You Have Been Warned *Update* See Below

The ToryLabourLibDem Troika, having delighted the Dependence Twitterati with their currency strike, have created a massive problem for themselves. They don’t consult, they combine to say No – against all reason – they resist well-argued Scottish logic. So, if this is how they treat the Scots in an area where we share an asset, who can trust them to deliver increased powers?

When Labour can abandon its position on protecting living standards in order to join with the Coalition cutters, what price their promise of more devolution? If jointly the Westminster parties can deny what is rightfully ours when it suits them, why would we believe any of them when they dangle Devo Max?

This display of resistance at a plan they dislike, shows what Scotland is up against when trying to prize more powers out of Westminster. They have set some precedent. There is no length they won’t go to in taking on the Scots and the scorn explicit in this week’s team snub of reasonable – and with the debt, generous offer – is a clue to what we can expect after a No vote. They have introduced a note of punishment for our impudence that should serve as a sharp reminder of how important it is, in their eyes, to stand up and be counted. They have made clear, as has Barroso, that it is only the nation state – a sovereign Scotland – that commands their respect. Remain a region and they’ll walk all over you.

There is now a distinct smell in the air that if they can act so brutally by closing off without negotiation a key area of mutual interest and in the process shred the Edinburgh Agreement, then they can throw extra powers into the dustbin after they win the referendum. Who will ever again listen respectfully to Osborne, Cameron, Balls, Miliband or…if they ever did…to Alexander when they implore us for our trust, that they will deliver more powers, or say the Union is a partnership when we know from their actions they treat us like their estate workers. I think this must be a constant strand of argument no matter which area of government is under discussion. They have proved we can’t trust them – any of them. And as we now know they won’t produce a joint policy on additional powers, their alternative offer is insultingly unconvincing.

We are being blocked from a sensible option by an obdurate and bellicose government in an all-party Unionist front. It shows precisely how they regard the Union and Britain – as theirs to do with as they wish and us as people of a lesser status. This is core to the debate and blows away all the technocratic stuff and puts centre stage the basic questions – are you prepared to be pushed around like this? Is this what the Union stands for? Do you agree Scotland is an inferior partner of the UK? Do they sound like reasonable people who will give you Devo Max? If they look down on a national region, doesn’t it show that we need sovereignty to defend ourselves? Is this the Britain you have been happy to be part of or is Scotland really your country, not Britain at all? Voting Yes begins to sound imperative.

And this takes me back to the Labour Yes voters I wrote about weeks ago. They are worried that if the vote for Yes is too low, Westminster will disregard the outcome and bin extra powers. The need for them to back Yes is more pressing today because it is clearer what is at stake.

Hands off Tim Reid! A BBC correspondent gets a call to Downing Street to be gifted a big story and he’s expected to do what? Demur? I’d love the conversation with the newsroom. “Yeah, they told me Osborne is joining forces with Balls and Alexander and will rule our currency union…so I said You’re not using me as a conduit for your political campaign, give it to somebody else, you chancers…”

What’s a reporter to do? It was, after all, true. It all came to pass and it was a global story. Reid got the credit for it although not from the News at Ten where the presenter introduced Nick Robinson with the words: “Nick, you broke this story…” And Nick said nothing!

So was the BBC manipulated? Of course. That’s how the lobby system works. Minister or aide whispers in journalist’s ear, journalist writes story or broadcasts it and the hare is off and running. The question is: Should the BBC have spent two days building it up before anything was said? Yes. How could they not? You can’t un-know something and you can’t credibly let every other outlet run with your story and not do so yourself.  The real issue here is surely how it was then dealt with because having ownership of a story and with so many hours to work on it rather demands intense scrutiny, in my mind. Instead of just bursting on you in the morning and forcing everyone to scurry around getting on air, in this case there was more than enough time ahead of the statement to do some serious investigative work on what was going on, on how voters would react, how currency works, experience elsewhere, impact on the UK. Maybe even Johan Lamont’s reaction – only joking.

I didn’t get much sense of depth in BBC Scotland’s coverage up to the announcement and I would like to hear an on-air statement pointing out that a request for interview was put in but rejected. STV were exactly right to make that point about the parachute policy of the UK government. It isn’t just that they don’t want to be caught out on camera not having acceptable answers, they don’t want to be caught on camera at all. A speech is one thing, but an intimate camera in the face capturing every squirm and reminding us of who is behind the Union campaign is not a good PR idea.

Consider too that the Scottish government has the same power over the media – pro Union or not. If they wanted to they can play the same game by summoning a journalist and offering an exclusive…” the Scottish Government will definitely not agree to pay part of Britain’s debt” could have been an example. Nobody would have refused to publish and, offered to the right outlet, it would have been spun positively.

This is a campaign. In that respect it is a game and time and gain one side gets the better of the other. Yes campaigners should be asking why.

The reaction has been grand sport both to the currency  issue and the latest Barroso outburst which have been linked by the media implying a coordinated effort, although I doubt that personally.  Laughably, Barroso was in the UK ahead of the European elections and trying to convince us to stay good Europeans…and not to listen to UKIP and Cameron…exactly what Scotland is trying to do!

I liked Angus Roxburgh in the Guardian  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/20/scotlands-eu-bombshell-bunkum-barroso  pinning the issue neatly and hitting a button most of the media just don’t reach.

‘Barroso was asked whether the commission could confirm the “view” (sic) expressed by his predecessor Romano Prodi in 2004, to the effect that “a newly independent region would become a third party with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of independence, not apply any more on its territory”. Yes, replied Barroso, he could confirm this because “the legal context has not changed since 2004 as the Lisbon treaty has not introduced any change in this respect”.

Alarm bells should have clamoured in the ears of everyone with the slightest knowledge of the EU. Of course the Lisbon treaty did not change the legal context regarding this issue – because the Lisbon treaty has nothing whatsoever to say on the matter! Lisbon deals with many important things (including how a member state might withdraw from the Union), but not the question of what happens with a region that secedes from an EU state. It’s like saying, your gas bill has not been affected by recent changes to the mobile phone network. True, but daft.

