Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Negative Equity for the London Parties in Scotland

Its sometimes difficult to decide which of the UK party leaders actually has the most problems when it comes to Scotland. But the problems that they face are of their own making. By showing no interest in anything north of Berwick, it is apparent that they are unaware of how their parties are operating.

Ruth Davidson may well turn out to be an inspired choice to lead the Conservatives north of the border. So far however, her tenure of leadership has been one contradiction and uncertainty.

David Cameron's vow to preserve the union with “every fibre of that I have” was always going to fall on stony ground. The reason being that while most people in Scotland recognise that although he may have many things, they do not believe “fibre” is one of them. His “vote no” and “we might give you a wee bit more” approach has been tried before and found to be a lie. In Cameron's defence though, the damage was done long before he came along. What the Tories would have to do to win back Scottish voters is anybody’s guess. But they won’t do it with this guy at the helm.

In an ideal Tory world, well as ideal as it can be for them, they might have hoped that Labour and the Lib-Dems might have carried the day for the unionists north of the border but alas for them this is proving quite difficult.

Meanwhile, the other half of the “Smarmy Brothers”, Nick Clegg, has led his party to the edge of oblivion.
Willie Rennie of the Lib-Dems is not in an envious position. Having to reinvent his party, after the London leadership committed suicide by coalition, he is continually hampered by his party’s association with the Tories. They have become the party of coalition, north and south of the border, and struggle to reassert the traditional values of the old Liberal Party.

While Labour in Scotland has become the party most likely to try and lie its way through any debate, it appears to be coming apart at the seams in its one time stronghold of Glasgow. Here it managed to bully and threaten some of its own councillors into passing the city’s budget. In Falkirk their MP, Eric Joyce, has been suspended while he waits to go to court for assault. He will not be resigning as Labour fear a by-election defeat to the SNP. One party member even suggesting that they would prefer a “nutter” in the seat that a nationalist. New leader Johann Lamont not only seems unable to prevent the endless stream of misinformation coming from her colleagues but appears to encourage it. She recently led an attack on the Scottish Government over the awarding of contracts for the new Forth Crossing, criticising it for not giving all of the contracts to Scottish firms. EU procurement laws of course forbid discrimination in favour of Scottish companies. These regulations were implemented in 2006 when Labour was the major partner in a coalition executive with Lib-Dems.

Miliband’s speech at the party’s conference shows that he is as out of touch as the rest. While telling people that the union was the best option for a fair distribution of wealth, he spectacularly failed to remember that the gap between the rich and poor grew under Blair and Brown just as it did under the Tories and does under the Coalition.

All three leaders have seen their ratings in Scotland continually plummet into negativity. A negativity that mirrors their approach to Independence in particular and Scotland in general. All three Scottish leaders are hamstrung to varying degrees by their London leadership’s general disinterest in all things Scottish. But cutting them loose is not on the cards as this would highlight the differences that they hope to obscure.

So how do the UK leaders measure up in the approval ratings?

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows that Cameron scores minus 31% with Miliband’s approval rating standing at minus 45%. Clegg manages a minus 64% which is 17% less than his UK standing.

Paxman the Younger

The latest astonishing intervention in the Independence debate has come from Giles Paxman who said that even after a majority vote for Independence the Westminster Government could simply say “no” and that would be that.

Giles who?, I hear you say. 

Well, he is the British ambassador in Spain. He is also the younger brother of Brit-nut Jeremy.

He made his remarks to Spanish journalists during a breakfast briefing in Madrid.  

Paxman obviously felt he had to say something after the Spanish Government denied London based reports that it would block and Independent Scotland’s entry into the EU. The Spanish pointed out that they would treat both new entities the same.

Although what our man in Madrid says is true. In fact Westminster Parliament could vote Scotland into Independence tomorrow if they chose. One imagines that even they has a better grip on reality than the Paxman brothers.

Still he may only have been pointing this out to the Spanish media who may be unaware of just how much the so called “equal partnership” union is skewed in favour of the old imperialists. If so, then I suggest his ambassadorial skills are found wanting. 

