Deja Vu

Just about the first thing I saw on Twitter this morning was the Scotsman front page with a lurid headline about Sturgeon’s £5 billion Devo Max Bombshell (add your own exclamations) and instantly felt deja vu creep over me.

masthead

Are we still in the campaign, I wondered. Are they still hammering home their relentlessly negative tabloid scary drivel or is the referendum over?

It followed this week’s piece in the same paper from Peter Jones warning that without the Union, Scotland would be facing ruin from falling oil prices as we would lack the equalising impact of the block grant which retains spending levels. He was quoting Brian Wilson who wrote in the same paper the previous day apparently on the same subject.

Odd, isn’t it? My understanding was that Unionists were bleating that Yes was refusing to give up and yet here we are in ‘the national paper’ re-running old arguments after the event and based on the views of one or two campaigners disguised under the pseudonym of Think Tank.

Indeed, on reading the article, it turns out to be none other than former Labour economic adviser John McLaren* who has produced a paper timed to coincide with the Smith Commission talks and dutifully published on the front page of a national newspaper minus scrutiny or analysis in an attempt to derail the SNP’s proposals for extra powers.

john mclaren

If you thought this fight was over, you’re wrong. The Unionists can’t stop themselves from stamping all over Scottish aspirations and killing stone dead anything that smacks of real autonomy. Every single move has a downside that will damage Scotland and they will never tire of telling us. Only craven adherence to London policy – Labour or Tory – will satisfy these Britnats whose contempt for their own country is collective self-loathing on an epic scale.

Whenever there is a Scottish government statement due or a budget, expect Dr McLaren to have prepared a paper contradicting everything they have to say. The so-called think tank, now named Fiscal Affairs Scotland, is spun out of the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) which previously provided cover for his Unionist expositions. You may recall three years ago, this story (reported here in Newsnet)

The row over claims that businesses in Scotland face a massive increase to their business rates of £849 million over three years looked set to escalate today after a CPPR source denied the organisation had produced such a figure.

Newsnet Scotland has been told that the press release and report sent out to media organisations on 22nd September made no such claim of an £849 figure.

The £849 million figure has been used by several Scottish newspapers and broadcasters in order to attack the Scottish government’s three year spending plans.   The headlines and reports led to Finance Secretary John Swinney writing to a Scottish national newspaper and issuing statements denying the claims.

In a letter to the Herald newspaper Mr Swinney called the figure of £849m “misleading” and went on to explain that the real figure is £493m. Around half of this is due to the annual poundage rate RPI increases that are introduced north and south of the border and which businesses know they have to plan for.

So the actual increase as a consequence of inflation totals £250m over the three-year cycle not the treble plus figure implied in the CPPR report.

That little affair was the direct result of a press briefing given by John McLaren at Glasgow University and which I attended. Contrary to what the CPPR said, he did mention the £849m figure and it was leapt on by Angus Macleod of the Times – with his usual relish – who demanded to know, in an incredulous voice, if the figure was correct. ‘Yes’, confirmed McLaren.

cppr

It was broadcast by Douglas Fraser and immediately brought objections and clarifications from the government. The result was the item was pulled from BBC coverage within the hour. McLaren had overshot himself in his haste to a) damage the SNP and b) to gain publicity.

At that time he and his former Labour colleague Jo Armstrong were paid by the taxpayer through the Funding Council and accommodated by the university but it isn’t clear where the funding is coming from for their new vehicle which has a raft of luminaries to provide respectability. Oddly, for a ‘prestigious’ organisation, their website appears not to be functioning.

I don’t believe that Scottish academics – any of them – make up answers or deliberately twist information but I do think that some with strong political affiliations highlight information that serves their political ends. It would be naïve to think otherwise. And if the referendum taught us anything, it is that we have an inter-connected establishment which values the Union above all else. The idea of impartiality and neutrality were torn apart as professors and doctors declared for one side or the other and in the midst of a national debate, that seems an appropriate response from the university sector which is both an iconic contributor to our country’s prestige and an underused resource.

But once that campaign is over, do we expect them still to be politicking at public expense? For example Adam Tomkins first advised the Tories on devolution – a reasonable use of an academic to a project of public interest –but should he now also be representing them in the Smith Commission? Has he not crossed a line from offering expert advice to assuming the mantle of identity of a political party and arguing their corner against other politicians? Should the taxpayer be paying his salary while he turns himself into a political party representative? (Perhaps he has surrendered his salary pro-tem. What do you think?)