So why did he say it? In letter after letter to the commission I have pleaded with them to spell out to me what “legal context” Barroso was referring to. Which treaty article or EU law did he have in mind? No reply.

I asked whether Prodi’s “view” (the thing that Barroso confirmed) had any legal status, or was it really just his opinion. Again, an eloquent silence.

I asked them to confirm that in fact there is no provision in EU law to deal with the situation that will arise if part of a member state secedes. No reply.

I put it to them that in such a circumstance, the member state itself would have to renegotiate its membership terms (number of seats in the European parliament, votes in the council, contribution to the budget etc), and that during that period of negotiation it would surely be possible for the seceding territory (prior to its actual declaration of independence) simultaneously to negotiate its own terms of membership. No reply.

The commission, I was told, “will only be able to express its opinion on the legal consequences under EU law of a specific situation upon request from a member state detailing a precise scenario”.

Why? It is the European commission’s job to interpret EU law. That’s what it exists for, and it does it every day, without being prevailed upon by member states. And yet in this historic situation it refuses to clarify to the Scottish people what a vote for independence would actually mean. Instead, it uses weasel words patently designed to influence the vote.’ Precisely. Barroso, whether he is right or wrong, is playing politics and undermining the EU’s authority and, I suspect, it’s reputation in Scotland. (I too have written to Commission officials asking for answers to specific points but if they won’t answer Roxburgh’s, they won’t answer mine).

Pity the Guardian continued its anti-SNP tone with another leader  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/17/scotland-future-salmond-denial cavilling about Salmond’s seemingly hollow speech. Surely what is happening is that he is only speaking to us, the Scots, to hammer home the idea that we are being robbed of something that is rightfully ours and whatever we finally decide to do about currency, this has to remain upper most in our mind.

Salmond must ensure this lesson is learned but it is also important that he continues to open up the idea of a currency without monetary union. It simply isn’t sustainable to stay in denial and the Guardian view – that all else is hot air – will prevail until there is an alternative. That isn’t just following a Better Together narrative, it is key to convincing Scottish voters to have belief that there is a credible option that won’t harm them. It is twin-track – relentlessly blaming the UK for denial of rights in a vindictive and aggressive act while pointing to the next best option, adding the rider than actually, this has real attractions too. When Darling pops up frothing at the alternative the penny will drop with the voters – this man won’t accept any option. All he does is demand you pick a number and then he rubbishes it. That is credibility-grating in the yes of the voters. Salmond can take the morale high ground here and drive further the idea that London – the government, the parties and, in this case, even the Civil Service, are conspiring against us.

If you want some type of confirmation of this, I suggest you check out David Maddox in the Scotsman.  http://www.scotsman.com/news/david-maddox-no-really-means-no-over-currency-1-3309833

This makes extraordinary assertions including that London believes through its release of “government papers” it has won the heads of the Scots. All it has to do now is win their hearts…are you following this? ‘They believe the battle of the head is won. They also feel that they bend over backwards to keep Scotland happy so it will stay in the UK through devolution, a generous settlement in the Barnett Formula and a high representation in Westminster.’ Bend over backwards?! I have been accused of being subsidised when I’m a net contributor, I’ve had my oil money removed and not a penny saved, our farmers have just been robbed of their EU cash, my steel industry and pits were shut, my fiscal policy is shaped for the bankers, I didn’t have a pay rise for five years because they screwed up the economy, they’re threatening to take their money out of our renewables and I don’t want representation at Westminster…

I don’t want a Barnett formula either.  I want to raise all my own taxes and I don’t have a West Lothian Question because I don’t want a vote on their privatised health service or their parent-run free schools…

How could a Scottish political journalist write this as if it might be fact? Is he so removed from the realities of this country that he thinks only in Westminster-speak?

It gets worse. Read this: ‘Where they think they could lose is in the battle of the heart. This is why Prime Minister David Cameron made his appeal for the rest of the UK to love-bomb Scotland. But this analysis is leading to a conclusion, not publicly expressed, that if Scotland does leave, then it is because Scots simply do not like their neighbours – a view fuelled by SNP rhetoric.’

Get it? They have done everything they could to help the ingrates to the point where its only hatred of the English that can positively justify their continued complaints…

I can’t believe this quasi-racist English supremacist – and deeply inaccurate – garbage is published in Scotland. This briefing should have been used to pour scorn of a ruling elite deluding themselves. What if Salmond had made such self-serving claims? Would have been presented as an intelligent feature item or blasted in ridicule across the front?

And then, the poor soul offers us this: ‘Given this mood music in Westminster, if Scots do vote Yes, there is likely to be a ruthless assertion of national interest by the larger state. So saying “no” to sharing the pound is just the beginning. Tory Home Secretary Theresa May has talked about border posts, Tory Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has questioned allowing Scotland into Nato, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has talked about moving Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters to London. If Scotland does not share the debt, there could be worse in the form of a total asset grab, potentially even including North Sea oil and gas which, courtesy of the Callaghan government, is in a fifth part of the UK – the continental shelf – and not formally part of Scotland.’

So the wave of threats will continue unabated, all reported in advance in a national newspaper which doesn’t question one word of it, either the accuracy (prevent us joining NATO, Border posts? RBS moving – now specifically denied?) and seemingly accepted by the editor as a fair piece of analysis. Taking all the oil?

Apart from the ludicrous assertion that idea implies in international law, are we to believe that the Scotsman itself has no problem with this, no sense of outrage, no booming editorial standing up for the rights of the Scots the paper was started all those years ago to serve? NO, is the answer because it’s leader column plays London’s game to the hilt. And even, in a profound irony in light of the Maddox article, manages to blame Salmond of making threats. ‘To threaten that in retaliation, Scotland will not take on any share of the UK debt built up while Scotland was a member of the Union is vacuous’.