When Taxes Actually are Criminal

I’m not so sure that the punishments handed out to those involved in the “black fish scam” in Shetland and Peterhead are severe enough.

However, they were caught after accountants discovered that the earnings the processing plants were paying tax on far exceeded their declared landings of fish.

What I wait to hear now is what the court plans to do about the tax collected by HMRC from this illegal activity. It must surely be considered proceeds of crime and therefore confiscated by the courts.

It would be unthinkable that the guardians of the moral high ground at the HMRC would hope that this went unnoticed and that they plan to keep it. 

Take note Danny Alexander. 

Lies, Damned Lies and BBC Scotland

Even after Chris Patten and the BBC Trust’s promise that the corporation would have to mend its ways when it comes to reporting the Independence campaign, the lies just keep coming from BBC and in particular, Auntie’s dutiful half-siblings in Scotland.  

When Alex Salmond recently expressed a view on the proposed redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald saw an opportunity to make an unfavourable association between the First Minister and Donald Trump on the basis that Alex Salmond had supported the American’s golf course development in Aberdeenshire. This was notwithstanding the fact that it was his own party’s Jack McConnell who ferried the tiresome tycoon around Scotland in a helicopter to find a spot where his ego could land.

Following up on Macdonald’s inference, the London lackeys at Reporting Scotland blatantly lied when asserting that Mr Salmond had been “rapped over the knuckles” by the Scottish Parliament over his dealings with Trump. Despite the hysterical ravings of the opposition parties in Holyrood to set up a committee to investigate their own malicious allegations of sleaze and corruption, the said committee found no evidence to support the claims.

Then there is BBC Scotland’s Seonag MacKinnon. Now, I’m not for a second suggesting that her reporting is in any way coloured by her politics although some may disagree. She is a former Education Editor at the Scotsman and is married to Peter MacMahon, one-time press secretary to former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish and political editor of the Scotsman and Mirror newspapers. She tells us that she gets private tweets and emails from teachers who may be under pressure to withdraw requests to delay the Governments Curriculum for Excellence.

One would hardly imagine that an unsubstantiated claim of private tweets and emails constitutes the evidence required for this to broadcast by a supposedly impartial publicly funded news outlet.

Next up was the astonishing claim made by Labour’s Health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie that patients at a Paisley hospital had to share blankets. The BBC reported it without any investigation on its own part and Baillie a platform to attack the government based on the claim. When Baillie was challenged about her allegations she suggested that health board were involve in a cover-up.

Suffice to say that when this story was shown to be yet another fabrication, the BBC did not give the same high profile coverage to Labour’s admission that their spokeswoman had not told the truth. (Baillie has a record for this sort of thing though. In January she claimed that NHS Scotland topped the European league for hospital infections. Well, it did, way back in 2006, when her Labour Party was in power in Edinburgh.)

Meanwhile, the BBC in London, who recently barred Alex Salmond from appearing on a Six Nations pre-match programme, saw nothing wrong with asking a panel of unionists on Dimbleby’s dumbed down version of “Newsnight” to give their reasons why Scotland should not be Independent. There is little that can be done about London’s approach to the Independence Referendum, which is usually comes over as misinformed, condescending and parochial. Ah, that it was ever so.

There can no longer be any doubt that the BBC in Scotland has a unionist agenda. But with its reputation for balance in tatters it is unclear who it thinks it is persuading with this continuous Westminster propaganda. While it may still offer some succour to the dyed in the wool “North Britishers” the unremitting mantra of “Britain Good” – “Scotland Bad” is, unlike in the good old days before the internet, not going unchallenged.  

Moore Gets it Wrong Again

One of the things many have been waiting on during the Independence debate has been the business friends of Scottish Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come up with a sound and reasoned argument as to why they would not invest in Scotland between now and the referendum. That they think that they have found a champion in Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) whilst showing an ever developing desperate ability to grasp at straws.  

No matter how this story is reported by the BBC or the increasingly embarrassing Scotsman, SSE at no point said that the timing of the referendum would lead to job losses or have an effect on any future jobs and investment. The company merely pointed out that future investment would have to take into consideration any regulatory and legislative changes to the industry that may take place after independence.

