Aren't we already losing Scotland?

The current strategy to save the Union actually breaks the ties that bind us - along with the constitution

9 November 2013

9:00 AM

9 November 2013

9:00 AM

Westminster has been gripped by talk of a referendum this week. But the excitement hasn’t been about the vote in ten months’ time that will decide whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, but about the possibility of an EU referendum in four years’ time. South of Hadrian’s Wall, Scotland’s vote on independence is fast in danger of becoming the forgotten referendum.

If the Scottish referendum is the forgotten one then the Welsh one is the one ‘nobody’s ever bloody well heard of’. Last week, David Cameron announced that there would be a vote in Wales to decide whether the assembly there should be able to vary the rate of income tax. This is, by any reasonable standard, a significant change to the fabric of the United Kingdom. Yet, in a sign of how inured we have become to constitutional tinkering, it was not front-page news in the London press.

This diet of constant constitutional change is putting the Union in danger. Too often these new arrangements are being pushed through for tactical, rather than strategic, reasons. When I pushed one senior Cameroon about the rationale for devolving income tax varying powers to Wales, he responded by pointing to the number of marginal seats there.

Nowhere are problems being stored up for the future more than in the Scottish referendum campaign. Better Together, which is running the effort to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, have been at pains to stress that a No vote is not a vote for the status quo. Why? Because they know that more powers for Holyrood is a popular position. They responded to the news of more devolution for Wales by proclaiming that not only is the Scottish parliament receiving more powers because of last year’s Scotland Act but that ‘all of the parties are currently working on proposals to strengthen Holyrood even further. The only people standing outside this process are the SNP.’

Alistair Darling, who is leading the Better Together campaign, has made clear that, ‘If we vote to stay in the UK, I’ve always argued that devolution is not a concluded business. Undoubtedly there will be further measures.’ While David Cameron, in his only major intervention to date in the Scottish debate, promised last February that if the Scots vote to stay in the Union, he’d look again at the devolution settlement. As he himself said, ‘That means considering what further powers could be devolved.’

This approach might be the right way to minimise the pro-independence vote next year. But it risks a rejection of independence in 2014 being a pyrrhic victory for the Union. First, it offers the nationalists an opportunity that they can use to reopen the debate. They will argue that the Scots only voted ‘No’ because they believed that a slew of extra powers were coming to Holyrood. They will then claim that the devolution that has occurred is insufficient and that the Scots must be given a fresh choice.

Second, devolution has not, as George Robertson — one of its architects — claimed it would, ‘killed nationalism stone dead’. Instead, it has given a platform to the SNP that it would never have gained at Westminster. As long as there is a parliament where the SNP regularly holds power, the independence issue will never go away. It is, after all, the party’s reason for being.

The third and perhaps most important reason is that further devolution to Scotland will exacerbate the West Lothian problem. At the moment, Scottish MPs can still vote at Westminster on devolved matters. So far, English voters have proved remarkably unbothered by this asymmetry. But the outcry over the decision to keep shipyards on the Clyde open at Portsmouth’s expense suggests that English attitudes are hardening.

In cabinet there are those who believe the West Lothian question has to be answered before there is further devolution. One senior cabinet minister tells me that he would fiercely oppose any new Scottish settlement which did not contain such an answer.

At the last election, the Tories were committed to English votes for English laws. But the more powers that are devolved to Scotland, the more difficult this change becomes to enact. Under this system, one could easily have a United Kingdom government that did not have a Commons majority on a host of issues. What would happen if, say, a Labour government had stood on a manifesto of rolling back public service reform but then didn’t have an English and Welsh majority in parliament for those changes?

To the Liberal Democrats the answer to this question is clear: home rule for all. But it is hard to see how federalism could work in the United Kingdom given England’s size; England makes up more than 80 percent of the UK population.

An English parliament would be a body of outsize importance. It is all too easy to imagine how this situation would lead to a clash of legislative egos. Who would be the power in the land, the English first minister or the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? The stock response to this question is to suggest a series of regional English assemblies. But, as the overwhelming rejection of regional government for the North-east in 2004 showed, there is little appetite for that.

The Union is also being endangered by the fact that we are becoming less and less aware of what is going on in the rest of the United Kingdom. This problem is compounded by the message from Edinburgh that it is best for the English to stay out of Scottish debates.

Alex Salmond will publish his white paper on independence in just over two weeks’ time. It will set out the mechanics of how Scotland would leave the United Kingdom if it voted for independence. Tellingly the UK government’s planned attack on it, of which The Spectator has seen a copy, concentrates on the practical problems of independence, not an impassioned defence of the Union. There’ll be a blast from Danny Alexander on an IFS report on the fiscal implications of independence and Whitehall also wants to reignite the debate about whether an independent Scotland could negotiate EU membership within 18 months.

Uninspiring as this response may be, the polls suggest it will be enough. The real danger, though, is that the ties which bind Britain together are being so weakened that victory in the referendum will offer only a temporary respite for the Union.

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  • ProfessorPaulCairney

    Bear in mind that the UK Government has been dealing with Scotland ‘tactically’ for 150 years. The ‘settlement’ has always seemed fragile and unstable.

    • Pootles

      Not sure on the fragility and instability – both England and Scotland came together very nicely as the UK versus the rest of the world. Scots troops to the fore, for example, in the French and India Wars (the single greatest key to ensuring the world eventually spoke English), the American Revolution, the French Wars (though Irishmen to the fore on the Peninsular), Indian Mutiny, Great War, Second World War etc etc. Not to mention Scots medical doctors, engineers, and teachers (thaks to more unis than in England) in the Empire. Again, etc etc. Have a look at Prof Alvin Jackson’s book on the Union. Jackson (head of history at Edinburgh Uni) is an Oxford educated Ulsterman, and a fine historian.

    • Derick Tulloch

      In reality the settlement was pretty hands off until the Second World War. Before the rise of the centralized state in the mid 20th century ‘devolution’ was the natural state of much of the UK. The ‘blip’ is the centralized ‘UK’ industries and bureaucracies that Jambo described above.

      The British Empire is coming to an end, and that is not a bad thing. All empires end: some well; some badly. The trick we, all of us with good will, need to achieve is to manage that process without tears, or God forbid, blood. Let us part as friends and remain friends. Just not married any more.

  • Ricky Strong

    Oh the irony of a Scottish EU Member State being ‘free and independent’.

    • terregles2

      It will still be a self governing country that can vote whether of not to stay in Europe or leave Europe.
      If Scotland stays in the UK the Scottish votes in any EU referendum will be cancelled out by English votes.

      • Ricky Strong

        … just cancelled out by English votes?

        Do the voices of Wales, N.Ireland and those pro-EU Scottish not count?

        And don’t worry about the English votes affecting any Scottish votes to leave the EU, that’s one thing I’m certain we can both agree on. We best equally hope our political masters respect the vote when it is cast.

        • terregles2

          Ricky Scotland has a population of just over 5 million Wales just over 3 million Northern Ireland under 2 million. England has a population of just over 53 million. How could the combined voters within a population of under 10 million people change the direction of the voters within of a 53 million population.
          The fact is that if we are all still part of the UK then the larger English number of voters will decide whether or not all of the UK stays in or leaves the EU.

    • Kennybhoy


    • DougDaniel

      There’s a difference between “independent” and “isolated”. Scotland seeks the former, England apparently seeks the latter.

      • ButcombeMan

        “England seeks the latter”?

        Hardly, those who argue for leaving the EU are for doing more of what the UK always did, trade with the world, without trade barriers.

  • Stuart Crow

    I’ve never understood the logic behind the coalition trying to buy votes in Glasgow, where there are none likely to go there way, while shooting the Tory Party in Portsmouth and environs in the back of the head. There is already talk of putting up a “Pompey Party” candidate against the incumbent coalition MPs. It might not lead that far, of course, but the decision risks destroying the chances of one sitting Tory, one Lib Dem incumbent *and* his Tory opponent. Labour would win Portsmouth North, who knows what would happen in Portsmouth South.

    What happens if Farage uses Question Time tonight to announce he is standing against Hancock (or Vernon-Jackson, who is also complicit in this defence stitch-up) in 2015? Pompey is a powder keg at the moment.

    • Jambo25

      BAe wanted the ships to go to Glasgow simply because the yards there were of a size to build them, had their own highly sophisticated design team and could simply produce them faster and cheaper than Portsmouth. The old Vosper Thornycroft yard, at Portsmouth, hadn’t produced a big, sophisticated naval vessel for about 30 years.

      • Stuart Crow

        If you don’t even realise that it’s not “the old Vosper Thornycroft yard” we’re talking about, there’s not a lot more I can say.

        • Jambo25

          That’ll be the VT that moved to HMB Portsmouth in 2003 then merged with BAe in July 2008. Next. When was the last time Portsmouth built a large, sophisticated warship?

          • Stuart Crow

            Vosper have been in Portsmouth in various places since 1880-odd. Not quite sure what point you’re failing to make, but keep going.

          • Jambo25

            Look at your posting from 3 days ago. You were the one who declared that Bae Portsmouth wasn’t previously VT; presumably as a way to discredit my previous posting. I simply pointed out that you were wrong.

          • Stuart Crow

            Vosper have been in Portsmouth in various places since 1880-odd. Not quite sure what point you’re failing to make, but keep going.

  • AtMyDeskToday

    I’m not certain that there ever were any ties binding us together. Over the past hundred years the industrial landscape of Scotland has been repeatedly ravaged by English based companies closing their Scottish outposts and consolidating the work into their English factories. It’s only now that that same blight is being visited on an English town that we hear squeals of pain. Solidarity between the races in the UK was always a thin veil.

    • Pootles

      ‘The past hundred years’ is proably an exaggeration. Actually, the trend there is really post-war, and, in part, due to nationalisation. So, for example, steel and coal firms whose ownership and management were Scottish were nationalised into UK wide concerns. Shipbuilding (on and off depending on what was ‘in’ at the time) also saw something of the same. The other element is, of course, not English firms, but multinational, then globalised firms – impacting on all of the UK, not just one part of it. Similarly, it is not ‘only now that the same blight is being visited on an English town’ that we hear ‘squeals of pain’. You will remember that as ‘British Steel’ collapsed, it collapsed in the N-E of England, as well as in Wales and Scotland. Ditto the car industry, shipbuilding, heavy engineering etc. Finally, I’m not sure that the ‘native’ inhabitants of the UK are different ‘races’; not to mention the fact that there is a very high degree of intermarriage, not to mention less forma f**king, between the Irish, Welsh, Scots and English.

    • Jambo25

      I’ve written on this before but here goes again. My Grandads were British and Scottish. My dad was Scottish and British. I’m Scottish and the term British means hardly anything to my son despite the fact that he’s living in England now.

      My dad lived in a world of huge pan British nationalised and private employers. UK wide unions. My mum shopped at the Co-op (UK wide). Virtually all my male relatives did military service in an all British force. Various relatives; old and young; made livings out of the old British Empire.