Unbelievable. Actually un-Scottish is a better term. Can you imagine anywhere else on earth where a country is threatened this way including removal of its oil assets and its national newspaper doesn’t raise a murmur? It actually indicates clearly it agrees that it should be bullied. I write about national pride being part of this debate. Far from pride, some of our press hasn’t even got a backbone. There is talk in the steamie – and I’ve had two sources say it now – that the Scotsman is to cease publishing as a daily newspaper because it can’t afford to carry on. It might, runs the theory, publish weekly, on a Thursday. What a climb down that would be for what was one a venerated institution with an international reputation. When I worked there it meant something. You were proud to call yourself a Scotsman Reporter. It’s where I started 45 years ago and I owe them a lot but it only makes the pain harder to bear when I read it today. There was a greater sense of Scottishness and desire for self-determination in the paper in those days, and especially in the 1979 referendum, than they have today. Where are the Neal Achersons and the Chris Baurs of our age?

I add here a few lines from someone who is always worth listening to – the tax expert Richard Murphy at http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/  for a money man’s take on Barroso’s ramblings.

‘I am surprised that Jose Barroso of the EU has said that Scotland would have to re-apply for membership of the EU if it voted for independence but omitted what seems to me to be quite an important detail.

The detail he omitted seems to me to be that if he is right then surely the remaining part of the United Kingdom would also have to apply for membership as well?

I cannot quite see why it is assumed that if the United Kingdom split Scotland would be a new state but the remaining bit (surely, not then the United Kingdom, almost by definition) would carry on as before.

Making this assumption the EU appears to make very clear that it thinks that Scotland is not now a separate country, and yet it has some very clearly defined characteristics, such as a separate legal system that pre-existed its joining the UK that clearly indicate that it is. It also has a very obvious independent history. But the EU logic is that Scotland is simply a province and not a partner when the very name of the UK implies not.

And what I cannot quite accept is the EU logic that if the UK splits then England is the heir. This appears to me to have dubious foundation in logic that is worrying even if the Union survives and suggests that it will need to take a very different form if it does, that may actually be harder to manage.’

So it’s not all anti-Scottish out there even if our own press struggles to find its kilt.

**I quoted Angus Roxburgh earlier. These are quotes from his latest piece in the Guardian about Barroso’s interventions. The full version is at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/scottish-referendum-independent-scaremongering-eu

‘Now, it seems, if we dare to express this unique and much-loved identity of ours by voting for independence in September, we will be outcasts. Nobody would want us in the European Union or Nato, and what used to be known as a land of canny bankers wouldn’t be trusted with the British pound….In every instance, I find myself asking (and wondering why BBC interviewers do not ask): why are all these politicians suggesting that Scotland should be cast out when sheer self-interest and common sense would dictate the opposite? Why, Mr Barroso, would the EU expel a country that has been a member for 40 years, and which has already transposed all EU legislation into Scottish law, knowing that this would cause utter havoc – not just for Scotland, but for all the other member states? Why, Mr Osborne, would you refuse to share a currency when it would be in the interests of British business to do so?

There are seven months to go to the referendum. Let’s quit the scaremongering, and accept one thing: if the Scots democratically choose independence, then Brussels, London, and all global institutions will accept this and work to make it happen. Not for Scotland’s sake, but for their own. No one is going to throw us out.’ He is a seasoned international observer with intimate knowledge of the EU.

Here’s is another view, this time from Neil Walker, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh. He is writing this in the Constitutional Law Association blog UK Constitutional Law Association comment+e6xwnpc33–9lqq4rzt40r4@comment.wordpress.com. (Well worth reading in full).

‘What is glaringly absent from the debate, both in the  knowing buck-passing of Barroso’s intervention and in the broader silence of the EU’s main movers and players on the Scottish question, is the articulation of any kind of public philosophy that would provide good reasons, rather than simply motivations of base political self interest, why an independent Scotland should or should not be welcomed with open arms. How, precisely, is the EU, still resolved by common commitment of the member states in the preamble to the Treaty on European Union ‘ to  continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity’, to justify the exclusion of an independent Scotland? Why should  a country of 5  million citizens, who  have also been EU citizens for 40 years and who have expressed no desire to leave the European Union, be treated less  generously than the 110 million new EU  citizens – over 20% of the EU’s total population – who have joined from Central and Eastern Europe since 2004? Why should Scottish citizens instead be placed in the same category of Kosovo, or any other potential candidate from beyond the Union’s distant borders?

Here, the Edinburgh Agreement reflects the preparedness of the UK’s flexible constitution to accommodate the prospect of independence. So for the EU to set its face against Scottish independence would be to dismiss the significance of the member state’s own recognition of the legitimacy of secession.

Not only is this less than we might expect from someone committed to the general interests of the Union, but it also allows the prejudices of national parties to be entered to the calculation without the embarrassment of a first person airing.

In a nutshell:  If any of the key players on the EU stage is opposed to Scottish membership then they should either show the courage of their convictions through a discourse of public justification linked to the interests of the Union as a whole  or, failing that,  they should at least be prepared to declare their intentions to act out of national self-interest. Barroso’ s intervention allows a significant oppositional note to be struck without either of these tests of public candour being met. The danger increases that our independence debate become hijacked to poorly specified and undefended external considerations. That surely is bad news for anyone interested in the referendum as a means to the long-term, widely accepted resolution of our national conversation.’

Does this make sense to you? Or are you convinced by the ill-informed hysteria of the anti-democracy Unionists? If we do vote Yes, there is going to be a period of intense revisionism in Scotland as those who played politics with the facts, Scotland’s future and their reputations feel the heat of public and professional scrutiny.

How do you come back from disastrous misleading positions like Barroso’s, or Darling’s or the Unionist politicians. I think the MEPs are particularly vulnerable here since their case is clearly anti-Scottish and simply not credible. Nobody in their right mind hitches their reputation to a right-wing maverick like Barroso as David Martin, Catherine Stihler and Struan Stevenson have.