At least Tomkins makes no effort to hide his affiliations so you can judge him and his work accordingly. (I know I do). But shouldn’t we expect the same declaration from other academics like John McLaren who, it seems to me, is a committed Unionist and anti-SNP voice but who states he is unaligned? If the think tank is also unaligned, as it claims, perhaps we’ll see some evidence of this soon…

Meantime, I recommend this from Bella for further reading. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2012/02/23/the-professor-the-think-tank-the-black-black-oil/

The McLaren defence will doubtless be that he produces a balanced report and it’s the media that decides the storyline and the heading. But are we to assume that so media-savvy an individual with hours of television experience and direct media contact had no idea what line a journalist might take? Wasn’t he already preparing to appear on Radio Scotland in the morning? Did it not occur to him that it coincided with the Smith Commission meeting and would therefore sabotage that event and lead journalists to demand answers from the SNP? Put it another way – isn’t this exactly what Labour Party headquarters would want?

And is this what Robert Black and others in Fiscal Affairs Scotland want – to be front men for campaigners bent on disrupting even the low-level devolution process that all of Scotland wants to succeed now that independence is shelved? I suggest that John McLaren knows exactly what he is doing. To me this looks like cynically manipulating the media to present a case that damages the Sturgeon leadership, derails the more powers process and makes a name for John McLaren and his latest think tank. And, of course, it’s another triumph for the Scotsman, surely the most inappropriately-named newspaper in history.

*John McLaren was a civil servant at both H.M. Treasury (1985-1988) and at the Scottish Office (1989-1998). During this period he had no political affiliations.

John worked as a researcher for the Labour Party for a year leading up to the first election (1999) of the new Scottish Parliament, being subsequently appointed as a Special Adviser by Donald Dewar, and then by Henry McLeish, for the period up to 2001. John was a member of the Labour Party from 2000 to 2005. In 2006 John was hired by the Labour Party on a consultancy basis to undertake work leading up to the 2007 election. Since 2002 John has worked as an independent economic consultant and member of CPPR. Since 2005 he has had no political affiliations.

 

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48 thoughts on “Deja Vu

  1. Oh, that explains it then.

    Interesting CV. 😀

    I am pretty much sick to death of ‘respected’ think tanks and our puckered up press. The bottom line of course is continuance of the narrative that Scotland is incapable of managing its own revenue streams. Our ‘think tank experts’ say so, the media says so and Westminster MPs say so, therefore it must be true.

    Or we could go with a different narrative, which is that our WM representation act out of self interest and could care less about their electorates, our media acts out of self interest and is hopelessly compromised with political and corporate patronage and think tanks suffer from a mixture of both.

    On the back of Westminster’s actions since the day of the referendum are they still asking us to believe the garbage they spew? Seriously?

    Frankly, I’m still waiting for the better together bit to start. I’m sure it’ll be any day now…

    … or maybe not.

    • I think the Better Together bit is still that we are lucky that the UK still wants us and we ought to be darn grateful. No hope of British glory ever shining I’m afraid.

      • That might be it right enough. 🙂

        Spookily the papers haven’t been a flood of good news stories over the past four weeks at all and yet we were assured that we’d be safer, stronger, more secure, more economically viable… etc. None of which, if our news sources ‘at UK level’ are to be believed, have come to pass.

        Labour, Tory and Libdem plans for devolution of powers are all at odds (despite a unified pledge), and timetables for implementation have had to be reworked already. The one debate in the house that has taken place was taken over by a debate on EVEL. Who knew?

        We have heard Dave’s solemn pledge to his party faithful that the block grant is to be slashed and that responsibility for tax gathering is right up there in his to do list, not total control of tax powers mind you, just the collecting of them basically. We’ve also got that worrisome pledge on an in/out EU referendum to look forward to. I’m wondering how they’ll square an out of EU vote with a Scottish preference for inclusion come the day? Wonder what’ll happen to all those farming subsidies for instance to Scottish farmers and how Dave will explain just why they won’t be getting them anymore, but that’s not our worry apparently. Likewise Cameron’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights act, which is a big indicator as to how that EU vote will go IMO.

        I think TTIP has already been well covered this week. What else is there? George revisiting the rich-poor gap in his taxation plans, continued military intervention in the middle east, the continuing threats of further welfare reform, austerity measures yet to be enacted and the ongoing threat to scrap the Barnett Formula entirely in favour of ‘pooling and sharing’ across the UK.