      The Empire and it’s opportunities went years ago. The nationalised industries were sold off (Often to foreigners) by Thatcher. Large private UK employers are of decreasing importance to Scotland. Trades unions are a minority preoccupation up here. Hardly anyone now goes into the military up here and bases and support organisations have been closed down. As for the Co-op: hardly anybody shops there now. My wife and I shop in ASDA (US), Lidl or Aldi (German), Costco and Amazon (US again).

      Our mass broadcast media used to come from only the UK wide BBC and ITV. Most of the programmes were British. Those organisations have been joined by a plethora of locally (Scottish) based providers or by big international players like Sky. Even the news and current affairs in Scotland is different from England. High culture used to come to us Jockos by touring productions of the big London based ‘national’ companies. We never see them up here now. Instead we have Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the RSNO, Dunedin Consort etc.

      The same is true at the sporting level. Gone are the various old home international clashes in football, boxing etc. The annual Rugby 5(Now 6) Nations has been downplayed and wider competitions increased in importance. They promoted Anglo-Scottish rivalry but also a peculiar Anglo-Scottish connection.

      Add on the decrease in prestige and popularity of the monarchy, parliament, UK wide politics etc. The advent of the EU and Holyrood and you have a decreasing concern about what goes on at Westminster and less engagement with the main UK parties. In Scotland, at present, party membership seems to be something like as follows Labour, just under 10,000 members. Conservatives about 2,500 members. The Lib Dems are probably about the same as the Tories. The SNP has just about on the 30,000 mark in membership. I think, to be fair, that these figures are not certain since the UK parties are a bit coy about admitting to membership figures.

      What’s happened is that ‘Britishness’ has been destroyed as an identity up here. To see how far this has gone listen on iPlayer to Murray Pittock’s excellent series on R4 at 1.45 pm today.(7/11/13)

      • Pootles

        Speaking as an Englishman, who is married to a Scot (Highlander), and has lived in both Scotland and England, but is now back, probably permanently, in England, I think it is safe to say that among most English people ‘Britishness’ has also been destroyed. There are really only two strong blocs of ‘Britishness’. The first is the small-ish bloc of British/Unionist politicos and their hangers-on. The second is a bigger, and growing group of people in England who use the word ‘British’ in conjunction with some other nationality to describe their identity, e.g. British-Indian, British-Pakistani/Muslim, British-Whatever. In a strange way, this is the Empire returned – just as almost the last ‘native’ embers of Empire die out among the Scots, English, Welsh. Whatever way we sometime British look at this, it is, as someone else said, and in another context, ‘the end of a long song’.

        • Jambo25

          Fully agree Pootles. I don’t think that this destruction of Britishness purely applies to Scots. I think the problem for English people is even more complex for 3 reasons. 1) The fact that many English people never had the kind of double identity which Scots had being both Scots and British. If you remember John Major’s paean to Britishness, it was actually Englishness (Taken from Orwell) he described. So, when Britishness goes; what’s left? 2) Given the large and growing gap in living standards between different parts of England how much real national solidarity is there between say Sevenoaks and Huddersfield? What does a post-British England do about London? Finally 3). The thing that isn’t spoken about in certain sections of polite society. The effects of mass immigration on different regions and cities of England. What do Ludlow or Shrewsbury have in common with inner city Birmingham although they’re only about 40 odd miles apart?. What does Winchester have in common with Brixton?

          All countries have variety but the variety in certain areas of English life now seems so extreme as to make you wonder if there is actually anything left of Englishness? I don’t normally agree with him but this was a question asked by the historian David Starkey and I think he has a point Scotland has diversity but not to anything like the same extent. Not to put too fine a point on it; my neighbours in rural Dumfriesshire are very similar to my neighbours in Edinburgh.

          • Pootles

            At the risk of sounding as if I’m trying to set up a mutual appreciation society, I think that your post is one of the better ones that I’ve read on the Speccie’s site. I agree with all you say. In particular, the very wide gulf between areas that aren’t, geographically, that far apart. I live in Warwickshire – the Birmingham point you make is spot on. I often travel (by train) back through Birmingham New Street and have to walk to Moor Street for my next train – that short walk is in a different country than the walk I then make at the end of my journey. And, your point about London. Boris, the clever, Machiavellian creature, is right, from his money-sodden standpoint, to laud London as a new form of global life. But to me, it looks like some horror out of the film Blade Runner.

          • Jambo25

            I really noticed the obvious and growing disconnect in England about 10 years ago. My wife and I didn’t take our normal holiday in Germany or Austria that year but spent a few weeks visiting friends in England. We stopped off in Manchester, Shropshire the Home Counties and so on. A number of these places were obviously so unlike each other as to be a different country. De Grey’s tearoom, in Ludlow, is a million miles away from inner city Manchester. Chorleywood simply isn’t the same as my wife’s home city of Leicester. It isn’t just immigration, although that’s had a major effect on areas of England but it is what appears to be a growing difference living standards, prospects and so on between North and South.

            London is a special case and I would be interested to hear what others make of this but I get the impression, each time I visit London, that the city isn’t just increasingly different from the rest of the UK but that most of the inhabitants have no real interest in the rest of the UK. If I’m right then that may explain the sense of drift and lethargy you get from sections of our political and media classes when it comes to the problems that the ‘regions’ of the UK suffer.

          • DBarry

            “I visit London, that the city isn’t just increasingly different from the rest of the UK but that most of the inhabitants have no real interest in the rest of the UK.”

            “Most of the inhabitants”? – a lot of people to generalise about. I’ve lived here for 30 years, having been brought up in the North being told almost on a daily basis that Londoners eat babies.

            Perhaps being blamed for every misfortune, including the lies and misjudgements of Scottish and other politicians merely sitting in London, has something to do with the attitude you seem to think exists.

            I clearly remember the various ills of the 1950s and 1960s – pre Thatcher and certainly not all London based.

          • Jambo25

            I don’t think Londoners eat babies. I’ve lived and worked in the city as well. I still have friends there who I’ve visited, on and off, for years. However, to pretend that the city, particularly that part of it which contains the nation’s decision makers isn’t stunningly self absorbed and cut off from the main stream of British life is simply dishonest. As for the “Scottish” politicians. Keep them. I presume English politicians get a free pass.

          • DBarry

            “I presume English politicians get a free pass.”

            Of course they don’t. That’s why I said “and other”.

            The “mainstream” of British life also exists in London and the SE, whether you want to admit it or not.

            My in-laws are Scottish. Ex-pats in a country which is more than 50% black. Their immediate circle of friends is not only white, it’s Scottish white, so don’t talk to me about “self absorbed”.

          • Jambo25

            Your in-laws, though, don’t have a great deal of the direction of their new country in their hands. London does have control of what goes on in the UK. If you think that London is in the mainstream of UK life then, frankly, you ought to get out of London more. Incidentally, I am not attacking Londoners, merely stating something which is fairly obvious. London, as a city, is simply on a different scale from anywhere else in the UK. The structure of the economy, the ethnic and cultural mix of the population, the number of foreign born residents, the structure of the housing market. This does have an effect and I see it on my frequent visits to London and the South East. You may not agree. I can live with that.

          • DBarry

            Jambo – again, you don’t seem to read anything thoroughly.

            I said that the “mainstream” of British life ALSO exists in London and the SE. I used the word “also” to acknowledge that it exists outside London as well as in it. I did not say that London is categorically the mainstream of UK life. A large percentage of the population lives in London and the SE. To try to argue that they are not part of the “mainstream” (your word) is bizarre.

            Large chunks of industry in the North and Scotland (and, believe it or not, parts of London – remember the docks?) effectively committed suicide decades ago. I lived through the sad, ugly process and remember it well, as well as the attitudes which prevailed at the time. They’ve been blaming London (and “Fatcher”) ever since.

          • Jambo25

            1) What percentage of London is made up of the mainstream of British life? I’m sure that certain elements of the London population are in the mainstream of British life but what percentage?
            2) What percentage of the UK population lives in London? Any ideas?
            3) Is the South East, necessarily the same as London, in terms of attitudes, beliefs etc? I’m not sure that it is. If you bother looking back to my initial reply to Pootles I make a distinction between London and the wider south.
            4) Quote back to me where I blame anything, in my postings above, on “London (and “Fatcher”). For what it’s worth I do think that having the main parts of the political and media classes based in London really does pose a problem. WE tend to get policy making seen through a London lens or prism. That isn’t always very helpful to that 80 odd % of the UK which isn’t London.

          • DBarry

            “What percentage of London is made up of the mainstream of British life?”

            Around 8m in London and a similar number in the SE, depending on where you place the boundary. That’s a large percentage of the population for one region.

            As I said, “mainstream” is your word not mine. I’m not precisely sure what you mean by it, TBH, but I see no reason why the people of Manchester/Birmingham/Bradford/wherever qualify as more “mainstream”, whatever it means. The whole of the SE is not involved in politics and dismissing so many people out of hand is absurd and, arguably, bigoted.

            If you feel that Scotland is sufficiently strong, rich and homogeneous (had to smile at that) to go it alone, or, to be more precise, would be after independence, good luck. If it doesn’t work out, you can always blame London.

          • Jambo25

            Once again. Who blamed London?

          • IainRMuir

            So you’ve come to the amazing conclusion that everywhere in England is different, but Scotland is somehow uniform?

            A bit rich for a Scot to talk about divisions? Do you really live here?

            Good grief.

          • Jambo25

            No and I never wrote that. However, don’t let me stop you creating the straw men you wish to argue against.

          • ButcombeMan

            A very good post and very true.

      • Kennybhoy

        Well constructed, coherent argument.One of the best posts I have ever seen here or anywhere else in the blogsphere for that matter. Rather disturbing food for thought for a died in the wool Unionist such as myself.

        Some questions.

        1.What age are you?

        2.You wrote:

        ” …the term British means hardly anything to my son despite the fact that he’s living in England now.”

        3. I note that unlike yourself and your Dad and your Grandads you make no mention of how your son actually does see himself. How does he describe himself? What does he identify with?

        4. Accepting for agument’s sake that you are correct that “Britishness’ has been destroyed as an identity up here.” Then why isn’t the Yes campaign walking it?

        • Kennybhoy

          Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
          Who never to himself hath said,
          This is my own, my native land?
          Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
          As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
          From wandering on a foreign strand?
          If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
          For him no Minstrel raptures swell.
          High though his titles, proud his name,
          Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;

          Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
          The wretch, concentred all in self,
          Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
          And, doubly dying, shall go down
          To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
          Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.

          – Sir Walter Scott

        • Jambo25

          I’m early 60s. Came from a working class background but was public school educated after winning a bursary. Went on to an English university before doing post-grad up here. Dad was ex RN wartime service. Grandads both served in the first lot. 1 was an Indian Army regular. So I had but have rejected a classic ‘Unionist’ identity..

          My son is perfectly happy living in England but the town he lives in can hardly be called English any longer. There is no discernible local accent after wave after wave of immigration over the last 60-70 years or so. His partner is non-British in origin but has taken UK citizenship. He sees himself as exclusively Scottish but just not living here. He would be equally happy living in the USA or Germany and has actively thought of moving.