I noticed a tweet today in which Professor Adam Tomkins, Britain’s most Unionist academic, recommended Brian Wilson’s latest self-justifying sneer at the SNP. Tomkins recommends Wilson on independence is like Campbell recommends Blair on Iraq war or Cameron recommends Ian Duncan Smith for impoverishing disabled, or Paul Sinclair recommends Johann Lamont for doing nothing.

And did you see the shameless Gordon Brown, the man utterly devoid of self-analysis, announcing that it is better for Scottish pensions to remain in the UK where “they will be safe”. Is this the former Chancellor who stole billions from our pensions?

Here’s a report from 2007. ‘Gordon Brown was warned explicitly that he would cause the death of the final salary pension scheme and cost companies and individuals billions of pounds when he took the knife to the pension system in his first Budget.

Confidential documents sent to the Chancellor before he axed the dividend tax credit in 1997 also warned that the worst-hit victims would be the poorest members of society.

The internal Treasury forecasts, released last night under the Freedom of Information Act, state that the changes would “cause a shortfall in existing assets of up to £75 billion” and that “employers would have to contribute about an extra £10 billion a year for the next 10 to 15 years to get pension scheme funding back on track”.

The abolition of the credit system has become notorious as the biggest and perhaps most damaging tax grab of Mr Brown’s chancellorship. It became known as the ultimate stealth tax since it only became clear in the following years how serious a dent it was to leave in pension funds.

Actuaries have claimed the move cost schemes £5 billion a year and plunged the pension system into crisis. They allege that Britain has gone from having one of the best pension systems in the world to one of the worst.

The papers released last night reveal that the Chancellor took his decision in the full knowledge that the costs to pension funds could be double £5 billion a year.

They also show that in 1997 “90 per cent of employees in occupational pension schemes have defined benefit” – schemes that pay out a portion of final salary. Now, less than half do, according to actuaries. The Treasury only published the papers last night after losing a lengthy battle to suppress them.’

Yes, you can trust Gordon with your pension. Interestingly Greg McClymont, another Brown acolyte, who was present today in Fife is Labour’s pension spokesman and doesn’t see the irony and poor Lindsay Roy, former heidie and lugubrious Labour MP, doesn’t seem to remember Gordon’s pension-killing either. Of course he was just a teacher then.

And wasn’t it Gordon who refused to restore the link between earnings and pensions, broken by the Tories?

Gordon Brown, Scotland’s biggest economic failure since Darien, still living his delusional life.

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0 thoughts on “You Have Been Warned *Update* See Below

  1. If Scotland has never been a EU member can Scottish taxpayers get their 40 year contributions back , with interest. No taxation without representation. Along with the £200Billion+ Oil revenues Westminster has wasted. The Scotsman forget it.

  2. I left for bed, switching off BBC Newsnight last night with Gary Robertson haranguing John Swinney and woke to hear Gary hand over to Hayley Miller to continue the assault on GMS, speak about deja vue. However the reason for the persistence comes from the First Minister’s comment about English businesses being worse off without a shared currency, and Swinney’s failure to answer what the penalty on Scottish businesses might be.

    Now I understand why it might be right to avoid addressing this since if there was no currency deal ScotGov could introduce mechanisms to protect said businesses, but reluctantly I am having to agree with you that simply referring to the Fiscal Commission’s alternatives may not strike a chord with some voters.

    • yes i agree with your comments on the media and after the last few weeks contributed to the yes campaign & bella caledonia great writers and comments on both ,i am getting the feeling and starting to question are we talking to ourselves ? are the people who get it the ones who need to be convinced and i have spoken to quite a few people during this time it comes across like “brick wall talking to” so ingrained is the Labour my father and mother voted for them so i trust them when to the rest of us its blind faith it doesn’t seem to matter to them that Labour has done this, or not done that, told lies and even after proving their Labour has changed it doesn’t seem to register any one any thoughts on a change of direction ? i agree with derek bateman about Alex Salmond missing the opportunity to lead rather than follow the news as anything the NO side say is being reported however stupid as fact and the total gospel and these people the ones i have and probably you have been trying to turn away from the dark side its a hard slog and almost came to fisty cuffs a few times anyway enough of my rant at least on “YES” sites you can have a wee rant try that on anything connected to no true to their word its no . no dissent .no questioning comments maybe its time for “YES” to do the same

      • Re Salmond leading.. there is an old saying. Never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake.

      • I worry about that to.
        It seems that the people on the street are getting good feeback and the polls seem to be heading towards Yes, so thats a plus point.
        Going by the last couple of weeks, the fear factor is going to step up big time and I think it will get really messy.

  3. Derek. This has to be just about your best blog yet. I weep to see what has happened to what was once a proud tradition in Scotland- our third estate. Why is it that the best journalism comes from furth of Scotland, as witness the grilling Jon Snow gave Darling on Monday’s C4 News?
    http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/
    Incidentally, I thought Pat Kane was excellent on the same programme.
    Any chance we could see you on any of these panels/programmes/etc?
    Or is that too much to ask!!

  4. If the EU respects democracy, it should give a definitive statement as to what its position will be with regards to Scotland’s membership, in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum. It should do this without waiting to be asked by the UK Government (which has no intention of doing so) in order that Scottish voters can make an informed choice in September. More and more, I am inclined to think that we should not be too concerned about EU membership. Certainly, I will vote Yes even if Scotland would definitely be expelled from the EU. Apart from anything else, fish stocks in Scottish waters would benefit greatly from an absence of Spanish fishing boats.

    • It’s very simple. Scots and Scotland REMAIN part of the EU in the event of a vote on independence. n part of the EU on the day of independence and the EU cannot by it’s own laws and treaties kick Scotland out punitively. It cannot suspend Scotland for voting for independence and no country can veto it. This is all factual.
      Scotland would need to apply for membership on the same day it provided ‘Notice to Withdraw’ It would then be in a period of withdrawal through negotiation with the commission, not the member states of the EU. For Greenland, a tiny sparsely populated part of the Danish weal’ (albeit a large chunk of territory) with minimal EU contact, it took 2 years. For Scotland, it would take in excess of 4. Bearing in mind Scotland doesn’t want to leave, Scots and Scotland remains in, until the agreement reviewed. This allows other members to access treaty arrangements like fishing and trade, whilst Scotland accesses unhindered the EU trading bloc, including the ‘wantaway’ rUK.
      This isn’t speculation. It’s all in the Lisbon Treaty.