        And that’s just since September 19th. I guess we did put them on hold for the duration of the campaign right enough. It appears they’ve lost no time playing catch up though.

        Oh and apparently at todays PMQs Mr Cameron has asked that the SG sticks to its end of the bargain and stops talking about further referendums.

        Yeah, that’s right. Dave has asked us to stick to our end of a bargain he’s already driven a bus through.

        • Cameron doesn’t want us out of the EU Macart. He’s going to fix the referendum so that staying in is the result. That’s why Carswell left. He got wind of how Dave was planning to fix it. Cameron wants EU and TTIP.

          • Oh, I reckon Dave’s in favour of the EU, but he does also have to appease that somewhat sizeable section of MPs and their electorates who aren’t and convince them that he eats raw meat for breakfast. Its a dangerous tightrope he’s walking attempting to stir with one hand and schmooze with the other. Mind you, when you can lie as glibly and readily as captain charm he has an even chance. 😉

        • Meanwhile UK debt mounts at £1500 every second, and my personal share is £40,000.
          It would be nice if every pro indy blog had this at the top of every post, just to remind us how important it is that we are part of the ‘sharing of resources’ brigade
          How about it Derek?
          Tick tock,tick tock.
          http://www.nationaldebtclock.co.uk/

          • Good idea David.

            Lots of visitors to the larger sites and popular blogs and that includes new visitors. It would be a neat way of pushing the point home.

  2. Sadly the term Think Tank is hard wired in my mind with what it rhymes with. At best fills the void in the lazy jurno void that we have in the media. At worse as we see here its just high-rent lobbying to a receptive press.

  3. The U.K OF G.B. AND NORTHERN IRELAND. Sadly the initials now stand for the United Keichdom of Greedy Bandits and Northern Ireland (Barnett Formula +24%).
    Another good acronym is G.L.U.B. which stands for Greedy Lying Unionist Bandits!

    • I like the new UK Decurity Service based on the US Homeland Security.
      They were going to call it British Information Gathering And Security Service until Gordon Brown took offence

  4. BBC Scotland dutifully trotted McLaren out on GMS this morning as an “independent” expert. I recognised the name and suspected the BBC were up to their old tricks again. And here is the artice proving it.

    • The BBC would struggle to find the words “independent”, “impartial” or “objective” in a dictionary, never mind know what they mean,

  5. I totally agree that I’m sick to death of all this think tank nonsense. It’s time we started fighting dirty!

  6. Thanks for this Derek.

    I think it is about high time that this business of “think tanks” was critically appraised.

    They are not politically neutral bodies and the press and the public need to be aware of that fact.

    I have no issue with Tomkins representing Scottish Tories provided the pretence to neutrality is ditched. As to his salary, I think that’s a matter for him and his employers. When academics are seconded to other roles it frequently happens that aspects of their university work is given to others, and money found for such part-time posts.

    The Scotsman article on this was appallingly light weight. There were no facts to speak of. It was really shabby. The quality of journalism at the North Briton has plummeted, along with their sales. They are now at rented premises at Orchard Brae in a shared office building, having moved out of their plush new-built offices just beside the parliament over the summer.

  7. Correction, Derek, re ‘Dr McLaren’. He has a BA. His studies did not extend to a doctorate.

  8. You’ve just demonstrated what genuine journalism is Derek. Many thanks for this insight. I no longer listen to Radio Scotland as I’ m sick of the constant stream of propaganda. Exception is Ricky Ross, Another Country, of course.
    But I am grateful that others suffer on my behalf. Well worth paying for professional “listeners” and “readers” so that we don’t have to!

  9. I’m appalled and sickened to learn that the Labour Party is so corrupt. The real socialists MUST begin anew after Scotland becomes independent. But what do they do with all those crooks nestling within their ranks at the moment? What a problem for their loyal supporters…….and I am sincere, for I have friends and relatives who, for the moment at least, are loyal to their party.

    Derek, you are either being kind or careful when you say that you don’t believe Scottish academics deliberately twist information. Some, I’m afraid, most certainly do!

  10. Thomas William Dunlop

    “The Empire shites back”

  11. Another excellent article Derek. I highlighted McLaren’s CV on the Wings website sometime in 2013 when his ‘findings’ being published in the Press was reading more and more like a Labour Party press release. But of course that is the point, they are Labour place men and we see in Scottish society how extensive Labour have placed their apparatchiks across the Scottish spectrum. However you do say that the media are manipulated by them, I disagree, the media have their political place-men too and they know exactly what they are going to get from their comrades in arms. Step 1/2/3: 1. Create the ‘news’; 2 Report the ‘news’; 3. Put SNP on the back foot.