The company is not interested in whether Scotland leaves the union or not, only what it means to its profits.

There is of course no prospect of any changes in the way the industry operates across borders.

The SSE story is not an example of what Michael Moore has been promising. What it is though is a one of the big power companies throwing its weight about and trying to influence democratic government. They have done this successfully at Westminster and probably see no reason why they shouldn’t try it on with Edinburgh.

What should concern SSE though, is that a Government of an independent Scotland might not be as compliant as Westminster when it comes to allowing them to put thousands more people into fuel poverty every year in name of profit. Especially when renewables, such as hydro-electricity, in Scotland might be seen as way of subsidising prices in the south of England.

If the Coat Fits

So David Cameron gave a speech in Edinburgh standing behind a lectern bearing the royal coat of arms of the UK that is reserved for England and Wales rather than the Scottish royal coat of arms. Not a big deal when compared to the ever growing list of blunders and gaffes that has, so far, accompanied the unionist campaign against Scottish independence. But, whatever the excuse Cameron’s minions give for this, it does show yet again that those in London who profess to uphold the constitutional values of the Union know absolutely nothing about how it is supposed to function.

Pie in the Sky if You Let Independence Die

Vote “No” and I’ll consider giving you a bit more.

That was David Cameron’s message to the people of Scotland if they reject Independence at the referendum.

We’ve heard it all before. And the last time that we were sold such nonsense, and ultimately betrayed, it came from a previous leader of the Tory Party.

Thatcher promised that a “No“ vote in the rigged Devolution Referendum of 1979 would not kill off devolution but would “open the door for all parties to explore together a lasting alternative arrangement which can enjoy the support of the whole British people.”

When Thatcher became Prime Minister, Scotland was subjected to unparalleled contempt from the triumphalist Tories. Devolution was dead and Scotland paid a heavy price for believing in London promises. High unemployment, massive cuts in public spending and policies that favoured the rich over the rest were to follow. Sound familiar?

So, should the people of Scotland believe this Tory?

To be fair to Cameron he has only indicated that he would “consider” further devolution. So if he can bribe enough people all he will do is tell us that he “considered” it and then rejected it. Of course he won’t do anything of the kind.

There are more Giant Pandas north of the border than there is Tory MPs for a very good reason. This is a party that cannot be trusted when it comes to Scotland.

Scots Better Off Poor in the UK

David Cameron made an astonishing admission in speech in Edinburgh last week when he said that he believed that Scotland would be successful as an independent nation. So was this a sign that the irrational argument of comparing like with unlike?

Well – no.

Just a few days later, and with no doubt the usual extensive research that we have come to associate with the unionists, the matriarch of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson has told us that an Independent Scotland would be unable to finance the country’s welfare and pensions bill.

Speaking to “The North Britisher” (nee “The Scotsman”) she claimed that the welfare spending in Scotland has been greater than North Sea oil and gas revenue since records began in 2002. The message being the usual one that the Scots are better off as part of the UK.   

According to Davidson, a £100bn has been spent during the period in question while oil and gas revenue was £59.7bn. The Scottish Government’s figures show that the North Sea revenue collected by the UK Exchequer during the period was in fact £65.2bn. Not a big lie in the unionist scheme of things but still, simple arithmetic.

Figures aside, it does highlight though, the idea that the cost of high unemployment and relative poverty is seen by unionists, well the Tories at least, as a example of how Scotland is better off as part of the UK. Moreover it is another example of the unionist claim that an Independent Scotland couldn’t afford the cost of the London Government’s present-day mismanagement of the UK.

That irrational argument speaks for itself. 

Westminster Lawmakers Know a Bad Law When They see One

When it comes to the legality of the Independence referendum, the law-makers at Westminster might know what they are talking about. Considering the amount of times that the UK Government ends up having its ‘considered’ interpretation of the law ruled illegal by the High Court in England, they more than anyone, must have some idea of what constitutes a piece of dodgy legislation when they see it.

This is only my opinion and it should not be construed as the de facto ability of London based civil servants to know what they’re talking about.

