ of £17,000. Unite union official Paul Neilson said: ‘These pay levels are obscene.’

Pat Connolly, Chase De Vere, said payouts on endowment policies have again been cut and overall returns remain much lower than they were five or six years ago .

‘Standard Life remains an average, middle-of-the-road with-profits provider…existing investors should take this opportunity to review their policies.”

And they have form in this duplicitous handling of customers and their own millionaire salaries. In March 2007 the company announced it would cut 1000 jobs in an attempt to save an additional £100 million per year in costs and a month later it was highlighted in the company’s annual report that three of Standard Life’s top executives were awarded more than £5 million in pay. You can see who these people are really interest in and it isn’t the Scots.

They haven’t been scrupulous either in their activities. A few years ago they were fined for dodgy behaviour. The Financial Services Authority hit them with a £2.45 million fine over the Sterling Pension fund fiasco, in which a fund was advertised   as wholly invested in cash when in fact it was heavily invested in floating rate notes. Guess what? No one lost their job. ‘The FSA has identified that there were flaws in both our systems and controls however they have not identified any particular individuals. No heads are going to roll on the back of this fine from the FSA,’ they said. So, if we ever were dealing with moneymen on the side of the angels – and they did welcome devolution in in the 90’s – those days are long gone. Profit before patriotism is their motto.

We can expect more of this pro-Union outing. Weir Group will follow them I think. You know Weir, engineers and bribers of Saddam.

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‘Glasgow-based engineering firm Weir Group admitted paying kickbacks to the dictator’s government a decade ago to secure lucrative business contracts. The High Court in Edinburgh heard this had contravened the Oil For Food programme aimed at helping Iraqis. Judge Lord Carloway also confiscated £13.9m of illegal profits from Weir.’ (I think it gives a little perspective when they lecture us about our democratic responsibilities). You could also remember that they can avoid tax – unlike you – by using offshore subsidiaries. From the Guardian: Lord Robertson, the former defence secretary and Nato secretary general, is a non-executive director of the Glasgow-based engineering firm Weir Group, which has subsidiaries in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. He is also deputy chairman of the board of the Russian oil company TNK-BP, registered in the British Virgin Islands. Not bad for a former GMB official, eh?

I liked the following quote from 2000 when financial companies were hinting they were unhappy about devolution. Happily Standard Life and Scottish Widows indicated they were relaxed and plain George Robertson MP said: “It’s a bombshell which blows apart the Tory campaign efforts in Scotland since it shows that Scottish business is not taken in by Treasury scaremongering.” Would he like to repeat that today?

I think what the Standard Life business does is confirm for the fearties that they were right to be concerned. They would have considered a Yes so long as nobody objected and waved them through but they haven’t the stomach for their own independence. They would always wilt and vote No. But the real prize here is that it confirms more surely than ever that No is corporate, moneyed and selfish. Its largest support is outside Scotland, it’s money comes from the millionaires, even it’s boss Alistair Darling fills his pockets with corporate dosh on top of his full-time MP’s salary.

This is diktat. It is a sharp reminder of how Britain is structured and how it works and why we must get out and rebuild our own country. Corporate entities like Standard Life don’t care about Scotland or the Scots as they have confirmed today. They care about profits and will go anywhere and do anything to get them. They epitomize everything the burgeoning new democracy movement stands against. Forget their threats, they are  another reason for voting Yes.

*One of those countries is Canada where the Standard Life head office is located in Montreal, Quebec, a place with a long history of separatists government and campaigning. It hasn’t bothered SL. Quebec even has different tax rates for personal, sales and corporate purposes and there isn’t a cheep of complaint from Standard Life who manage just fine.

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Pensions: Britain’s Ponzi Scheme

What’s going to happen to your pension, the Unionists like to ask. It’s a very good question and they’ve managed to spin it relentlessly to frighten pensioners into thinking Scotland couldn’t afford to pay its way.