  5. What all of the Westminster parties have made clear to us Scots is that any Devo powers will not include fiscal autonomy.That is and always will remain with Westminster as far as they are concerned.Those who are of a mind to have Scotland controlling our income now have only one place to go.Either that or take a chance that things under continuing London rule won’t get too bad.
    As for the EU,if what Barosso says is true,then most Scots will not be too keen on joining a club that doesn’t want them but we will have to give them the opportunity to refuse access to us so that our territory remains recognised by the international community.
    Great stuff Derek.

  6. The currency doesn’t matter. What matters is balances the books. Scotland does. Scotland would be £10Billion better off with savings and monies for Defence/admin jobs being spent in Scotland. Saving £1.5Billion on Trident/Defence costs and £1.5Billion on a tax on ‘loss leading’ alcohol etc. Scotland has been in surplus for years. Even the ‘George tax’, the monies would go to the banks on each side of the borders. Add to the economy in different ways. Much of profits of London banks is commission charged from euro exchange.

    Scottish taxpayers pay (UK) gov pensions, It comes out of general taxation. £17Billion on pensions/benefit. 1/4 of tax revenues raised in Scotland.

    The £, the EU, the Crown are just negotiable..

  7. MagNox’s paper is misnamed – better as Bullingdonsman. “Maybe even Johan Lamont’s reaction – only joking” great idea of it being sought.

  8. You can’t just argue for independence you have to fight for it. No one said it was going to be easy.

  9. @yerkitbreeks ‘…reluctantly I am having to agree with you that simply referring to the Fiscal Commission’s alternatives may not strike a chord with some voters…’
    This is very important. Beyond the committed/rabid commentators I detect a distinct nervousness amongst the Mr & Mrs J Public whom I know. These good folk don’t like the bullying attitude of Osborne, Barroso and Co but they are concerned about the pounds in their pocket and the possibility of this wee country being outside the EU. If you add this news to the Scottish Cringe and died-in-ma-faither Labour supporters it mkaes the task harder

  10. I too am astonished at the bile emanating from WM.
    I think they have finally realised they are worth little in world terms, so they bully their neighbour.

    This hatred – and I am actually starting to believe that is what it is – is spilling over into all types of media – like ‘comedy’
    I was commenting on this on WoS – it is now open season and everyone seems to feel free to slag us off constatly in racist terms.
    They of course have never seen it as racism but imagine if they started to talk about black or jewish folk in the same way?

    This is what has shocked me about the Guardian in particular – they support every minority group in the world except us.

    The only cure for this is independence but when you have Gordon Broon lying about people possibly losing their pensions, then I really do worry that a No vote might prevail.

  11. Congratulations Derek, your blog is one of my regular stops now, good quality stuff to think about, and always well written. The WHOLE of the MSM are complicit and if we have a YES vote, their world will be drastically changed. Many involved will go south, I cannot wait for that. I cannot wait either for the BBC to be shown up for what they are, the pits! We cannot allow them to slither off without their deficiencies and bias towards Scottish democracy being burst wide open. I want their deceit to lead to their International status to be questioned, every where that it can be, such is my anger over what they are doing.
    Nirvana would be a genuine Scottish media who actually would have Scotland at it’s heart, and speak from a Scottish perspective.

  12. Check out some of the letters in today’s Herald under the heading “Scotland has a long and proud history of internationalism”

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/scotland-has-a-long-and-proud-history-of-internationalism.23464589

    Some excellent stuff in general but surely the proclamation by “Academics for Yes” is very heartening for all those who believe in a better Scotland. Below is a short flavour of the content followed by a list of the participants.

    ACADEMICS for Yes has been created to enlighten the independence debate by tapping into the expertise of professional scholars who believe that Scotland’s future is best placed in Scotland’s hands. Our position is set out in the four points of our Declaration of Independence. We place ourselves at the service of the people of Scotland at this critical time to help them make an informed decision. Our commitment is to be available as much as we can be, to comment on and contribute to the debate, in general discussion and in specific areas of expertise…………..

    Prof Bryan D. MacGregor, Aberdeen University; Prof Murray Pittock, University of Glasgow; Prof Ailsa McKay, Caledonian University; Prof Donna Heddle, University of the Highlands and Islands; Prof Aline-Wendy Dunlop MBE, University of Strathclyde; Dr Gazala Akram, University of Strathclyde; Dr Valentina Bold, University of Glasgow; Prof Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews; Prof Robert Crawford, University of St Andrews; Prof Stephen Salter, University of Edinburgh; Dr Stephen Watson, University of Glasgow; Prof Mark Chaplain, University of Dundee; Prof Iain Black, Heriot Watt University; Prof Laura Piacentini, University of Strathclyde; Prof Philip Wadler, University of Edinburgh; Prof Alex Woolf, University of St Andrews; Prof John Watson, University of Aberdeen; Prof Howard Chandler, University of Aberdeen; Prof David Manderson, University of West of Scotland; Prof Jimmy Young, University of Stirling; Prof John C. Morrison, University of Aberdeen.

  13. “But the EU logic is that Scotland is simply a province and not a partner when the very name of the UK implies not.”

    For me, this has been the most interesting wrinkle of the whole debate. Historically, it’s true – we’re a union of Scotland and England, and the union should fall if one leaves. Politically, it no longer matters at UK or European level.

    Numbers count, and Scotland is the smaller part. A comparison might be Germany or Italy, both more recent unions of states than the UK, but if a sizeable fragment like Bavaria or Lombardia left we’d still continue to treat the remainder as Germany or Italy. The Europeans (and not just the EU institutions) seem to be thinking the same way.

