Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Scotland's future in Scotland's hands

Well that's fairly straightforward isn't it? 

"Decisions on Scotland’s future are taken by those who care most about Scotland – the people who live and work here.”

Briefly, and as a summary, at the moment we have four tiers of elected government -
1) the local council, delivering local services such as street cleaning and lighting (yes, yes & much more)
2) Holyrood, managing matters devolved to Scotland such as education, health, policing, and transport etc
3) Westminster (booo! hiss!) managing UK wide issues - the economy, foreign affairs, defence etc
4) Brussels managing EU wide stuff - justice, trade, agriculture, fisheries and environmental regulation & etc

Now, obviously, decisions in tiers 3 & 4 are currently taken in concert with others; indeed - decisions on Scotland's future can be taken by those who don't live here (e.g. decisions on fracking made at Westminster, decisions on Scottish fisheries made at Brussels). 
So, the Yes case as stated must be to repatriate all the powers currently exercised by Westminster and Brussels.
But no! It seems it's only Westminster that grieves us. That's strange isn't it? Are we happy to let Brussels (with majority voting widened following the Lisbon treaty) make decisions on Scotland's future? 
Why can that be? It's illogical, Captain. Perhaps at heart it is still just an anti-English crusade after all?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Asymmetrical Nature of the Referendum

I've sounded off about this before, but a tweet from the great Edi Reader (yes, I am joking) about the fact that Salmond was up against Alistair Darling rather than whoever she felt she Eck should be debating with (Cameron? Boris? Satan himself?) gives me the opportunity to set out my views (yes, lucky you).
The proposition before us is that Scotland should be independent. That is, there is a proposal to change the constitutional settlement. It is proposed by the Scottish government. If it passes muster on Sep 18th, that will be enacted. If not, it falls, and we're back to the status quo.

The onus is therefore on the proposers to make the case and win a majority. In a healthy democracy we'd obviously expect interested parties to question the case being made. Need there be a 'better together' campaign unifying opposition? No, of course not. There could be three or five opposition groupings... or none, for that matter! And yet the Yes campaign are obsessed with the No campaign. Why isn't Cameron debating? Why is it called project fear? Why are they scaremongering?
That's none of the Yes business - they should be making the case and convincing people. And they are so far from doing that, that they are reduced to thrashing around at the No campaign and scorning and abusing Alistair Darling. Talk about missing the target!

A Mandate!

A new argument in the currency debate! Well, rather let me re-phrase that - a new way of avoiding the answer. Now, by voting 'yes' we are giving Alex a mandate to insist we use the pound. That's right - you thought you were being asked a straightforward question on independence. No, no. As Michael White shrewdly observes in today's Guardian -

Salmond duly asked for "a mandate from the people at home" for a currency union with what refo-nerds call rUK – the rest of us. He challenged Darling to "respect the will of the Scottish people" in the event of a yes majority among its 4.2m voters on 18 September – as if 55m voters in rUK would feel obliged to write an open cheque on his spending plans. Greek voters now know better.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Save Our NHS

You couldn't make it up. Here's the latest nonsense from Project Indy Fear. A Welshman, the great Labour politician Aneurin Bevan - one of the founders of the UK's National Health Service, being used to break up the UK.

Of course, the sudden and cynical emergence of the NHS in the campaign does show that time is running out for the Nats. Women in particular, seem to be more sceptical about the great advantages of inflicting division and chaos on our country - so what about some scare stories?
But surely this targeting of the NHS won't get any traction - after all, health is devolved, the funding of Scotland's NHS isn't ring-fenced and will rise along with spending overall at the UK level (and could always be augmented by varying income tax under existing powers) and we're all aware of the specialist units and research which we share UK-wide. 
Ooops, sorry, I let some rationality in. Tsk. Not long till the next debate. I wonder if Salmond will try and pedal any of this NHS nonsense tonight? Or will he stick to his strong suit... the currency aliens!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Beeb

What does that Lord Birt know anyway?
"The bold assertion in the Scottish government's white paper that a new Scottish public service broadcaster will work with the BBC in a programme-swapping joint venture is make believe," Birt states. "One way or another, after independence, Scottish viewers would have to pay to receive BBC services."

Another one of the bastards! The White Paper is quite clear what is in Scotland's best interests. We want our cake and we're going to eat it - with jam on it. Jam today and jam tomorrow.
Luckily we have Fiona Hyslop who will surely step up to the plate (no, sorry, enough about cake) ... she'll set the record straight! 

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish culture secretary, declined to comment on Birt's criticisms and his claims BBC programmes would be sold to the highest bidder in Scotland. Her spokeswoman repeated the position taken in the white paper, saying a joint venture between the BBC and SBS would "give continuity of supply to the BBC and continuity of programming to the SBS, such an arrangement is in the best interest of all concerned and will ensure that decisions about broadcasting in Scotland are made in Scotland".

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Delusional George

A split from the UK would not threaten Scottish banks 

Ignore the unionists’ scaremongering about the financial sector

What what?? Who is spouting this? Step forward George Mathewson - the mentor of Fred Goodwin and now an advisor to Alex Salmond. So a man of impeccable credentials with no axe to grind. Ahem. And yet the Yes camp have been reacting to this 'Opinion' piece (online only) as if it was the Holy Grail. It's the FT, after all!!
In one particularly deluded passage, George writes...

Independence will bring new opportunities for Scotland’s financial sector – which is one of the country’s strengths, though it is neglected by the Westminster government and its London-centric policy. 

Neglected? What Chutzpah!! What have the Romans ever done for us? George, they pumped £45Bn into bloody RBS. Onto the public balance sheet! Largely paid for by English taxpayers. Quite incredible. The man has no shame at all.

Oil !

Yes, let's talk about. Must we?
It's an earner, isn't it? A good thing.
On the basis that thereabout 90% of the stuff on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) lies off Scotland and the Islands to the north, and imagining that 'we' input that to the UK Treasury, then Scotland is a net contributor to the UK's coffers! Well, most years. All good.
And even better, if we kept that to ourselves post-independence, as we surely will, then we'll be in the money. Hence lots of stories circulating that the UK is downplaying new oil finds (until after a no vote), and overstating the depletion of the oil reserves, the bastards, once again.

Well look here, 'we' have never lived on the seabed (for a few epochs anyway). We're lucky that there is oil out there. And yet we propose to draw a line in the sea out from 'our' border (the place where we stopped fighting the English 500 years ago) and say that anything north of that is 'ours'. We'll have the Shetland stuff too, thanks, although they're a bit of a recent addition to the Kingdom. And those people that just live down the coast a bit - those prosperous souls in Seahouses, Newcastle, South Shields, Sunderland.... they're not getting any of it! Nor their wee weans. That's because we're the wonderful social democratic Scots, the enemies of inequality. The champions of fairness. And we'll fight you for it, just as we did 500 years ago!
Progressive politics, indeed. Back to the new world order.