 

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Like so much else in this debate, the case is built on a myth. It pre-supposes that Britain’s current arrangements are rock-solid and sustainable…carried aloft on David Cameron’s broad shoulders.

Reform Scotland’s report this week is the latest to demonstrate just how threadbare the Unionist case is and how reckless they have been with the wealth of the nation. There is a welter of evidence now that Britain’s pension provision is an elaborate Ponzi scheme heading for its day of denouement.

The truth is that there is no mammoth national pension pot earning interest through judicious investments in order to pay out to retired public sector workers and the general population of old age pensioners. As Reform says, ‘today’s national insurance contributions and employee contributions almost entirely pay for today’s pensioners. They are not going to a personal pot for the employee who’s paying them. Politicians have been engaged in a conspiracy of silence on this issue and they must now begin to be more open about the situation in which we find ourselves. People deserve to know where their money is going and what their future prospects are.’ Well, here’s a clue. The Intergenertional Foundation asked 50 economists what they thought would happen to British pensions.

Under the title Can the UK Afford to Pay off Pensions, it says that on top of its sovereign debt now reaching £1.3 trillion, the UK also has far greater liabilities to public sector retirees and general OAPs amounting to nearly £5 trillion (£1.2 for the state workers fund and £3.84 tr for OAPs). That is the ongoing cost of paying our non-private pensions which will have to be met by today’s and future generations.

Of the public sector pensions bill, it says, only 25 per cent (of the £1.2tr) is funded. So that the government has reserves amounting to only a quarter of the amount needed to service the pensions, leaving the rest, three-quarters to come from current revenue – tax receipts and National Insurance.

For the much larger amount needed to pay for the state pension – the £3.84 tr – there are no reserves at all…no savings, no investments accuring interest, nothing but taxes paid today by you and me which should be used for current spending. Pension costs should be met from historic savings built up over decades of National Insurance payments and government investments, including a fund using our own North Sea oil. During periods of plenty, when Thatcher had the oil and Brown had the housing boom, exceptional receipts should have been saved for the benefit of the nation. Instead Britain, now telling us they know best and have the clout to carry the economy that we don’t have, simply spent it, much of it on lowering taxes. They have left a generational burden on young people today and their children and their children’s children to pay for the benefits we get now. Meanwhile, as they get the bill for us, they will be unable to put enough away for themselves. Clever, eh?

‘It seems reasonable to ask whether this is feasible, especially in light of Britain’s worsening demographic outlook as the population ages’, says the Foundation in an uncomfortable reminder for Better Together of the reality of bankrupt Britain.

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So the foundation asked the economists two questions. ‘According to the ONS, Britain currently has £1.2 trillion worth of public-sector pension liabilities, three-quarters of which are unfunded. 1 What do you think is the likelihood that these will all be paid in full?

In Britain the state pension is currently paid regardless of other income and assets. However, in some other countries (including Australia) it is means-tested. 2 Do you think means-testing of the state pension is likely to be introduced before 2040?

The answers were 36 of the 50 respondents (75%) said they thought that the UK’s public-sector pension liabilities would not be paid in full.

Almost half (46%) of the respondents said that they thought the basic state pension would have become means-tested by 2040.

Does that sound like a solid base to guarantee your pension? If you area pensioner Don’t Know worried about your income after independence, shouldn’t you think hard about what will happen without independence. Remember, the Unionists are promising another £25 billion of cuts to spending.

Here are some quotes from the economic experts.

The likelihood that these liabilities will be paid in full is as close to zero as statistics allow. In fact, the ONS data don’t really tell half the story. To illustrate, in order to finance existing- law pension, healthcare and long-term care commitments for the next 50 years, the government would need to have nearly 4.5 times the current value of GDP in the bank, earning interest that’s reinvested each year. This is simply to recognise the enormous funding that our demographic transition will require, and that the burden rises every year corrective actions are deferred. The only way the nation can restore some semblance of budgetary stability, and meet (restructured) obligations is via some combination of social programme reforms to limit the rise in costs, tax increases, and higher economic growth, derived from faster growth in productivity.’