          Why hasn’t the Yes campaign been more successful? Well, the campaign has been miserably run and far too timid. Secondly, the media is heavily anti-independence and that counts. The main reason, however, is that most Scots are doing a calculation as to where their best interests, materially, lie and I don’t think they have been convinced yet that they have anything to gain or at least nothing to lose by going independent. Unlike a lot of pro nationalist posters on here I’ve never been all that sure that a Yes vote would be delivered. I am fairly sure that Scottish independence is an inevitability however for the reasons I outlined above. A nation state simply cannot go on and on when large chunks of the population feel no emotional or real cultural tie to that national identity. Go back to the episode of the Murray Pittock programme from Thursday and listen to the figures on how Scots identify themselves. They are interesting and for Unionists rather frightening I would have thought.

          • Pier66

            Jambo wrote that…My son is perfectly happy living in England but the town he lives in can hardly be called English any longer. There is no discernible local accent after wave after wave of immigration over the last 60-70 years or so.
            That’s happen when Labour go to power for long time!!!

          • Derick Tulloch

            This pro Scottish nationalist poster entirely agrees with “never been all that sure that a Yes vote would be delivered [in 2014]. I am fairly sure that Scottish independence is an inevitability”

            Not just fairly sure: certain. And for exactly the reasons you describe. There is a long term, generational, shift in identity taking place. Just look at the census. Even in Shetland the majority feel ‘Scottish Only’. The vast majority are principally Scottish. The centre cannot hold and a good thing too.

          • Trispw

            All excellent stuff. I think you could add that people like Alistair Darling and Johann Lamont, and the other unionist leaders lie through their teeth to us about being thrown out of the EU and Nato and having to renegotiate hundreds of thousands of treaties…

            But the facts are not so gloomy as the polls show them to be. Polls can be made to say more or less what you want them to say. There have been a few polls run by pro independence organisations (notably Wings over Scotland), which have shown a rather different point of view, but been studiously ignored by the London owned press, who put out “Scottish Editions” of their newspapers which usually have the English news with a few changed pages.

            The BBC has openly admitted that it is union supporting and will not be unbiased until the official campaign begins, and there is an obligation upon it to be just that.

            These are the most intelligently argues posts I’ve seen in the press. Thank you.

          • ButcombeMan

            There are a lot of people, I am one, of dual Scottish/English heritage. Am I a “Unionist” because if I lived in Scotland and had a vote I would vote “No”.

            Not really, I just do not see the point for Scotland of leaving the Union. It cannot be made out economically. I think the whole debate pointless but I do understand for a certain type of Scot, the psychological attraction of so called “independence”.

            I do not think that type of Scot will win the vote.

            I think an independent Scotland largely a mirage and blind alley. In reality Scotland will always be living alongside and be forced to interact with, even emigrate to, a far richer neighbour, just as Ireland has over the last century. If Scotland gets in trouble economically it will need England much more than vice versa.

            What is wrong with Scotland cannot be put right by independence no more than what is wrong with Middlesborough could be put right by “freedom for Teesside”.

            If Scotland leaves I will be sad, for Scotland, not for the Union. As I said in a post elsewhere, an England without Scotland is politically attractive.

          • Jambo25

            I don’t see independence as the cure for Scotland’s economic problems. I am sure, however, that, without it, many of our problems will not be solved: will not even, be attempted, to be solved. Unionists really have to take on board the fact that they are not really displaying a winning hand. The UK has been in comparative, if not absolute, decline since 1945. The country which invented the tank no longer has a tank manufacturing capacity. The country which dominated aero technology in 1945 has withdrawn from most areas of aircraft manufacture. The same is true of industry after industry lost or abandoned over the last 50-60 years.

            Nor would I be too sure that a post independence Scotland would simply go on being a contributor of skilled, educated labour to a larger, richer England. That was a ‘Union’ story. Scottish living standards are now possibly rather higher than the rUK average and various other economic indicators are probably better as well. One of the main reasons I am a nationalist is that I can see a reasonable future for a small, resource rich state with diversified and efficient service and manufacturing sectors. Particularly given that it’s population is small, homogeneous and with plenty of room to move about in. I am much less sanguine about rUK (or England) which is resource poor (Fracking might help.), crowded, with a culturally and ethnically divided population going north of 60 million, increasing tensions between regions, a capital city out of kilter with virtually everywhere else and a declining industrial base.

            It’s also worth remembering that a shared national identity requires shared cultural and emotional reference points. The point of my initial posting was simply that they seem no longer to be there for most Scots and English as well. Incidentally the attitudes and institutions which gave that old British identity weren’t weakened or destroyed by Scotnats but by the London based political and business classes as part of the centralisation of power which has been a constant narrative in British life since 1945. Thjat centralisation of power and control has also been, as Murray Pittock pointed out in last week’s series on Radio 4 another reason for Scottish dissatisfaction, especially amongst the local professional classes and a move against the spirit of the old Union settlement.

          • Trispw

            Perhaps we look for different things in our politics. We never elect Tory governments. We have one Tory MP, but we have a Tory government (with, I know, Liberal support), following Tory policies.

            Even when we have a Labour government, it is Blairite Labour, and that doesn’t suit the way we feel.

            We abhor food banks, bedroom tax, people being registered as fit to work a day before they die.

            The matter that are organised from Edinburgh are much more appealing to us. Free tertiary education, free care of elderly, a proper national health service without sell offs to ministers’ mates. We even have NHS dental services here again since the SNP is in government. Our water remains in public hands and prices are not increasing. We want, and voted for a public service post, but privatisation was imposed from london.

            I’m not criticising the way that England does things. They vote for that; they are entitled to it. We don;t but we get it anyway.

            There seems to me no reason why we cannot part amicably and work together on those things in which we have a joint interest. However, labour politicians in Scotland seem to feel that they will only be important (and rich) if they can get to London, get into government and be seen in the Rose Garden of the White House, standing close to someone who IS important.

          • ButcombeMan

            Extreme socialism, which you seem to be wanting, is not wanted by very many people in Scotland, or the UK.

            What is more, wherever it has been tried, it has failed.

            Ultimately it has only led to impoverishment of the masses.

            To suggest the UK as whole is unimportant is to underestimate our influence and economic importance . Of course it is less important than it was 100 years ago.

            An independent Scotland will be a pimple on the bum of the UK and of Europe. If it goes for the political model you want it will become even more impoverished and unimportant.

            No amount of rose tinted glass can change the facts of life.

          • Trispw

            I don’t think I’d call it extreme socialism, just decency.

            But we want something like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark have.

            That is the kind of decent society where you spend a good deal less of health and on crime.

            We want fairness and decency, not greed and war, which is what the UK is about.

            I fancy the UK is only allowed to pretend to be important as long as it pretty much tows the line with what America wants. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing and the fact that so many people snigger at you behind your back.

            But with the terrible poverty, Red Cross Parcels and food banks, all this is rather fur coat and no drawers.

            As for us being unimportant… my god, who gives a stuff about being important? I’d rather our people were fed and educated and the holes in the road were filled in, than that we were “important”…

    • monty61

      Indeed the vandalism that was Ravenscraig – way ahead of its Welsh nemesis on every measure – is well-remembered north of the Border and explains why anti-Thatcherism is quite so personal.

      • Pootles

        But not way ahead of what happened in Middlesbrough, & Redcar & Cleveland. The ‘enemy’ here was multinational, now globalised capital.

        • Jambo25

          The trouble is, Pootles, that that is the future our lords and masters, in London, chose for us.

        • ButcombeMan

          That will be the same, “multinational, now globalised capital” that has re-invented and made successful, UK car production, then?

          None of it incidentally, in Scotland.

          • Pootles

            I don’t think that M’brough, or Redcar & Cleveland were ever automotive centres – they were steel producing areas, and when I last looked (about a year ago), they still had all the characteristics of a post-industrial desert. As for automotive manufacturer, yes there has been a revival (but not so much in terms of numbers employed), with volume production in the hands of Nissan, Toyota, Honda, & General Motors, which do look like ‘multinational, global capital’. It is true that Linwood is no more, but given that closure came under Peugeot, that, too, sounds like ‘multinational […] capital’. In historical terms, the post-Great War decline of heavy industries, and textiles, in Scotland, the North of England, and Wales was, from the 1931 National Government onwards (up until 1979) partly offset by a deliberate, Westminster, regional policy that saw enfocred dispersal of new manufacturing industries to the areas most affected by heavy manufacturing decline. Do you think that an independent Scotland would be able to revive mass car production in Scotland?

          • ButcombeMan

            An Independent Scotland would be unlikely to revive mass car production.

            There is over capacity in car production in Europe with new plants in Eastern Europe, a harder working, more reliable,& cheaper work force than Scotland offers. The French industry has over capacity and is in trouble

            Nissan succeeds because it is very efficient. Scotland is also too far from markets. Why would any current UK manufacturer move or expand to Scotland?

            The high status vehicles in China and the Middle East , Bentley, RR, LR, Jaguar, partly have that status because they are “Made in England”.

            Interesting that Ford’s latest “world car” the Ecosport, is built in Brazil. That shows how things are going as does production of various goods in Turkey. (Which also gives the lie to those who say UK NEEDS to be in the EU).

            The UK will have to work hard to hang on to the production it has.

            There could be opportunity for Scotland in parts manufacturing for the English plants.

          • Pootles

            I would agree with all that, so now I’m thinking I misunderstood the thrust of your first post. If so, apologies.

          • Jambo25

            Unemployment and under-employment is still much higher now than it was before the older basic industries of the North, Midlands, Wales etc were closed down.

            Quite a few multi-nationals do operate in Scotland. That’s one of the things I noted as weakening British identity earlier. The old UK wide companies and nationalised enterprises have declined in importance. The local and multinational have gained in importance.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Races? What races? Is there a Scottish race? You mean those wee men with knobbly knees?

  • HD2

    The solution has been blindingly obvious for 40 years (since 1974): devolve to COUNTY level almost ALL that is currently run from Westminster – VED being an obvious one (each French Department sets their own rates, so why not UK counties?).
    That means unemployment pay; housing rates; soc sec benefits; health; education; road upkeep – even income tax rates. The whole lot, save Defence and FO matters.

    Because Darwin teaches us that competition and diversity leads to evolution and more raid progress in an ever-changing world, whilst centralisation of power does the precise opposite (ie Darwin right, Lenin & Marx (etc) entirely wrong).

    Whitehall has demonstrated time and time again, on virtually every single issue, that it is incapable of making the correct decision – indeed, ANY decision – which benefits the whole population of the UK. Nor could it EVER do so – what’s right for Cornwall is not right for The City. So devolve power to County Councils and allow them to get on with running their own areas for the benefit of their own electorates.

    For that reason, I’d devolve final decision-making powers on ALL planning matters to PARISH Councils, since they are the people who have to live with the consequences.