    • I don’t think it valid to compare the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom.

      Surely, like any legal opinion, each case should be examined for the facts?

      • My impression is that the historical facts no longer have any political currency. This is probably also true for the unification of France, Spain, Italy or Germany (or anyone else), how it was achieved is of less interest to moderns than how the situation now presents itself, and they see “UK” as Westminster and London, which will continue.

      • As the Act of Union states Scotland and England, which at that time also included Wales are to be treated equally then rUK and Scotland must be treated the same. Either we are both in or both out.

  14. Super article Dereck,
    Should we be stupid enough to vote no, then the system that we are threatening will ensure that we never threaten them again. The plans are being formulated as we speak and the collective punishments which will be doled out to us will be swift and brutal (political & financial) the establishment is very angry and getting more so by the day. The proud pseudo “middle” class Scots will not be exempt they will be suppressed as part of the upstarts in the north threatening the establishments system. Scotland will be extinguished this time for good, at least they will try.

    We will have to submit to Westminster’s bullying and diktats or take what comes our way. What comes then? Because I do not believe the genie is going to be put back in the bottle, will it be to late or is Westminster to stupid to see what they are creating? They are to selfish, short sighted and corrupt, they cannot stop themselves.

  15. On a Yes vote the UK Parliament loses sovereignty and it passes back to the two original sovereign signatory parliaments of the Treaty of Union as only they have the legal and constitutional powers to negotiate any changes to the Treaty of Union, a legal and constitutional point conceded by the UK Parliament at Westminster in 1953.

    Most of what is now coming out of the UK Parliament is reliant on the fact few people in Scotland know of or have read Lord Cooper’s 1953 judgement in McCormack vs the Lord Advocate, any summary or analysis and are unaware of the number of important legal and constitutional points of law conceded by the UK Parliament with respect to Scots Law and constitutional practice and the Union Treaty’s powers and obligations detailed in the articles of the treaty.

    We are having a referendum the UK parliament would have done everything to avoid and block because in 1953 the Lord Advocate conceded, before Lord Cooper, on the UK Parliament’s behalf that the considered will of the people of Scotland is paramount. A ‘considered will’ which elected an SNP majority government in a d’Hondt Electoral System in 2011(which was supposed to make this impossible), elected to offer the Scots a referendum. A ‘considered will’ upheld in AXA vs the Scottish Parliament in 2012 by the UK Supreme Court as a prime reason why AXA’s case was refused because, “The UK Supreme Court has no power to set aside a bill, act or statute of the Scottish Parliament which reflects the considered will of the people of Scotland.”

    Lord Cooper in 1953 also stated, ” … there is no legal or constitutional equivalent in Scots law or constitutional practice of the solely English Parliamentary constitutional practice of the ‘Crown in Parliament’.” this was also conceded by the Lord Advocate on the UK Parliament’s behalf.

    Lord Cooper also dismissed the myth created in Bagshotte’s ‘UK Constitutional practice’ at Westminster first put about in the mid 1800’s that Scotland had been subsumed by England and only English law and constitutional practice was effective in the UK Parliament – this Lord Cooper stated was contrary to the Articles of the 1706 Treaty of Union and contrary to the Claim of Right (Scotland) 1689 as it denied the principle of the ‘considered will of the people of Scotland being paramount’ a right the Treaty of Union protected for ‘all time’ and in this case ‘all time’ meant exactly that. This legal and constitutional point was also conceded on the UK Parliament’s behalf by the Lord Advocate.

    Basically the Better Together campaign is living a constitutional lie, a sovereign parliament of Scotland will not be negotiating with a ‘UK Treasury’ or a ‘UK Parliament’ or even a rUK Parliament about a currency union – it will be negotiating with the sovereign parliament of England and Wales (with NI) a completely separate legal and constitutional entity.

    • Brilliant exposition of the legal position. Should be circulated to yes supporters and broadcast as widely as possible. I was unaware of the legal framework of the Treaty of Union though I do know it was never a democratic reflection of the will of the people but rather the will of a “parcel of rogues”, bought and paid for, and that most of its clauses have long since been broken.

    • However the “sovereign parliament of England and Wales (with NI)” doesn’t exist. Snap election?

  16. “They have made clear, as has Barroso, that it is only the nation state – a sovereign Scotland – that commands their respect. Remain a region and they’ll walk all over you.”

    This is it in a nutshell. You can talk about devolved this, separate that, and being in the UK “family” but it is all, when it comes to the crunch, absolutely worthless. Devo max, or any such promises, are as dead as Alistair Darling’s aspirations for Scotland.

    Scots are voting to determine whether they accept the status quo of being walked all over.

  17. Reading the Scotsman nowadays is rather like reading an editorial in Canine Lovers Weekly with the title, ‘Why I hate Dogs’.

    • It has been a source of great sadness to me that I have stopped reading the Scotsman. It used to be an excellent paper with Scotland on Sunday being a good companion to it. Its transformation into Tory supporting paper which treats independence supporters as dirt is very dad. It will require to return to its former glory before I and many others return to it. Its use of the Nazi symbol over tne St Andrews flag was insulting to all Scots and not just nationalists

  18. Great blog as ever, I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms after a few days without one!

    I’ve been thinking about the precedent it would set if it is assumed that rUK is the continuing state in the event of independence. This hypothetical scenario occurred to me:

    Let’s say there is a yes vote and as is suggested rUK is continuing state and keeps all jointly accrued assets (such as BoE, oversees territories, defence assets, etc). Let’s suggest that the south of England sees this opportunistically and decides to exaggerate it’s current London-centric policies and Westminster dramatically cuts spending in Wales & Northern Ireland – essentially forcing them by means of economic oppression to go down independence routes in order to regain economic control. Obviously rUK (now being England) would continue to be continuing state (as precedent had been set with Scotland). Now let’s suggest south of England moves this policy to the North East, then the North West, then the Midlands…

    Now let’s suggest other nations see this work and start implementing it so Portugal begins economically oppressing the Algarve, Italy oppresses Sicily, etc. We end up with an EU of small, populous, wealthy city states who have asset stripped the rest of their former countries.