London Democracy.

Much is being made by unionists about the “fairness” of the Independence Referendum and their need to be involved, to ensure its democratic credentials.

Westminster, of course, has a history when it comes to Scottish referendums. One that they no doubt hope we have forgotten. Proposed by the Tories and implemented by Labour, the infamous 40% rule that was attached to the first devolution referendum, would fail any and all democratic tests. Even so, it could not hold back the tide of devolution.

Nothing much has changed since then. And it could be argued that the present-day majority in the House of Commons are, like their predecessors, a bunch of Cnuts.

Fatal Blow to Independence #5,888,339

Queen of the hooter hammocks, Michelle Mone, says that she will move her generous bosom and unbounded ego to England if the people of Scotland exercise their democratic right to secede from the union. Last year she was leaving the UK if her taxes went up. Why she doesn’t want to move to China, where 89% of her workforce are to be found is because there is, undoubtedly, a greater demand for her wares amongst the diddies at Westminster

Paxman Compares Salmond to Mugabe and Scotland to Zimbabwe.

As an integral part of his CV, Paxman’s anti-Scottish views are well known. This ludicrous comparison will not be the last piece of nonsense we hear from him in his continuing attempts to belittle Scotland, its Parliament and its people. There’s really no need to get upset about it. Unless you are in Zimbabwe and are one of those who have been brutally oppressed by that regime.
Paxman’s talent, if it can be called that, lies in his ability to convince the BBC that he is worth his job and, no doubt, inflated salary. His confrontational style may amuse some but it lacks any insight, subtlety or journalistic merit. His opinionated juvenile crassness, which elicits little information, only lends itself to confirmation of his boorish bigotry and a delusion of his own self-importance.

Now, you don’t get shit like that on Newsnight.

Monday, 5 March 2012

We (and that includes you) are all Stupid

When Scotland as a nation is told that it could not survive and prosper after Independence, this should not be taken as a verdict on the aspirations of nationalists or the Independence movement. Rather and without any evidence to support the claim, it is aimed at the perceived inability of all Scots, no matter their political persuasion, to run their own affairs.

And that includes you.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

For the Want of a Rational Argument

Read an argument in the Scotsman newspaper (sic) the other day. Basically it was as follows - The only thing saving Scotland from being the North Korea of Europe is – you’ve guessed it - the Union.

Starting with the statement that no reasonable argument for independence has yet been put forward and that the move for separation is based on xenophobia and stirring up cultural differences, it was quite easy to see where it was heading. It continued - that despite the global recession and especially the Euro-zone crisis; most people in Scotland still eat well, still have cars less than 10 years old, still have free education and healthcare, still have flat screen TVs, had a turkey at Christmas and are still able to enjoy all the trappings of modern life and that many countries in Europe do not enjoy such a lifestyle.

All this was thanks to the Union. And no doubt the great lie that is the subsidising of Scotland through the Barnet Formula.

It goes without saying that this is a typical Unionist argument. Basically, the people of Scotland would not have these things if they governed their own affairs. There is also an argument however, that they might well have had more, had they been governing their own affairs for the last 50 years.

How reasonable is the statement that separation is driven by xenophobia and the stirring up of cultural differences. It is all-encompassing statement which fails the test of reason quite markedly.

Just how does a dislike of foreigners promote a move for independence? Any racial intolerance here seems to be on the part of the Unionist argument. For there is little doubt that for “xenophobia” we are meant to read “anti-English”. A puerile statement that can be easily dismissed. Unless of course there is evidence to show that those who support independence are, in fact, anti-English. On the other hand, it may mean that a newly independent Scotland will go into the grown-up world as a nation of xenophobes - chauvinistic and showing a dislike for all foreigners.

It may come as a surprise to some but there are English people living in Scotland who, after the reality check that comes with living north of the border, vote SNP and support Independence.

On the point of cultural differences. These exist between all the nations in the UK and are well documented. Surely they are integral to any and all national identities. Why this should now have taken on a sinister form is unclear. Moreover, to suggest that a preference for Scottish independence is based on the manufactured heritage that continues to blight the country at the expense of its history is an attack on the intelligence of its people.