    Oh – and I’d insist on local e-referenda on virtually every topic – the Council would be instructed BY the people to work FOR the people, doing WHAT the people WANT.

    And that does NOT include more parking restrictions, resident permits, speed humps, ‘compliance officers’ and much else besides.

    • monty61

      Frankly I’ll take my chances with Westminster’s preening politicos, the horror of devolving important decisions to a collection of self-appointed nimby nutjobs (of right or left) doesn’t bear thinking about.

    • HurstLlama

      Spot on, Mr. HD2. Several US states have populations smaller than UK counties and they seem to manage their own affairs quite well.

      I think you are wrong on parking restrictions etc., The council should make its mind up and live with the consequences.

      Of course the problem with devolution to local level is money. For it to work there has to be a local tax-base which can sustain local services without significant and long term transfers from other areas. No politician is going go near that nest of vipers ever again.

      • Kennybhoy


  • RAnjeh

    Time for English devolution. Status quo is unfair on the English and perhaps it’s time that there is a form of ‘English votes for English MPs’, income tax powers for local government, fewer government departments and more powers given locally.

  • simmo70


    Forget the thought of us having an ally within the
    Monarchy it has very little Powers .We portray we have a Democracy but in fact
    only on face value .The British Constitution is unwritten ,

    uncodified meaning there is no actual Document stating
    how we are Governed .

    Different procedures make up our Sham Democracy . Acts of
    Parliament , Treaties ,EU Law ,Common Law ,Conventions ,Royal Prerogative and
    Works of Authority .

    The making of a British Constitution has reared his head
    on several occasions but given the diabolical state of Politics at present
    that’s the last thing we the Public want .Every Draconian measure that all
    Parties have been complicit in would be implemented and Enshrined in Law and would be a catastrophe for our Freedoms
    and Voice .

    Blair on the crest of a wave through his three terms in
    office wanted Britain to become a Republic and be its First President .If it
    had progressed we would have Legalised Criminals in place now instead of just
    Criminals .

    Our rights of Common Law are far reaching and put us on a
    par with the Criminal Politicians that deny us our basic rights .They have
    taken it upon themselves to award themselves all types of Authority ,but when
    it comes down to basic Common Law Cameron is just another guy in the street on
    our level .Through their Lies deceit and coercion we know no better that’s why
    they have put in place measures to blackmail us into submission by monetary
    control and the Power we have on the same par as them is lost .Take nothing as
    read question question question !


  • Andrew Constantine

    The only two active English political parties (English People’s Party and the English Democrats) have until recently sought parity for England within the Union. Both of these small parties this year have seen their memberships vote for English independence. For the members of both these parties, the Union is finished,

  • Bill Cruickshank

    The general thrust of your article is correct i.e. the union is finished, the only debate is picking the date on which the divorce papers will be signed. However, interestingly you seem to think that the unionist polls are accurate. There have been two ‘crowd funded’ polls commissioned by the website ‘Wings over Scotland’ which show that the difference between YES and NO is much closer than the mainstream media would have us believe. This much narrower gap between the two campaigns is also being found on the doorsteps, streets, pubs and clubs of Scotland by YES activists. The YES campaign are also way ahead on social websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is also interesting to note that the very latest poll released today, shows a 10% drop in the No vote in a year, a worrying trend for the unionists, considering the deluge of negative propaganda which has been thrown at the Scottish people by ‘Project Fear’ (the unionists own name for their campaign). The latest salvo from the unionists landing in the last few days in the row over shipbuilding, the latest tactic being to try to blackmail the Scottish people into voting No, otherwise the Clyde will be denied the new Type 26 Frigate contracts from the MoD. That particular tactic will not work and people are already saying on the doorstep that they will not give in to blackmail. I strongly suspect the YES campaign has gained thousands of YES’s on this issue alone.
    I am extremely confident that Scotland will vote YES next September and I would suggest that you are slightly out in your thinking that you are “already losing Scotland”, the truth is, Scotland is already lost!

    • celtthedog

      Truth is, there’s always been at least 33.3% of Scots who opposed the union with England — even when my father was a young man in the 1950s — and this one third of Scots will indeed vote to leave the Union next year.

      Unfortunately for that third, that leaves the remaining two-thirds of Scots who aren’t interested.

      The idea that the polls showing a majority of Scots want to remain in the Union have somehow been “fixed” by Unionists or are “unionist polls” is simply the argument of a crackpot.

      Of course the Nationalists are ahead on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — they’re a noisy minority who insist on boring everyone with their views.

      The Nationalists’ campaign of “independence in Europe” is logically impossible (one reason why they’ve been mute on that recently, along with the promise that an independent Scotland will adopt the Euro — now Mr. Salmond insists Scotland will keep the pound).

      Referendums tend towards conservative outcomes. In order to win the referendum, the Nationalists will need to be at least 10% ahead to avoid losing to the status quo. Even the Nationalists don’t pretend they’re anywhere near that.

      The Anglophobes of the world are going to be disappointed that the UK survives once again.

      And long may Great Britain keep on disappointing them.

      • scotcanadien

        “they’re a noisy minority who insist on boring everyone with their views”

        You mean just like you with your cockeyed opinion that polls favouring NO are right and polls favouring YES are wrong.

        • Fergus Pickering

          What polls say that te YES vote will win. I haven’t heard one. But then I’m only a poor Southerner.

          • DougDaniel

            There was a Panelbase poll in August that had Yes in front by 1%. But that’s by the by. The real story in the polls is the No percentage slowly shrinking, and the Undecided percentage slowly rising. That shows there are a lot of people who used to support the union who are now having second thoughts. They want the Yes campaign to convince them.

            Polls will start showing Yes being ahead with increasing regularity in the spring, and by the summer, those Undecideds will start shifting to Yes in large numbers. By the time the referendum comes along, there won’t be a pollster in the land showing No being ahead.

            (Well, except maybe YouGov…)

          • celtthedog

            Well, well, well, the Scots nats out in force — who’d have thought it? The noisy minority I spoke of has revealed itself — goodness what a shock!

            And yes, they’re boasting about their confidence, denying their Anglophobia and ranting and raving because the polls aren’t going their way (because the evil Unionists have somehow “fixed” them).

            For the historically illiterate, the term “Great Britain” was coined to refer to the separate countries of England and Scotland under one monarch (a Scot) It does not mean that Britain is “great” as in wonderful.

            To repeat:

            The Anglophobes of the world are going to be disappointed that the UK survives once again.

            And long may Great Britain keep on disappointing them.

          • rullko

            Who are you quoting when you say, complete with inverted commas, that the Nats are claiming the polls are “fixed”? You’re the only one who’s used the word here, and no one else that I can see has argued this.

          • Marque
          • rullko

            A weird article, certainly, but even it doesn’t state that the polls are “fixed”.

          • Marque

            I wrote it, so I’m curious why you find it weird. Maybe not your style, but that’s fine. I can’t definitively ‘state’ that the polls were fixed, because I have no idea where thay get their raw data, or simply made it up. I know of canvassers in Scotland who in their ‘non-scientific’ polling, which involvs actually talking to people, it’s at least 2-1 in favour of ‘yes’, and among te poor it’s virtually unanimous. I also wrote this one, which is more specific about one polling firm. My broader point is that polling throughout the UK is potentially fraudulent, and is used as a tool for mass manipulation.


          • rullko

            You describe as a “methodological problem” the fact that a
            poll advertised as gauging the view of people in England towards
            independence consulted only people in England. Guess I found that a bit odd.

          • Marque

            Look at the hypertext link under ‘conduct a survey’ as to the way the BBC reported it. They didn’t make clear that they were talking about the English. If you go to the survey, you can see, but the way it was reported was unclear.

          • DougDaniel

            “The Anglophobes of the world” – wow, that’s some victim mentality you’ve got going on there. Love the way you talk about the UK and Great Britain as if they’re one and the same there. Not a fan of the part of the UK to the west of Scotland, no?

          • John Clegg

            If you are so sure, why don’t you bet your house on the result then – no, I don’t think you will, you are just idle chatter.

          • DougDaniel

            What a strange comment. You regularly bet your house on things to show how sure you are of things?

            No, I don’t think you do, you are just idle chatter.

          • Marque

            The polls are corporate hogwash. One of them polled Canadians, and another the English. http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/8258-uk-polling-induces-deep-scepticism

      • Bill Cruickshank

        We are all entitled to our opinion, but I think calling the present dysfunctional UK “Great” Britain is certainly “the argument of a crackpot”! As is insisting that “Nationalists will need to be at least 10% ahead to avoid losing to the status quo.”
        Two points:
        1. Scotland is a democracy, one more vote for YES over NO will be sufficient to secure independence;
        2. Alistair Darling (leader of the NO campaign) is never done assuring Scots that a NO vote is not a vote for the “status quo”. All three unionist parties are falling over themselves to assure Scots that there will be further substantial powers devolved to Scotland in the unlikely event of a NO vote.
        You may think it appropriate to call those who you disagree with crackpots, but this particular “crackpot” has canvassed many Scots in recent weeks and I am convinced now more than ever, that Scotland will return a very comfortable majority YES vote.

      • terregles2

        People who are voting YES in 2014 are not Anglophobes far from it. Many English people living in Scotland are out campaigning for a YES vote. We all have English friends and family and being called an Anglophobe is deeply insulting. We are against the disgraced Westminster government not English people.
        Many of my friends in England tell me they wish they had the chance to get rid of Westminster government and the anachronistic House of Lords.
        The UK has the highest child poverty figures in Western Europe. Child poverty is higher here than it is in Ireland. Westminster squanders billions on Trident and HS2. It rewards the bankers and punishes the poor. It drags all of the UK into illegal war in Iraq and squanders billions in Afghanistan. There is very little that can be described as great about Britain.
        I hope that when Scotland is independent the English people put pressure on the English politicians to stop mismanaging their resources and demand a better government just like Scotland will do in 2014.

        • Charles Patrick O’Brien

          Scottish independence will be the nudge that people need in the south to come into the modern world.

        • Pier66

          If the Scots hate so much westminster, and their misguided policies, that would vote for independence in September 2014 will be able to express their own will ‘!

      • Charles Patrick O’Brien

        You really don’t have an inkling as to how and what is going on,I have never felt this confident since 1967,when I “helped” hand out leaflets,in Hamilton.

        • terregles2

          I am sire Fergus wherever you live in the UK you will be aware of how much the media manipulate the truth.

      • Greig Craig

        Attitudes like yours will ensure that Independence prevails.

  • Thomas William Dunlop

    “It is, after all, the party’s reason for being.”

    I have to laugh all of you in the London circus, you still don’t get it do you?

    The SNP have “stumbled” onto something that a lot of us poor sods thought was not possible anymore under the neo-liberal hegemony- Competent caring government for the benefit of the people, not just the narrow elites and there lieges.

    A lot of peopel will weighing this up and contrasting it with westminster government in the next year. This after all, all about the future, not the past

    • terregles2

      Indeed who in their right mind would choose to be governed by the incompetent Westminster rabble. As they flouder around destroying the UK the national debt is still rising.