Effective default through cutting benefits, means testing, higher tax, restricted eligibility etc is certain.

The next financial crisis will be a pension crisis

Lower proportions of current 20-year-olds supporting a larger number of pensioners means that unfunded benefits will have to be met through rises in taxes. This will not be tolerated by a generation that has already been disadvantaged by the generation above.

Using a more robust discount rate, these liabilities are far greater than £1.2 trillion. Despite the perceived strength of the covenant, there is a strong possibility that these will not be paid in full someway down the line.

There is a near zero risk of a UK sovereign debt default – say 5% to 10%. However, it is more likely that there will be a covert default engineered via high inflation, as in the 1970s. Current UK fiscal policy is not sustainable. Taxes are at their feasible limit, and spending commitments cannot be met.

Not quite the Better Together/George Osborne mantra, is it? Remember too that Gordon Brown slashed British private pensions by removing £5bn a year from our pension funds, now amounting to £100bn. According to Brewin Dolphin a 40 year old man planning to retire in 25 years making monthly contributions of £250 to add to his current £60,000 pension pot will eventually lose more than £120,000 on the final value. He’d have to work an extra two years into old age to make this up. Gordon is now Better Together’s pensions expert.

Meanwhile I’m not sure we could do much worse than the scandalously reckless and incompetent Whitehall regime that leaves us with one of the lowest pensions in Europe. Here’s is Business Scotland’s proposal – to collectivise into one “super fund” all the occupational pension schemes which have members who are employed in Scotland This includes private and public sector schemes as well as defined benefit and defined contributions schemes.

The fund will be the source of pension payments to Scotland’s citizens when they retire. Benefits will be based on earnings, so the scheme will be of a defined benefits character for all. The scheme will cover all citizens whether they are currently in a pension scheme or not.

The fund will be invested to support a fairer, greener and environmental sustainable economy

The fund will be managed by a National Board of Trustees whose responsibilities will be to protect the long-term viability and financial sustainability of the fund.

And since we can put off the day when retirement age has to go up, we can give an immediate rise to pensions on independence. This is based on evidence that Scots die younger than the UK average so are penalized by getting their pension later – a stark actuarial and demographic fact that caused mock amazement from Johann Lamont on STV – the woman whose party is responsible for those early deaths by representing areas like Calton for decades at every level of government without an anti poverty programme and who still believes the Union, bankrupt and mendacious in its pensions policy, is to the way to prosperity in old age. Over 60 per cent of Scots polled disagreed.

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Lamont Wins!

If there’s been a worse “debate” anywhere, I missed it. Not since I lost my seven-year-old’s Furby have I heard so many irrational and angry meaningless words exchanged as we had in the STV debate with Sturgeon and Lamont. It wasn’t a debate at all. It didn’t even count as a stairheid rammy since nobody landed one meaningful point. I’m ashamed to say my mind drifted to old political corrs I’ve known who would have smiled and said: ‘See what you get when you put three women in a room and shout Politics!’

If you expect two people to argue you need to prepare for talking-over and therefore you start with an early yellow card and cut dead the interruptions. That didn’t happen. You can argue all you like about Johann not answering – and I do think her failure on Trident is a totally unnecessary own goal – or her lack of constituency knowledge on shipyards – unbelievable – the truth is that the people needed to watch this, the Undecideds, will have switched over after 10 minutes. The impression this left of our politics in general and our referendum in particular was a bit embarrassing and they should agree never to behave like Sauchiehall Street drunks again.

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The net effect is that the Don’t Knows will have turned off both to the debate and the referendum and if there was voting tomorrow would decide to stay in bed. That is a definite win for NO. The fewer who vote, the better for them and I can’t remember a bigger turn-off since Jimmy Krankie wore a bikini in Aladdin

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