    We are in a war, the Referendum was the first battle, GE2015 is the next. The fight by McLaren, Armstrong, Tomkins, BBC, Daily Record, Scotsman et al is to maintain the union at all costs. They have a common enemy (the SNP) and they have a common cause regardless of who controls Westminster. But this corrosive attitude towards Scotland and her aspirations is also counter-productive as Britain grinds further and further into the abyss and the only thing ‘British’ by 2020 will the name.

  12. Unfortunately they have the ear of the old, the uninterested and the uncaring. A lot of people of pensionable age don’t have a clue about what’s going on outside the MSM and actually think they’re getting the truth, I hear it everyday, makes me sad

  13. Another one to watch is Professor Alan Trench of IPPR. Institute for Public Policy Research. The devolution expert. Trench’s agenda is to argue for devolution being symmetric – Scotland has got to go at the same pace as NI and Wales. He tries to argue the futility of devolving income tax because it’s too complicated. His recommendations to the economics committee at Holyrood pretty much mirror Labour’s minimalist devo nano. Malcolm Chisolm seems to be on that committee and takes a strong interest in Trench’s views.

  14. Over at Craig Murray they are saying that the fall in the oil price (on which Maclaren’s woeful prognostications are based) is due to cheap shale oil in the US and also Saudi Arabia dumping vast amounts of oil on the market to deflate the price and get back at Russia.

    I suppose on the positive side if this holds up fuel will become cheaper (hopefully food will follow) and there is less incentive for on-shore fracking.

    Oil price volatility is an aspect of the market and it has an upside as well as a downside, but that is never mentioned, of course.

    • I saw someone on France24 TV saying this same thing last week i.e. that the Saudi’s are deliberately pumping oil at low prices in order to make US shale oil uneconomic to extract.

      France24 TV even mentioned a break-even price (I can’t remember exactly what it was – but I did note that the present lowered price is not that far off it) after which the Saudi’s expected shale US oil extraction to dwindle and eventually cease – all of which would be to Saudi economic advantage of course.

      I suppose the US government could say that its strategically vital to the US that shale oil extraction continues even when it becomes uneconomic to do so but I suspect the monetarists and the markets will take precedence and stop production and switch back to Saudi oil unless Obama goes out on a limb and is prepared to subsidise US shale oil extraction for strategic reasons.

  15. Steve Asaneilean

    Always worth re-reading this piece about the Labour infiltration of the Scottish media (and it doesn’t even mention the Wark-Clements-McConnell link):

    http://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/oh-what-a-tangled-web-we-weave-when-first-we-practice-to-deceive-bbc-scotland-and-the-labour-party/

  16. What we are seeing is the no camp devouring its own support. That 55% will comprise a lot of people who were swayed by the arguments of more powers, of pensions being protected, the NHS not being privatised, opportunities for Scotland’s children, etc etc. They are doing a reckless hatchet job on Scotland’s place within the union, making it nigh on impossible for it to remain as a respected and fully contributing member. Their pride in Scotland the Weak is blinding them to how it is being perceived and reported in England. Hence the panic with the Tories announced EVEL. There is a huge appetite for this in England right now. I am absolutely sure labour will do its worst by Scotland in the desire to protect itself in Westminster. The tories will take advantage of this make no mistake. Labour is on the wane in Scotland. Politics have irrevocably changed and they are more & more portraying themselves as Westminsters men in Scotland. The reason wee ruthie is smiling all the time is that she knows the tories will have some company in the “wrong side of history” cul-de-sac that they have been inhabiting since 1997.

    • Actually I think what we are really seeing is part of a Labour fight to stop Devo-max in its tracks and also take back the ground they lost to the SNP during and after the referendum.

      Labour calculate that their placement in the BBC and newspaper media will reproduce this piece of unashamed Labour originating propaganda without question and that its claims will become received wisdom and so hope Scots ardour for Devo-Max will be substantially diminished by the time Lord Smith issue his report.

      Labour also calculate that so-called unbiased academics questioning the economic credibility of the SNP’s main policies and the case for a fully devolved Scotland will bring former Labour voters back to the fold.