  • Stephen Gash

    Nothing binds the English to Scots except the shackles of the Union that the English have NEVER been asked about. 70% plus of people in England say they are English not British. The British are a minority in England, but are the worst enemies of the English. The so-called United Kingdom is the single biggest cause for the mutual hostility between the peoples of these islands, but the English wrongly get the blame for everything. Most English would gladly see the back of this Union that has blighted our economy for 306 long and miserable years.

    • rullko

      Fair enough, but the Scots have “never been asked about” the Union either.

      • Stephen Gash

        You’ve had a couple of referenda on a Scottish parliament. We have had nothing as a nation about devolution (ie the Union).

        • Derick Tulloch

          To be fair Stephen, we did campaign for it for 80 years first. But I am right with you on the possibility for England to blossom, freed of the ghastly drapes of fake Britishness

          • Max Bennie

            So if you’ve campaigned for 80 years, why is support so low. You’ve had enough time.

          • JAMES MORRISEY

            @”So if you’ve campaigned for 80 years, why is support so low. You’ve had enough time”

            I really think you should be directing that at the Tory, Lib-Dem and Labour parties in Scotland.

            A 4% swing is all that is needed for a successful Yes vote and it’s just under a year to go with more of the UK slash and burn cuts to come.
            The actual Yes campaign has only been in existence for just over a year
            If you are talking about the SNP then the SNP have won two elections one of which got an overall majority above all the odds and what the electoral system was designed against. The Scots Govt even after being in office since 2007 is still massively popular.

          • Max Bennie

            The Scottish Govt. may be popular, but independence isn’t. If independence was such a good idea, you’d have thought that they’d have managed to convince more people within that year.

          • JAMES MORRISEY

            As I said there is just under a year to go. only an 8% gap and only 4% swing needed. It’s at this point I should add that at the last Scottish election the SNP were 11% behind with just two weeks to go and all polls predicting a Labour win.

            The actual election result was a historic SNP landslide.

            Yes camp is confident and Project Fear is in a panic hence Michael Moore’s sacking.

            Public meeting and debate after debate when they take polls show a huge swing to Yes when people hear the two arguments

            Check the a couple of weeks back about a debate at Abertay University in Dundee (the UK’s centre of educational excellence for the videogames industry, among other things), in which the SNP’s Stewart Hosie – debating Labour’s Lord Robertson – turned round a large pre-debate majority of 59% to 21% for the Union and converted it into a clear majority of 51-38 for Yes. (A stunning 25% swing.)

            Google “How it’s Done wings over Scotland”

          • Derick Tulloch

            We ARE having a referendum, are we not? Because a Party which exists to regain Scotland’s Independence is a majority Government in a proportional parliament. And as for the referendum itself, well, we will see how much support there is next Autumn. Bring it on

          • Max Bennie

            Of course, although that party did fail to receive 50% of the vote due to low turnout…

          • Derick Tulloch

            Weak, Max. The views of those who do not bother to vote don’t count.

          • Max Bennie

            Weak, but true. Surely they are still valid?

          • Derick Tulloch

            Not really understanding your point here. Somebody doesn’t vote, they don’t influence the result. Elections (and referenda) are won on the basis of those who vote, not those who don’t. The only exception I can think of is the 1979 vote on the then proposed Scottish Assembly – when the dead voted no because of the 40% ‘rule’. Yes won the vote, but the dead outvoted them. We are not doing that again

          • Max Bennie

            Exactly. There was strong evidence in that referendum to suggest the outcome did not reflect the will of the majority.

  • DougDaniel

    You flag up lots of important points about the problems with the current settlement in the UK, why lop-sided devolution doesn’t work, why more lop-sided devolution won’t work either. There’s a very simply solution to all of them, but you fail to see the biggest problem of all – the union itself.

    It’s something I can’t quite get my head around. People are determined to tie themselves up in knots trying to find the solution to an unsolvable problem, simply because they refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room. What is it about the union that is so important? Why is preserving the union worth going through all these convoluted thought processes? What exactly are people trying to save?

    It was the same problem with the Calman Commission, which was the body set up to make suggestions for further devolution that eventually led to the toothless Scotland Act 2012. Its remit ended “…to secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom”, dooming it to failure before they even started work. People who seek constitutional reform within these islands needs to ask themselves a question: “do I seek the best form of governance for the various parts of these isles – no matter what – or do I seek purely to keep the union intact?” The two are not the same thing. If people truly want a settled constitutional relationship between the various parts of these isles, they need to accept that dissolving the union may be required.

    • Kennybhoy

      “What is it about the union that is so important?”

      Are you a family man?

      • DougDaniel

        Well, I’m a member of a family, yes. That includes relatives in Germany. Lovely people. Wouldn’t ask them to make all the important decisions in my life, though – and I certainly wouldn’t hand them all my money and then say “can I please get some of it back to spend on the housekeeping, please? Once you’ve finished buying weapons that you’re never going to use, that is. And giving large chunks of it to your rich friends. Oh, you’ve sold the family silver? But I didn’t want you to do that! You’d better have gotten a good price, at least. What do you mean you sold it for £6 billion less than it was worth? Are you stupid?”

  • Wang King

    I was just saying to my Scottish cousin Wang Kerr the other day – what is it that rump UK wants out of Scotland that it is so desperate to hang onto her for? Can somebody pleeese answer that? Is there a hidden agenda here – nuclear weapons, defence etc If Scotland is such a burden as the Tories often make out then why the need to grasp to her with every last breath? An answer please.

    • Henry Hooper

      That’s a no-brainer….£1.1/2 trillion in oil revenue, greatest subsider of the London World City Project, largest per head tax contributor to the British state (for each of the next 50 years as its has been for each of the last 30 years), dumping ground for WMD’s that no-one else wants located nearby, retention of permanent seat at UN, a out-performing exporter and outstanding performer in the balance of payments league
      In summary they’d lose a great “giver” the UK state at the expense of the great “taker” from the UK (London/ SE).Simples.
      Vote ‘Yes!’ in 2014…it just makes sense

      • IndependentEngland

        A NO vote will take some explaining. I expect it will somehow be the fault of us English. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and Scotland returns a resounding YES.

        • Henry Hooper

          ‘Fault of us English’…absolutely not!…we Scots as always are our own worst enemies.

          If the No’s win, which it looks liek it will at this point, it is almost entirely because of the 100% unionist biaised mainstream media that reports, exaggerates and emphasises “uncertainties” as espoused hourly by Project Fear, whilst at the same time omitting to report the positive side of Independence or when it does by either misrepresenting with twists and distortion.

          I personally (with an English background myself!) initially favoured Devo-max, but the way in which the UK parties ensured removal of that option convinced me that i would be barking up the wrong tree, if i was hoping for democracy.

          If there is a No next year, on the plus side…Independence is inevitable, its coming sooner or later…..the vast majority of the No’s think that voting ‘No’ means further devolution, which wil not be forthcoming and they’ll realise then what a mistake they’ve made.


          • Max Bennie

            So you’re saying that Scots will reject independence because they are subservient to the media. You don’t sound like you have much confidence in your countrymen. If you don’t trust them to think for themselves, why do you trust them to run an unrealistically golden paradise you call an “independent Scotland”.

            Positive side of independence? The Yes campaign abandoned the positive vision a long time ago. “Vote No and Westminster will GET you!” is their sole message now. Aye, that’s positive – not.

            Do you have a crystal ball? Do you know for certain that No means nothing even though no one has said so yet?

          • Henry Hooper

            Most people, most people, get all their news from two sources, the TV news or their daily rag (all heavily anti-independence without exception…..worst culprit being the Scotsman).
            Everyone, you and I, have opinions formed depending on their sources…though i do have to say yours appears very limited, if these are the views you have.
            The only unbiaised new reporting i’ve seen has been from RT, France-24 and Al-jazeera…..not exactly typical eh?
            The BBC (or BBBC as its colloquially termed now) has alreadyadmitted it does not intend to provide fair coverage.
            Westminster will get us…thats factual, its concurrent, it already happening !…a ‘No’ is just a license to allow it to get worse
            There is NO left of centre party. New Labour policies are Tory policies. A No vote IS a Tory vote
            WMD’s will still be 25 miles from my home.
            Continuing increasing inequality.
            By far the biggest issue for Scots is that democracy UK style isn’t working. Continually getting governments that we not only didn’t vote for but overwhelmingly reject that imposes policies on us we equally overwhelmingly reject flys in the face of what democracy is.
            A No means nothing, because not only is no-one making a committment to do so (ever wonder why?..probably not eh), but Cameron forced the second question, the easily most favored option out of the referendum and this was fully and wholeheartedley supported by all the unionist parties.
            Scots were shafted in 1979 and is likely to be so again of we vote No. So no i don’t have crystal ball, just experience/ lessons learnt but with the likes of respected commentators like Andrew Neil, Brian Wilson and Michael Kelly and wildcard Labour MP’s, e.g. Iain Davidson.
            Most UK politicians, quite frankly and understandably (to an extent) don’t give a damn about 10% Scotland. The UK basket case economy is where they should focus on
            I would contend that a No vote doesn’t entirely mean nothing…..it means amongst many many other things removal of devolved powers and continuing lack of democractic representation.
            Wisely, the Yes campaign (…not SNP campaign) are saving up the negative about being in the UK till next summer, in the meantime, no-one, not a single person can provide me with a postive statement in support of the slogan that we are are somehow ‘Better Together’. Can you?
            Thought not. There is none.

          • Max Bennie

            That’s exactly the kind of unfounded scaremongering message that the Yes people intend to publicise over the next year, as they try to find new ways to sell independence to the people of Scotland. The main difference between the two campaigns is that what Better Together says is usually backed up by expert findings, whereas what Yes Scotland says is usually a strong misinterpretation of expert findings designed to mislead.

            Remember, this is not 1979. We are wiser to those in power and they have less control over the people than in Thatcher’s time.

            “all heavily anti-independence without exception…..worst culprit being the Scotsman” – You got any evidence for that? I’d say The Scotsman is pretty balanced, given that one of their columnists is a former SNP member who has praised the SNP and independence in a number of articles. The Herald, meanwhile, does feel slightly pro-SNP, and this is not helped by some of their columnists and contributors, whose writing has a rather anti-No slant.

            For you, I suggest keeping on open mind. Do not blindly obey everything the Yes people tell you, question everything political campaigns tell you, especially if it comes from the politicians themselves. Listen to what the experts say, and make up your own mind using evidence.

          • Henry Hooper

            Sir…you are plainly a troll…a very ignorant and indoctrinated one at that. I have changed from unionist to Pro-Independence…..based wholly on evidence – nothing else!.

          • Max Bennie

            If that is the case, you have an incredibly bizarre definition of troll. Either that, or you, like many other online indy supporters, are simply labelling me a troll because you don’t agree with what I’m saying. Does trying to insult someone like that without grounds not make you a troll? If you don’t agree with what I’m saying, why not just say that instead of resorting to puerile cybernat tactics?