    Obviously I’m not suggesting this would happen or that Scotland has been “economically oppressed” (although I’m sure some would say this!) but if this precedent was set then it is a possible logical result.

    As such surely, in order to create a fair legal framework in the event of independence, both “new” countries have to be treated equally, either both being continuing states or both being successor states?

  19. Westminster dropped its mask last week and gave Scotland a taste of what is to come if we vote NO.

    I am reminded of something that was said at the Accord Hospice charity dinner event in Paisley during 2013 by Andrew Neil of the Politics Show:-

    “Devolution, the Calman Commission, the Scotland Bill, the Edinburgh Agreement, all of this and more you have, is because Westminster parties are scared of the SNP. If you vote NO you massively change the balance of power and they will not only give you nothing, but will probably take powers away from the Scottish Parliament”.

    Honest words indeed from a committed unionist and leading expert on Westminster politics. Consider this scenario: would a Tory/UKiP coalition after the 2015 UK General Election be likely to have extra powers for Scotland on its policy agenda when they may have not have one single representative here? Or when they have the larger constitutional issue of EU membership to tackle?

    With regards to the nonsense spouted by Barroso I have always felt that Scotland remaining in the EU was a good thing if no other reason than to give us backing against the government of our neighbours in Westminster when they inevitably tried it on with Scotland as they have done throughout history. However I am now asking myself if Scotland can trust the EU to be an honest broker after its failure of courage to unilaterally step into this referendum and confirm that the Scottish government views are correct.

  20. This is a prelude to Devo Max. Give us a perceived problem and then solve it with a false promise of Devo Max.

    • A NO vote will lead to loss of powers and we can be assured that devo Max or any of its variations will never see the light of day

  21. Re David Maddox of the Scotsman. Although he’s a Scottish journalist right enough, he originated somewhere on the South Coast of England – Portsmouth or Bournemouth. It’s just within the bounds of possibility that this personal background might have influenced his attitude to Scotland and the Scots.

    • David Maddox made his name in the Scotsman, did he not, for opposing the SNP government particulalry over Magrahi – prior to that he had complained of his house being attacked by “extremists” (nationalists?).

      Funnily enough, he seems a good and knowledgeable friend to Catalan nationalism. I don’t know how he squares the two attitudes, but he seems to.

  22. Great read Derek. I would such say one contrary thing about your comment on the ‘Scotsman’ being un-Scottish. I think in many ways it is very Scottish to hate your own country. It is part of the Scottish cringe to always think that others and especially the establishment in London are better than us. Look at all those Highland chiefs who denied their own people the means to prosper, so they could join the aristocracy. I marvel that you get this even today in Eire. There is a guy called Kelly that keeps putting comments into newspapers against Scottish independence whilst taking a side-swipe at his own Government as parochial and basket case. Of course there is also the other Kelly, one Michael, he too of Irish origin who thinks that it is better to have a government we never voted for ruling over us than the SNP, who from his viewpoint would turn Scotland into an Orange state. So many contorted agendas!
    The only sanity in political debate at the present time comes from Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond but the biassed MSM ensure that it doesn’t see the light of day without a negative spin being put on it.

  23. I disagree that the BBC are being manipulated. They are a willing partner, and acting as the media arm of the British State.

  24. I am sure a temporary currency union makes sense to scotland but I read MacPherson’s report and I can’t see how it will be anything but a disaster for the rUK. Has anyone empirically refuted any of this?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/279460/Sir_Nicholas_Macpherson_-_Scotland_and_a_currency_union.pdf

  25. I agree completely with my Wings comrade Juteman! For me there is no question that the BBC are actively, and more importantly, willingly backing the No campaign. In fact, to get a better understanding of the independence referendum you will really be better calling Better Together the No campaign/BBC and MSM. There is no newspaper that publishes in Scotland which at this moment supports a Yes vote. The Sunday Herald is balanced, the rest are almost virulently opposed. There is no Scottish media, there is only media in Scotland. This is despite the fact that we have now reached the stage of having a referendum on Scottish self determination. This is doing a massive amount of damage to Scottish democracy. We are talking about a banana republic type MSM.

    The BBC in particular has considerable hostility to Salmond, and the SNP in particular, and the independence movement in general. The BBC have effectively gone native. The report from the Scottish academic shows this is clearly the case. The BBC do not provide any balance on their shows. I realise that it must be very difficult for you Derek to read comments like this. You and others in BBC Scotland worked, and do still work with integrity. However, I am afraid to say I just see a massive amount of bias against independence from both BBC Scotland, and the BBC down south. I believe it is institutionalised now. They are not even trying to hide it. There is just too many people like Kirsty Wark, Glenn Campbell, Renton, Boothman, Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr, Naughtie, Jackie Bird, Magnusson etc. Their antics and unprofessional conduct is disgraceful (and for some of those mentioned it stretches back a considerable amount of time. Sadly it looks like they think themselves untouchable and unaccountable to the electorate in Scotland). I feel sorry for you and balanced and good journalists, such as Isobel Fraser. Eddie Mair is another very good journalist.

  26. You write: You were proud to call yourself a Scotsman Reporter. It’s where I started 45 years ago and I owe them a lot but it only makes the pain harder to bear when I read it today.

    I feel much the same about the BBC, who trained me as a broadcast engineer 40 years ago. I owe them a great deal. Until recently I trusted them to do their best to be impartial. Their breach of that trust is so painful. So sad.

  27. So we are to become a pariah state if we dare spurn the magic cloak of Britishness. That saddens and disgusts me in equal measure. If you think of other pariah states through history – Uganda under Idi Amin, Cambodia under the Khymer Rouge, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Libya. All these states with their demons resume of crimes against humanity and the world. It will soon be joined by Scotland. Its heinous crime? Wanting to be independent of Westminster and charge of its own destiny.