  17. there is no democracy………….only propaganda……..nice to hear comments but better if I knew how to fight this without guns

    • Yes I’m with you, what the hell can we do about it?

      We, the online folk have got access to loads of info but what about the ones who are apolitical or get their info from the MSM/BBC?

      There is no doubt that Nicola will get the same negative scrutiny from the usual suspects that AS got.
      It might work in Nicola’s favour cos she is more likeable or will be supported by the ‘sisterhood’ – I don’t know.

      We will also have more feet on the ground for the Yes parties, it is a shocker to realise just how imbedded Lab are in the Scottish media.

      Personally I think if it’s devo nano, we need to call for #indyref2 or use EVEL to make a legal case for the Treaty of Union having been broken.

      • We are essentially fighting a guerrilla campaign (by analogy, not with weapons). This means that we have to choose the ground to fight on and use our strengths. Our strengths are the grass roots and the clear logic of our case, backed up by specifics (if you need to ask, just check out the numerous Wings and Business for Scotland articles on Scotland’s finances).

        We are never going to get a fair hearing from the MSM, so don’t waste time complaining. Use our face to face numbers to systematically spread the message to everyone you talk to. This is the only way to combat the lies.

        • I still say we have to get out there and educate and agitate. Not hang around forums all day indulging in group therapy.

          Sorry, didn’t mean for that to sound hard… but you know what I mean – the old-fashioned way, of politicising the Nawbags, converting them by arguments and information, one by one. Hard work. But it’s what has to be done.

          • MBC that is essentially what I am saying – I am doing it, and working with other YES activists to do this. Get out of the bubble and engage.

            If each activist talks to at least one other person every day, then we will be unstoppable.

  18. Derek,
    The Scots just threw themselves over a cliff. It looks to me as if the whole drive to Devo Max is an attempt to ultimately discredit the Scottish Government. Squeeze the money to the extent that it makes them look bad as they struggle to turn it into elastic. There was no way that the Referendum would be a return to normal. Westminster will push and push to take revenge now. As for Think Tanks, think the OBR. They’ve hardly got it right once, and I am fed up at the moment with the gloating that’s going on in some sections of the media: all this mince about the ‘settled will of the people.’ If there was such a thing we wouldn’t need elections.

  19. It seems that many folk are mightily pi**ed off with the Beeb. I wonder what the Scottish Government is going to do about it – and that’s a very seriously intentioned question.

    We cannot let this situation continue that’s for bloody sure. So, what’s to happen Nicola?

    • For me, they should sue, on behalf of the people of Scotland for misinformation received in the lead-up to the referendum. We can all bear witness in support.

      • I agree, they need to get expert advice and sue the likes of Eleanor Bradford for lying her backside off re underfunding in the NHS.
        I’ve just recently joined the SNP and I will be attending Nicola’s event at the hydro and also the women’s conference in Ayr and I will attend as many meets as possible.
        I will bring up the need to attack the BBC through the law and find out if it is possible

  20. 1. I don’t see the difference between “deliberately twisting information” and “highlighting information that serves their political ends.” This tendency to go out of your way to avoid attributing these people with malevolent intent hurts our cause and insults our intelligence. How do we know they are even real academics? They might be working directly for HM Government.

    2. “Peter Jones warning that without the Union, Scotland would be facing ruin from falling oil prices”. Has Peter Jones not seen the following brilliant piece from the BBC? “Technology boost for Scotland’s oil reserves in North Sea”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-29342142
    It was published six days AFTER the referendum and, of course, that timing wasn’t “deliberate” either.

    3. “And if the referendum taught us anything, it is that we have an inter-connected establishment which values the Union above all else.”
    Actually, Derek, most of us weren’t taught this during the referendum. It has always been obvious to anyone with half a brain.

    4.No matter how their paid media whores try to dress it up, anything short of “near Federalism” exposes the Unionists yet again for what they are – shamefaced liars.

    • Katrine Paterson

      It’s not as if it was even ‘news.’ It could be found online long before the referendum. Oh goody, BP have just anounced another new well on the mid North sea today.They will be throwing vast billions at it.

      BP’s North Sea oil find could yield 50m barrels
      New field, discovered in partnership with GDF Suez, reopens hopes for future of North Sea oil
      They called the well Vorlich.