          • Henry Hooper

            That’s exasperation at your condescending tone for you……. I am finding this to be typical of unionist political indoctrination..not so far removed from the religious type.
            OK…now with a little time on my hands…..

            1/ “Better Together says is usually backed up by expert findings”
            What a weak attestation, utter nonsense!…..they certainly are stated to be experts, however have you checked their backgrounds, checked their political views and affiliations, and then compared and analysed their views with the views of the experts on the Yes side of the argument.
            Verify each of their cross-references rather than their interpretation. The Yes side win hands down every single time.

            2/ Are you really so far removed from reality to actually believe the Scotsman is anything other than an SNP bashing, BritNAT quote dispensing propaganda machine, if you do, then you are the ONLY one, the ONLY one. It is difficult to accept any of the views you might air, if you seriously think they are in any way whatsoever fair and balanced.

            Editorially to its credit the Herald does provide balanced reporting, however editorially, guest columnists excepted, it is undeniably pro-union.

            You need to broaden your horizons with your reading material and suggest you, not I, “keep an open mind”…after all it is i that changed from Pro-union to Independence, i repeat again ‘wholly based on evidence’ and facts. I questioned what i read and heard in all the mainstream media and sought out verification of these “facts”. Some of what i found was true too to an extent, however on balance there is an absolutely overwhelming case for Scotland being an incredibly successful little country in all important areas.
            Westminster is clearly not working for Scotland and the unionists parties have thrown their principles away, leaving Scotland without a representative democracy that reflects Scotland needs and wishes. However it is the economic aspects of Independence that are the most enlightening, butonly of course if you care to seek out “the other side of the story”, as i have.


            ……….. if only 50% of this is true, the UK clearly isn’t working for anyone outwith London/SE

            Vote ‘Yes!’ for representative democracy and a future we determine for ourselves
            Vote No and continue to be governed by governments we didn’t vote for imposing policies on us we time and time reject.
            Vote No for more austerity, continued subsidisation of London/SE, WMD’s, removal of Barnett, exit from Europe, more illegal foreign wars, more anti-immigration, more inequality, Death of the NHS, death of free universal education, removal of powers back to Holyrood.
            A No vote is a Tory vote.

            Would someone please, please, please provide me with a positive statement that supports the case that for Scotland we are ‘Better Together’
            …….still waiting

          • Max Bennie

            1. How about this then?
            http://www.bettertogether.net/blog/entry/scottish-science- and-research-better-as-part-of-the-uk

            2. Interestingly, it is only die-hard nationalists such as yourself and absolutely no one else who accuse The Scotsman of being biased. Or indeed any newspaper for that matter. The Herald has regular contributors, such us Ian Bell, who writes rather bitter pieces which sometimes have go at the No campaign. The Scottish media in general is undeniably neither pro-union, nor ultimately pro-independence.

            With all due respect, surely questioning what the Yes campaign is saying would result in rejecting independence, just as questioning religion would result in atheism? In that sense, the Yes campaign are a bit like evangelicals trying to get the rest of us to believe in their religion Their golden, sunlit vision of a better Scotland really does seem too good to be true, especially when all they seem to say nowadays is either “Vote Yes or Westminster will GET YOU!”, or “[insert service] will be first-class in an independent Scotland”. They’re even now saying that shipbuilding would be secure even though they wouldn’t be our ships any more. Everything they say is either overoptimistically positive or incredibly negative. Just what is going on here?

            Please do not recycle the old SNP scaremongering. This is not an election, and most of those problems will not be eradicated from the UK by a Yes vote.

            Also, why do the nationalists demand a “positive” case, even though they themselves have pretty much ditched their own positive case? Why can’t you be happy with A case? Why are the Yes people being so unnecessarily fussy? It’s like a child saying they don’t want food with any little bits in it.

          • Henry Hooper

            “Die hard Nationalist”..i’ve voted once for the SNP in my life…..and I’m not exactly young.
            A No vote IS a Tory vote.
            The rest of your post i frankly not worth responding too

          • Max Bennie

            You may at least show the common decency to reply anyway. So I shall ask again:

            Why do the nationalists demand a “positive” case, even though they themselves have pretty much ditched their own positive case? Why can’t you be happy with A case? Why are the Yes people being so unnecessarily fussy? It’s like a child saying they don’t want food with any little bits in it.

            And you still haven’t explained why “A No vote IS a Tory vote”.

          • Henry Hooper

            If we allow ourselves to be governed by parties the rest of the UK vote for we will end up with the Tory, Party the Labour party or the LibDems.
            Cons look a god bet to win next UK election, probably with a UKIP coalition. Libdems are finished.
            “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck”
            Therefore…New Labour = ‘New Tories’
            A No vote IS a Tory vote…too simple for you?…sounds like it?

          • Max Bennie

            Here’s an idea: VOTE AGAINST THEM THEN. We vote as one country.

          • Henry Hooper

            Gosh Max, thats a very bad and unoriginal idea….Scotland IS a country.
            You must be one of those “One Nation” British Nationalist quacks.
            Britsh Nationalism Good. Scottish Nationalism Bad???
            British Nationalists/ Nationalism: Orange Order, UKIP, BNP, Tories, anti-immigrant, anti-EU, milataristic triumphalism, WW1 celebrations in 2014, “empire”, “punching above our weight”…if you don’t mind Max..I’ll miss that one out thanks..I’d like to be part of the real world..not some fabricated contruct that is the UK.

          • Max Bennie

            God, no. I don’t believe in nationalism, full stop.

          • Henry Hooper
  • What the UK would need to survive is symmetrical devolution, i.e., the devolution of the same powers to all the constituent parts. This is why devolving power to the English regions won’t work: Nobody wants to give a region such as North-East England the powers that Scotland has (amongst other things, a separate legal system, a distinct education system, control over agriculture and fisheries, tax-varying powers, etc).

    If there’s no political will to create an English Parliament, the UK will fall apart eventually, whether Scotland votes Yes or No next year.

    Personally I’ve given up waiting for a constitutional reform that’ll never happen, and I’ll be voting Yes to Scottish independence next year.

  • Toomtabard

    The political union is dead. It died ths second the English voted for Thatcher. It’s about time we all buried it an moved on in a productive fashion. I will certainly be voting yes next year, as will alomst all my extended family, and most of my friends. The few ‘no’ folk i know are soft ‘nos’, either scared to vote yes or just voting with heart not head. I think the referendum result should and will be a yes. It will benefit both sides in the medium to long term, and Scotland will be better off as a tory free zone on day 1.

    • Jambo25

      I think it was earlier than that. I’d trace it back to Heath. That was the point when the Tories decided they were a southern English middle class party rather than traditional ‘One Nation Tories’. From that point on ‘normal’ politics, in Scotland was dead with one of the 2 great UK parties being seen as un-Scottish or actively anti-Scottish. It took about 25 years or so and Thatcher for the Tory collapse to be fully visible but it started under Heath. The man and his colleagues were viscerally hated by many people in Scotland. I remember sitting in a school staff room when the Tories got a bit of a hammering, in Scotland, in October, 1974. All the staff present cheered as each Tory candidate went down the tube. They cheered Labour and SNP candidates; anybody who could beat a Tory.

  • wally

    Shouldn’t have screwed over the Jews then….

  • dalai guevara

    Curious, the political elite is preparing us for Federalism and Schengen. This is an amazing turn of events.

  • Alf

    Scotland is has Two Parliaments looking after it at England’s Expense, time for England’s Independence. The British Gov no longer serves any purpose.

  • IndependentEngland

    The author asserts that we English have been remarkably unbothered by the West Lothian Question or to be more accurate the English Question. That is just not true. The English are very bothered. That’s why more English voters want a YES vote in 2014 than do Scottish voters and polls show that around 70% of English voters want an English Parliament. The Tories got a majority of English seats at the last general election and in their manifesto promised to introduce English Votes on English Laws. Clearly they have reneged on this. They will pay in 2015 when they lose votes to UKIP!

  • Chic Macgregor

    There is another underlying danger and that is the over estimated importance of the ‘Opinion Polls’ of which some are commissioned and even carried out by Unionist organisations. Clearly the lessons of 2011 have not been learned and the British Unionist Media and the British Unionist Establishments continue to rely heavily on the apparent leads in those polls. The Scottish Nationalists were allegedly 15% behind in the polls only days before the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary Elections and the actual result was a massive lead for the Nationalist Government. The other crucial mistake the Unionists are making is limiting this debate to a Nationalist verses Unionist confrontation.

    The remarkable thing about the ‘Pro-Independence’ Campaign is its universal appeal to all sections of Scottish society and its impressive grassroots support. This is obvious when browsing through the countless Pro-Independence Forums on Social Networking sites such as Facebook and on Twitter. Of course there are those Unionists who readily dismiss the substantial success of those forums in contrast to the few dull heavily censored forums of the Unionists. However, the fact remains that it is those forums where the real debate is taking place and the architects of those Unionist Propaganda Factories are being forced to go on to the Pro-Independence forums in order to have their say. That is because the administrators have been so ruthless in deleting any Pro-Independence comments all that remains is a boring group of back slappers who have high fived each other to death.

    What the ‘British’ Government and the Unionists have failed to address is the growing and wide spread support for independence from individuals who are not always interested in Alex Salmond or his politics. There has been a growing sense of frustration in Scotland for decades that the politics of Westminster no longer represents the best interests of Scotland or its people. The continued fear mongering tactics of the Unionists have continually backfired yet they persist with this approach unabated. We were warned that Devolution would result in catastrophe and it did not. We were warned that a Scottish Parliament would be a complete waste of time and it has not. We were warned that if the Nationalists ever got into power our entire infrastructure would collapse and it did not. The Scottish Parliament has not only been a huge success but we have now reached a position where it is the only means by which the people of Scotland can voice their concerns about the direction British politics is heading and the fact it is a direction we are overwhelmingly opposed to. Further more, we are now at the stage where a nation that was once considered Fortress Labour now sees the Nationalists as the only hope of saving such jewels in the Labour Movement Crown as the NHS and the Welfare State. As one senior Labour Politician, Charles Grey pointed out when he recently announced his support for independence, “the SNP are now more left than we are”.

    Yet I am inclined to agree with the above article to the extent that a No vote will not be the end of the matter regarding Scottish independence. As was pointed out the Better Together Campaign is based on the promotion of Fear and Doubt. Unionists North and South of the Border are making promises on more powers that they either cannot keep or have no intentions of keeping. Any additional powers to the Scottish Parliament will have to be approved by Westminster which is dominated, mathematically and politically by English MP’s. It is going to be a very difficult task to persuade them to give even more devolved powers to Scotland in light of the nonsense spoken about over subsidising and sacrificing Portsmouth at the expense of the Clyde. Yes there is no doubt the MOD and Westminster are playing a cynical game here trying to hold a gun to the heads of Scottish ship builders and the potential Yes voters whilst at the same time stoking up resentment South of the border. What they are failing to highlight is that there have also been massive job cuts in Scottish shipyards as well and the contracts haven’t yet been awarded. They have only been dangled in front of Scotland with a health warning that voting Yes for independence is likely to cost those contracts and more.