If by “free education” we are meant to acknowledge that Scotland offers what would be expected of any modern society it is hard to see how that has anything to do with the London Government. Indeed, by refusing to burden its normally domiciled students in further education with tuition fees it does a great deal more that those who govern from London.

The same is true of health care. The reason for the UK languishing 12th in the European table for best heath care is surely not attributable to the country where eye examinations and care for the elderly are free and prescription charges have been abolished. This would not be the case, as has been patently demonstrated in the past, if such decisions were left to Westminster.

As for Flat-screen TVs and Turkeys. Has anyone recently tried to but a TV with a cathode-ray tube? As for a Turkey at Christmas. I think you will find that most people that celebrate Christmas will have enjoyed whatever their traditional Christmas meal is. That the people of Scotland wouldn't normally eat well for no other reason than the country becoming independent is a ludicrous suggestion.

And so to all the trappings of modern life that many countries in Europe do not enjoy. I would suggest that such countries are to be found in Eastern Europe, where the continent’s 10 poorest nations are. These are the countries which are still recovering from Communism and the outside influence and interference of the Soviet Union. I can’t think of one in Western Europe

So, basically, it is the same old argument. Everything that Scotland has is down to the Union. It has nothing to do with its people who, if left in charge of their own affairs would be paying for education and healthcare, drive old cars, sit in front of blank TV screens, have bread and dripping on Christmas day, pretty much starve for the rest of the year and hate every other country in the world.

Rational arguments indeed.

An A+ for Nonsense

The honour for the providing the first Independence economic scare story of 2012 goes to the Scotsman, a seemingly infinite source of pro-Unionist tales of future doom and gloom. In its latest, and somewhat confusing anti-Independence piece by Executive Editor Bill Jamieson (Jan 4th), separation will heap more untold misery on Scotland because as an independent sovereign state, it will lose the triple ‘A’ credit rating that it presently enjoys as part of the UK.

Putting as much spin on an analysis by Jim Leaviss, a fund manager for what the Scotsman calls “the giant M&G Group”, Mr Jamieson musters up yet another scare story to frighten Scotland’s bairns.

According to Mr Leaviss, an independent Scotland would struggle to sustain a triple ‘A’ credit rating. Give Mr Leaviss his due he also suggested that the remainder of the UK would do likewise. However, as this is not what the Edinburgh based rag wants to hear it simply spins the story as yet another dire consequence of the people of Scotland taking responsibility for their own affairs.

The ‘story’ as far as this lamentable excuse for a newspaper, is that the Scots would suffer. The reason? Well as usual it is because the country is “small”. According to Mr Leaviss, “Most small economies of an equivalent size [to Scotland] do not enjoy a triple ‘A’ status”.

Now I’m sure that is true on a global scale. But as we are talking about a country in Western Europe and a member of the EU, are we to assume (as one suspects we are) that if and it’s a big ‘if’, this was to be the case, Scotland would sink without trace.

According to Standard and Poor, smaller nations in Europe with triple ‘A’ status include, along with usual suspects of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein; Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In fact, Guernsey and the Isle of Man both have an AA+ credit rating. And it might also be worth noting that Slovenia, with AA-, has the same rating as China and Spain.

So, is there anything to fear here, as the Scotsman would have it?

Of course not.

Plenty countries get by without a triple ‘A’ rating. Losing that rating is only a problem for those countries which, like the UK in the past, have used it to borrow like there was no tomorrow and are now in serious trouble. Sound familiar

There was a time when triple ‘A’ was a size of battery. Now however, as a one of an ever increasing bag of economic buzz phrases, Mr Jamieson thinks it is time to add it to the Unionist armoury. But, while you can make of it what you want, as with the other sticks and stones at London’s disposal its efficacy as a weapon against independence can be undermined by readily available data. 

As for “economic analysts”, one will recall that they had ample opportunity to predict the present crisis and were found wanting. Whether we should give much credence to what they say now is a matter for further conjecture.

However, it does seem that the Unionist’s fixation on “size” has yet again been shown not to matter.