  21. It’s all about putting us back in our box. So I did feel a little glow of satisfaction to finish my submission to the Smith Commission with –
    “In the past 70 years, 143 and more countries around the world have managed transitions in their status — the countries that have become independent and the countries the new nations left — including the UK which set up federal systems of government in many of its former colonies. They have all risen to the challenges, and the world has evolved around them, accepting them and easing their path. It beggars belief that the UK, whose strength and institutions are continually lauded, should not be able to manage the devolution of significant powers within its own borders. If renewing democracy through instigating devo max or a federal system is too difficult an undertaking for the so-called mother of parliaments, then the future for the UK is indeed bleak.”

    • You’d think a ‘union’ as ‘strong’ as the British one would be able to cope with four sub-UK parliaments, each with the powers that a state or provincial legislature in the USA, Canada, Australia or Germany has. But the fact that the British government gives the Scottish parliament such limited power, the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies with less power still, and won’t even consider devolving anything to the English nation, shows how immature and insecure the British state really is, just like any other bully.

  22. smiling vulture

    That Devo headline,is final straw,stopped reading it

  23. i have often thought why is this guy on telly so often but he will wither on the vine just like the Labour party who may never recover from aiding and abetting the Tories during the referendum

  24. Spot on analysis of this obvious ploy by Labour to try and derail “Devo-Max”.

    The BBC dutifully picked it up without question on their website and no doubt will be headlining it all evening on what they laughingly call their News and Current Affairs programmes.

    Labour have calculated that the uncritical media exposure will mean it will have become received wisdom by the time Lord Smith issues his recommendations.

    They are trying to convince Scots that our nation of 5 million or so that is amply self-sufficient in oil, gas and food, and has exports like whisky that are in demand all over the world, is unable to live within its means when all you have to do is look to Westminster to see a classic example of a government that is financially mismanaged and lives way beyond its own means.

    It high time our SNP, Greens, and ISP pro-independence politicians took off their kid gloves when responding to this kind of Labour ploy in exactly the same way you have done here – and that means naming names of those behind this kind of thing and what their history and affiliations are as you have done here..

    I hope I’m not disappointed.

  25. You must be missing the back-up of the BBC research department. When you consider how they monstered Dr Robertson for lack of academic rigour, how can Mr Maclaren, BA, be so lauded?

  26. The more I read, the more I am persuaded, that UK politics displays all the evils which are rooted in the love money.

  27. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a conspiracy, but it’s not, they’re just better organised. They probably exchange emails etc about tactics and strategy and co-ordinate their media plants.

    We need to do the same. I’ve said it before, although I’m hitting a brick wall, but we need our own central unit (aka “Think Tank”) and ordinary supporters to flood media with “protest” emails etc setting the record straight and demanding corrections etc. Weight of numbers might help to change the BBC output.

  28. ‘of’ is missing – my apologies. I thought, skip the proof reading; what can go wrong in two lines.

  29. Only craven adherence to London policy – Labour or Tory – will satisfy these Britnats, whose contempt for their own country is collective self-loathing on an epic scale.

    Bullseye. That’s it in a nutshell. Another great article, Derek.

  30. So, before the referendum, there was supposed to be a big black hole in Scotland’s finances (except there wasn’t) and the oil was going to run out very soon (except it wasn’t).

    After the referendum, newspapers reported that there is at least 100 years of oil left (actually, it could be 300 years or more, but it’s a long story that I won’t go into at this time).

    Now, with submissions to the Smith Commission demanding devo max, the oil must be running out again because the £5 billion black hole has made a reappearance.

    Interestingly, Scotland’s share of future UK austerity is likely to be somewhere between £4 billion and £7 billion so, even if you believe the unionists, it would appear that the black hole exists with or without devo max.

    With Devo Max, Scotland won’t have to pay a share of HS2, Crossrail 2 or countless other projects that bring no benefit to Scotland yet cost us money. It will also bring significant jobs growth to Scotland as a variety of civil service functions relocate here.

    Devo max would bring significant benefits to Scotland but the unionist mainstream media, unsurprisingly, only look at part of the equation. They have a political agenda and that is the preservation of the union and, as with all of the printed media, they have no legal obligation to present the news in a fair and unbiased manner. That’s something to keep in mind every time you read or hear something from the mainstream media or their supposedly independent think tanks.

    Before reading any report from any think tank, first check who funded their work. By way of example, earlier this year and last, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reports into an independent Scotland’s finances were indirectly funded by Vince Cable’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills via another economics research organisation. The pro-independence movement needs to get better at exposing unionist propaganda for what it is.

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