    The reality, as implied in the article, is that Scotland has already made its decision to move in a different direction to the politics prevailing in Westminster and that looks likely to continue. Unionists using every dirty trick in the book to try and thwart that process is only going to delay it. The Pro-Independence supporters, of which I am one, believe passionately that Scotland can and must make its own way in order to prosper. The Unionists are warning of doom and gloom if we do and promising the moon if we don’t. What is going to happen in the event of a No vote when the people who believed those promises demand they be implemented? The likelihood is that they are going to realise that the Pro-Independence Campaigners were right all along and the warnings of betrayal and retribution were correct. The consequences of broken promises and predicted retribution following a No vote will only swell the ranks of the Yes Campaign and the democratic process will insure that Independence is once again on the agenda. Then the ‘Cry Wolf’ factor will render any Unionist Scare Stories as empty and any promises of more power even emptier.

    The very real danger for Unionists North and South of the border is this notion that once they secure a No vote, if they secure a No vote, they can just reverse the process of Devolution and dismantle the Scottish Parliament, taking back what they had so generously given. The problem with that notion is Devolution was not given to the people of Scotland it was voted for by an overwhelming majority of the population. They only way Devolution can be reversed is if that reversal is also put to the people of Scotland and they vote by a majority to reverse it. What was achieved by a ‘Democratic Mandate’ can only be removed by a ‘Democratic Mandate’. Any attempt by the Unionist Establishments to ride rough shod over the Democratic Will of the people of Scotland is going to be ‘fiercely’ resisted and there should be no doubt in the minds of those in that Unionist Establishment about that fact.

    Sadly, the eventual outcome will be an independent Scotland resentful of and resented by its larger neighbour. Although I have no doubt whatsoever that the people of Scotland and those they have elected to govern will prove the doubters and the critics wrong. By doing so they will also reveal to the good people of England and the other remaining parts of the United Kingdom that the allegations of being ‘Subsidy Junkies’ was totally unfounded and untrue. Only then will it dawn on the remaining United Kingdom citizens what there elected politicians already knew. The loss of Scotland as members of that United Kingdom is far more damaging to their own economy as a result of no longer having access to such a giving ‘Cash Cow’.

    • IndependentEngland

      The British establishment did the same in 2004 when they told us that there was a demand for English Elected Regional Assemblies. In th NE England referendum 78% voted against. I cannot understand why Scotland would want to vote anything but YES. A no vote would be a total disaster for Scotland and England.

    • Max Bennie

      I assume you don’t know that, of the two campaign websites, only Better Together allows people to comment on its articles via Facebook plugin. The most Yes Scotland ever did was allow people to flag articles, and now they don’t even allow that.

      Allow me to sum up the actual arguments for each campaign:

      BT: Pooling resources, access to facilities, a big UK family, possibility of more powers, feasible vision, the Yes camp will do anything to win, there are things the nationalists aren’t telling us, etc.

      YS: Unrealistically golden paradise, creating all our own services as if the money required grows on trees, unfeasible vision, “Vote Yes or Westminster will GET you!” and other scare tactics.


        Actually Project Fear’s sites facebook bans pro-Indy people and deletes comments that does not go along with their line. Average comment life expectancy of a Yes voter on Project Fear’s F.B is about 2 hours whilst the admin is down the pub.

        • Max Bennie

          And you can back this up?

          • JAMES MORRISEY

            Ok I shall go there and see if I am still banned from commenting, how’s that?
            What standard of evidence do you require.
            It really is a stupid question since they don’t publish numbers of the people they ban then we have to rely on anecdotal evidence.

  • Peter Thomson

    I have come to this two days late. All I can say is it is based on a fundamental misconception of what is happening in Scotland on a number of key issues:

    1. The Scottish Referendum was demanded by a vote which reflected the considered will of the Scottish people in 2011 by delivering a SNP majority in a system Westminster had fixed to make it impossible at Holyrood

    2. No Scots who are actually aware of what is being said by Better Together believes that a no vote will deliver anything but an emasculation of Holyrood as the comments by the likes of Iain Davidson make clear

    3. Currently the ‘No’ lead has been reduced from 26% to 8% with ten months to go

    4. Economically Scotland does not need the Union, nor does it need the lead weight of over £1.5 trillion of banking debt stuck under the City of London

    5 The Better Together campaign is viewed by an increasing number of Scots as a bad joke. The recent scare attacks have all been easily refuted – Hammond on ship building in Scotland, Teresa May failing to understand Scotland is a different legal country, Ian Davidson seeking to destroy his own constituencies jobs on the Clyde, then there is the major own goal for Labour and Better Together over Grangemouth where their crowing over the disaster for Wee Eck it was going to be has left them looking very daft, as Westminster washed its hands of Grangemouth Pontius Pilate style while the Scottish Government negotiated a deal that kept the plant open and ensured the investment in a new Ethane Plant by Ineos.

    With a Government in Westminster Scotland never for voted and a Labour Party that has lost its way in its rush to ‘get votes’ in the Home Counties, in the short term, just what is the political advantage to Scotland in the status quo, of staying in the Union?

    What part of Scotland is rejecting the ever more right wing and fascist style of Government at Westminster is going over the author’s head? This piece reflects the head in the sand attitude of London Political wonks and politicians which has brought this failed and ineffective Union to this pass.

    • Henry Hooper

      Well said Peter!….bet you feel a lot better getting that off your chest

    • Alexsandr

      the fun starts when the negotiations start on how the current national debt is carved up. I hope Westminster makes sure the Scots take on their fair share. Especially as is was HBOS and RBS, both scottish banks, that went bust to be bailed out.


        Last time I looked Halifax was still in England.

        . Why did the banks only become Scottish when they failed after all the tax revenues were paid to Westminster

        The F.M has already state that the banking crisis was nothing to do with Scotland and we will not be accepting any bank debt
        In return we will not be asking for the last 30 years of oil revenues from Scottish oil fields and we will not as for the 200 billion tax that Scotland has paid above it’s population share over the last 30 years. Or even 306 years of revenues from taxes on the bank’s profits.

        You seem ignorant at how banking works when failure happens.

        By international convention, when banks which operate in more than one country get into these sorts of conditions, the bailout is shared in proportion to the area of activities of those banks. In the case of the RBS…roughly speaking 90% of its operations are in England and 10% are in Scotland.”

        The Federal Reserve stepped in to bail out US operations linked to RBS and HBOS. In Europe the governments of France, Belgium The Netherlands and Luxembourg joined forces to help the Fortis and Dexia Banks operating across their borders.

        George Walker, Professor of International Finance Law at Queen Mary University, London and also Glasgow University, supported this position. So did Andrew Campbell, Professor of international and finance law at Leeds University.

        Professor Walker said it was inconceivable that the Treasury would not have stepped in to save RBS’s English operations, even if Scotland was independent. “This decision was not taken to protect either RBS or HBOS, nor specifically the Scottish markets, but to protect the financial stability of the UK financial system as a whole.” he explained.

        He went on: “Many of those (RBS) subsidiaries operate out of London and only out of London. I don’t think you can, simply, look at it purely on the basis of where, as you point out, the brass plate of the holding company is.

        Professor Campbell said HBOS’s operational head quarters were in Halifax, Yorkshire, so there was even less reason to assume Scots would be responsible for its rescue. But the indisputably Scottish RBS ran up most of its losses in the City of London where it was regulated: “It would be inconceivable that Edinburgh or Scotland as a whole could be held liable for that full bill.”

        The bailout of RBS and HBOS actually cost £66bn in shares and loans. Given that Scottish GDP at the time was £145 billion and our remaining oil reserves, using the American Energy Departments cost calculations, are valued at a trillion pounds, we’d have been well placed to negotiate a good deal on the international money markets – which was how the UK, and other national governments, financed the banking rescue. Indeed given our valuable natural resources, we might have negotiated a better deal. Either way, it would come right in the end. The Office of Budget Responsibility calculate that the Treasury is set to make a profit of £3.4bn on the entire UK bailout, thanks to buying bank shares at the bottom of the market and getting a very attractive rate of return on its loans.

        So an independent Scotland could easily have bailed out our banks, but we would not have had to, according to Professors Hughes Hallett, Cambell and Walker.

        How long would this independent Scotland have been in existence before the financial crisis? Long enough to accumulate the same oil fund as Norway? Long enough to swallow the billions of pounds worth of tax on the profits of RBS and HBOS (for if we are responsible for the bailout it follows that we must surely have been due the taxes on profits?) Long enough to establish an effective banking regulation system of our own, perhaps on the advice of our Nordic neighbours who rescued their own banks in the early 1990s?

        “In the 2011/12 Scottish public accounts, 70% of Scotland’s nominal operating deficit was due to £4.1 billion of interest payments on debt we didn’t need. If Scotland had been an independent country over the last 32 years we would have a cash surplus of around £50 billion even if we assume we would still have had the same expenditure including payments for banking collapse and nuclear weapons etc. If we had invested some of that £50 billion in a sovereign oil fund we would probably now have a much larger fund than Norway’s and our economy could be 25% larger than it is today.

        The very fact that the No Campaign can point at Scotland’s economy and even remotely suggest that an independent Scotland would not have a massive advantage is testament both to a massive misinformation campaign over decades and to generations of economic mismanagement of Scotland’s resources by Westminster. Most culpable of all is Alistair Darling. Not only did Alistair Darling fail to reinvest Scotland’s oil wealth but was also asleep at the wheel during the banking collapse and the various banking scandals under his watch.

        It is clear to all who investigate more deeply to establish the facts, that Scotland paying £64.1 billion of interest on debts taken out by Westminster to pay for its own failures – does not qualify us as better together. A yes vote will release Scotland’s potential and remove the Westminster shackles, if we vote yes then Scotland’s economy will thrive.”

        Data Sources:

        “Net Fiscal Balance: Figures from GERS 2011-12 “”Experimental Historic Fiscal Balance Calculations (Historic GERS – Geog NS)”

        “UK debt interest figures: “”Government borrowing, debt and debt interest payments: historical statistics and forecasts””, (SN/EP/5745), House of Commons Library, 13 March 2013, Dominic Webb and John Bardens”

        P.S If we really wanted to be picky then would be negotiating how big a rebate we should be getting after the last 30 years if not the last 306 years.

      • Peter Thomson

        The figure has already been calculated its £30 billion … you see the big losses were at Halifax because of a highly exposed mortgage book run through the City of London and in the RBOS / Natwest Group’s London operations in the City of London who along with the rest of the City of London’s commercial banks and merchant banks have sucked in £1.75 trillion in UK Taxpayer’s money in bail out and QE and another $2000 billion from the US Fed in bail out and QE of which Barclays (London) attracted the biggest portion of US Fed bail out at $540 billion.