    Anyone who honestly thinks nothing will change in the event of a no vote is a fool. Nothing is ever going to be the same again. This union is finished, come what may.

  28. ;Consider too that the Scottish government has the same power over the media – pro Union or not. If they wanted to they can play the same game by summoning a journalist and offering an exclusive…” the Scottish Government will definitely not agree to pay part of Britain’s debt” could have been an example. Nobody would have refused to publish and, offered to the right outlet, it would have been spun positively.’

    I would point out only this. They could pour this soothing balm into any journalist’s ear they like, but it would not appear. The ‘right outlet’?

    There. Is. No. Right. Outlet.

    There. Is. No. Sympathetic. Media. Outlet.

    Especially not your erstwhile chums at PQ.

  29. Fantastic blog. I have very similar thoughts about the currency & FUG – Fear Uncertainty and Greed http://www.basement-picasso.com/32-weeks-until-scottish-referendum/

  30. Yes it is worth reading Neil Walker in full as you you do not mention the fact that the excerpt you gave is not continuous but extracted It would have been more honest if you had quoted the extract with dots representing where you missed bits out. For example between the first two paras comes the following which does make some difference.

    The point in posing these rhetorical questions is not to suggest that the propositions they contain will simply collapse under the weight of their own absurdity. For there may well be a principled case to make against automatic and accelerated membership of an independent Scotland. We find the embryo of such a case, for example, in the analysis of Joseph Weiler, the current President of the European University Institute in Florence. He has argued, with special reference to the Catalan case, that just as national minorities in existing member states who presently enjoy extensive forms of individual and collective freedom have no automatic right to secede as a matter of general international law, so, too, the European Union in its accession policy should not be expected to indulge the independence claims of these unoppressed sub-state nations. To the contrary, the very ethos of integration, reconciliation and continental solidarity that has fed the European project from its post-War beginnings, according to Weiler, should lead the European Union to take a dim view of any separatist impulse that seems to betray these very founding virtues. From this perspective, therefore, far from having a stronger claim than those external candidates who have benefited from the post-Cold War Enlargement, those nations already comfortably nested in the EU’s Western European heartland of multi-level governance should be promised no safe European haven if they insist on the path to independence.

    I happen to disagree with both the specific thrust and the wider implications of the Weiler thesis. To begin with, and most narrowly, even if Weiler’s reasoning is applicable to the situation of Catalonia, where no constitutionally permissible route to referendum and independence is presently countenanced at the level of the wider Spanish state, the Scottish case is quite different.

  31. Derek,
    You do know that as an EU citizen you have a fundamental right to contact any EU institution and to RECEIVE A REPLY. See http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/
    If you aren’t getting replies – you need to quote that right at them, cc’d to everyone you can think of, and watch them hop about.

  32. Funny you should end with comment about Darien. I’ve been thinking how history repeats itself, with Spain (albeit Barroso) siding with England to thwart Scotland’s endeavours to grow its economy.

  33. Derek Your excellent analysis, as ever, sharply defines the issues. but history, (history is what is happening at the moment, believe it or not) which has strange twists and turns….is aabout to take one of those turns. The “Poond” which foolishly, a large section of the Scots want to keep, as they do not understand even basic economics, is about to be junked, in a YES vote result. Hurrah!!…if YES, then this is worth billions. A rock hard petro-currency, and total economic policy control by a sovereign government, instead of being a dependency of the London bankers….a fate We have just very narrowly escaped. not by design, but quirk and chance, thankss to the sheer ignorance and clumsiness of the UK political establishment in their handling of this issue. I think the pound is now a dead issue, and an independent Scots “Poond” is inevitable, now, eventually. if some cunning Soviet era apparatchik from the KGB had organized all this as a deep penetration of the UK government by Russian agents, they could not have produced a more amazing result. There are consequences of a Scottish pound, and independence. the greatest of them is the collapse, within about a year, of the UK pound, as the vast current account gap on balance of payments soars from 30 billion to 80 billion a year, (all to the favor of the Scots treasury) and their is a savage devaluation of the london pound by about 30-40% to close the gap. Empires end not with blood aand drama, they just collapse from decrepit old age…….

  34. Bring back Project Fear, they seem a much happier bunch than contributors to this blog!

  35. Just watched the Referendum TV Debate on BBC2 in Kelso tonight. I found it strange to watch Ruth Davidson and some Labour MSP defending Tory/LibDem/Labour (England) Chancellor’s “bullying” tactics against Scotland. This move seems to have painted Scottish Unionist politicians into an uncomfortable corner as they sound as if they are talking against their own country. Pool delusional souls. Quite a gamble they are taking.

  36. The latest scam. ‘Historic’ borrowing powers. UK Tresury takes all the Oil tax revenues and ‘allows’ Scotland to borrow them back with interest. No wonder they are called Tory Bankers. They are operating fraud/Ponzi schemes that should be called embezzlement and put them in jail. Ruin the Oil industry. Tax it at 60-80%. Increased 11% (£2Billion) in the 2010 Budget. Production is reported to have fallen 17%. So have the Oil tax revenues. Multinationals (foreign) in the City of London evade £Billions of tax. Osbourne/Alexander/Balls economic failures.

    The Polls ‘expert’, paid £millions of public money for failure. ‘Devo Max supporters will not vote Yes for more powers’?

  37. I’m really quite disturbed by the unionist media, whether radio, TV or the press, in misrepresenting the Independence cause. But also the stupid tactic of mentioning Alec Salmon in every sentence. It’s nearly a deviant, sexual fixation.
    But the folk who are saying, presenting and typing this biased nonsense are journalists. I just wonder how many of these are, in their hearts, tending towards YES and they follow their employers or editors ‘lines’ and present words and visuals that they really don’t support. I suppose this is the Journalists being prostituted,
    Putting aside the paid mouthpieces that are classified as expert commentators, I just wonder where the National Union of Journalists are. Their members are being prostituted and no squeak from them or any other Journalistic bodies to protect their folk.
    When are the Journalists themselves going to stand and be counted?

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