        The final problem is the City of London end of the RBOS / Natwest Group is registered in London, is regulated under English and not Scottish law, English not Scottish Company registration and English, not Scottish, financial regulation. The problem you have is failing to understand what actually is and that the UK contains two separate legal and fiscal systems. Scots Law and fiscal practice has no control over the City of London so the liability could be argued to be England’s in its entirety, it is a sort of fiscal West Lothian Question in reverse, if you will.

        Technically an independent Scotland could take the same line as Australia, New Zealand, Eire and Canada did in 1937 and tell the UK Government and the Bank of England where to stick its debt.

        • Alexsandr

          i dont think the scottish can play hard ball with England. We could look at many investments that have been made in scotland and say, well theri debt is scottish.

          It all depends on how you do the sums.

          For me I would say the last labour governemnt was a scottish one, with Blair (educated at Fetters) Brown and a load of scottish ministers. perhaps we could say their overspend should be given to the scots,

          and we could unwind the Barnet formula so where the scohtish have done better than England in regional spending, well the scots should pay for that.

          The idea that independant scotland could start out largely debt free is just silly.

          • Peter Thomson

            Name a few ‘English’ investment’s in Scotland, meatball. By ‘English’ investments I think you mean UK Government investments, forgetting of course the UK Government is a partnership between the sovereign states of Scotland and England according to the 1707 Union Treaty (the only core legal document which legitimises the UK’s existence), manifest through a joint parliament at Westminster.

            In pure constitutional terms Westminster only has power over Scotland as long as the Scots agree, Westminster’s power over Scotland derives from the considered will of the people of Scotland. Devolution happened because it was the considered will of the people of Scotland to remove powers from Westminster and return them to their own Parliament, rather than being held in trust by the Scottish Grand Committee at Westminster or its successors. This is why the position of Secretary of State for Scotland is basically powerless and diminished since 1999.

            The problem for the new English Parliament is how will it secure its energy requirements on which it leans heavily on Scotland to deliver, then there are food and drink imports England is reliant on. The Bank of England (owned in part by Scotland) will be concerned about Scotland leaving Sterling because of the big impact this would have on Sterling’s foreign exchange balance and the potential run on Sterling this may trigger, let alone the increasing energy, food and drinks costs a free floating pound Scots would cost England (current UK Treasury estimates are the pound Scots linked to, say, the dollar would be worth £1.20p English within two years of independence).

            The question is just what is England’s position of strength in any negotiations with Scotland as all its economy is stuffed into the Square Mile while its industrial and manufacturing base has been run into the ground by UK Government economic policy over the last three decades?

            How will the English Government be able to prop up the City of London with its heavily subsidised infra-structure projects without the tax surplus it currently gains from Scotland coupled with cheap energy and food supplies?

            The only answer is the further impoverishment of and under investment in the English and Welsh regions. The recent NAO figures indicate for each 3.2% of UK Government spend the North East gets, London gets 32.5% – London is the UK Government subsidy junky of the UK, second only to Northern Ireland – according to current NAO figures.

  • Brian Hill

    The problem for the union really began when Salmond changed the name of the Scottish executive to Scottish Government. Everything he and his colleagues have done since then have enlarged the perception of Scotland being Independent already and as we all know – Perception is our individual or in this case our collective reality – i.e.. all reality is perception, there is no absolute reality. Scotland is already Independent, soon it will be official.


      The problem for the union is the union these problems started 306 years ago.
      To say that the Scottish people have only just got their national aspiration from a name change is , well, err ..stupid and insulting.


    The pro-Union parties insinuate Scotland will get more powers even if there is a No vote in next year’s independence referendum but what is the reality?

    Already we’ve had ex-Labour MP Tam Dalyell saying in a newspaper interview

    “When you ask for powers that will inevitably lead to the break-up of the UK tax regime, then you are in a different ball-game altogether. So I think it is, in a sense, fraudulent to give the impression that if there is a No vote Scotland will still get greater powers. The prospect of further powers is ridiculous.

    That’s why I’m completely distanced from the Better Together campaign. I have done nothing for them and am not lending my name to them because I don’t believe that it’s other than fraudulent.”

    There is also ex-Labour Provost of Glasgow Michael Kelly who said in another newspaper interview

    “When Yes loses as it will, it’s supporters should be not be awarded the consolation prize of more powers”
    “Losers lose. The dream consequence of this loss should be the steady erosion of Holyrood’s powers until it can be abolished”

    Former Labour MP Brian Wiilson said in a 2008 interview ” Whether devolution has been good or bad for Scotland is a matter for debate. But a decade on it has indisputably a disaster for the Labour Party”

    When Johann Lamont suggested that Scotland could get a new tax collecting agency replicating the work that HMRC already does, even this was far too much for her bosses the Labour MPs in Westminster who quickly slapped that idea down.

    Also any proposal for for powers would have to be put into the Britnat parties manifestos and put to the English electorate for their approval.
    Since the English electorate is ten times the size of Scotland’s the Britnat parties will pander to the English vote and since the English think that we are a country of neer-do-wells leaching off the back of the English taxpayer then the Britnat parties are not going to put in their manifestos anything more than cosmetic extra powers if they put in anything at all.

    From the Britnats point of view why should they give Holyrood more powers after a no vote, its not as if the Scots Govt will have any leverage to demand them.

    The other factor is that the Britnat parties want to crush the SNP’s ability to form another Govt at Holyrood which was the reasoning behind Cameron not wanting the third option on the ballot paper.
    By giving the “consolation prize of more powers” the SNP could still claim that they have brought more democracy home to Scotland. This would be too much for the Britnats to stomach.

    Anyone who seriously believes that the same people who are responsible for creating an organisation that calls itself Project Fear in order to scare people into voting no by using stories that are at best economical with the truth is going to deliver more powers after a no vote is seriously deluding themselves.

    Will they deliver more powers after the Scots people surrender their arms?

    History tells us no.

    The only way to ensure more powers to the Scots people is for the Scots people to vote Yes to full powers of Independence

    • Max Bennie

      History is always being written…


    “We English, who are a marvellous people, are really very generous to Scotland.”
    Margaret Thatcher 1990

    Just thought I would put that in just in case any English people are still confused as to why we would wish to become Independent by dissolving the UK

    • William Haworth

      Twenty-three years on and the hatred is still there. What about today’s issues?

  • David Birse

    ‘Westminster has been gripped by talk of a referendum this week. But the excitement hasn’t been about the vote in ten months’ time that will decide whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom [GOVERNMENT], but about the possibility of an EU referendum in four years’ time. South of Hadrian’s Wall, Scotland’s vote on independence is fast in danger of becoming the forgotten referendum.’

    Whereas I don’t think it is deliberately meant here, the use of the UK without the added word government is a ploy used by Unionists to frighten Scots Royalists and sympathisers, where their propaganda aim is that not only are we going to be independent, but that we are going to lose the Queen as Head of State also. This is not the case. After independence, should Scots require that the Queen be removed as Head of State it will require another referendum to see what people say. Scotland is voting for an independent government at Holyrood, Edinburgh and looking to disengage from the British Government or UK Government, whatever you want to call it.

    Hopefully the Scottish people return a YES verdict on the 18th of September, 2014. It is likely that negotiations will take place where the United Kingdom crown union (not government) will become the United Kingdoms. There is a Scottish crown and an English crown. If the crown union is going to work in the future Scotland needs a coronation also, in a place of its choosing.

    Although I am a Scottish nationalist myself, I understand the importance of political opposition. I am not an SNP member although I admire what they have done so far in Scottish government, especially with the lack of powers that Holyrood currently has. Only with an independent Scotland can we change Scotland to reflect a more socialist Scotland that Scots identify with. For instance an NHS that is not privatised, a replacement for the council tax that is fairer and the economics behind it are updated more than every twenty years, a tax system that is both national (for defence, foreign policy, education, nhs etc) and a council tax where those of working age force local authority councils to adopt more pro-business strategies and work for the people they are supposed to represent. Do away with Working Tax Credit in Scotland and apply the Living Wage to all over 18. I was shocked to learn recently that people on the minimum wage and under the age of 25 cannot apply for Working Tax Credit. Are their kids less worthy and undeserving than the Over-25s? Secondly, I’d envisage millions will be saved on the red tape, pay and bureaucracy of civil servants by doing away with Working Tax Credit. Thirdly, there are people out there who should be claiming this money but see it as either charity, or too complicated to fill out the forms and wait six weeks between the initial phonecall and setting up the Working Tax Credit payments. Adopting the living wage will make a fairer, more just Scotland where people have more disposable income and there will be an incentive to work.

    These arguments and debates are going on in Scotland right now. Some of the last paragraph are my own ideas and some have been suggested from the Reid Foundation, an excellent think-tank in Scotland. What is going to be interesting over the next year is whether the Labour Party in Scotland are going to stay within their mantra of Project Fear, or whether they are going to offer real opposition to the Scottish National Party. If they do not do so I think that the Scottish Labour Party are going to melt away and the void of opposition is going to have to be filled by someone else. Who that is – I really don’t have a clue!

    • ButcombeMan

      The crass idea of the Working Tax Credit was foisted on everywhere in the UK by the worst Chancellor and Prime Minister in living memory.

      Step forward Gordon Brown.

    • Derick Tulloch

      One of the most exciting things about Independence is the opportunity to design a sensible tax and welfare system. It wouldn’t be hard to better the dog’s breakfast that is the UK system. Why does the UK have two sorts of Income tax (IT and NI) each with separate rules and expensive collection systems? Laughable. Where is that state pension fund? Other nations manage to create them. Why does the long suffering motorist pay Fuel Duty, VAT on the fuel, VAT on the fuel duty for Godsake!, and Road Tax. The latter could go and the revenue come from the fuel. The UK system subsidizes high rents via Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance, and creates an instant poverty trap. Any poor sod on benefit and trying to come off and you know, work and that, faces a marginal tax rate of at least 95%. Nonsense! Yes in 2014 for a sensible tax system!

    • William Haworth

      Your argument implies that having the Queen as Head of State means you’re in the United Kingdom; explain that to the Canadians or Australians. Vote yes next year and Scotland will not be part of the United Kingdom. In that circumstance, I seriously doubt that the English will tolerate the Welsh or Norn Irish for much longer, either.

  • allymax bruce

    James, piss-poor article; poor argument, bias perspective, and crap structure; no-wonder you get a lackies-shilling for your anti-Scottish MSM journoism; it’s crap!
    So, basically your argument is pressing fear, smear, & sneer tactics at Scotland’s Independence White paper; how very snide & sleekit of you, & your argument! Scaremongering a debate, with nothing but fear, and Westminster promises of devolution, when what Scotland needs is Independence, is the same argument as Whitehall’s anti-Scottish reply to Scotland. I’ve no wonder why you’ve seen Whitehall’s strategic fear, smear, & sneer response to Scotland Independence White Paper, coz yoos iz a biased meeja prole for an outdated, Class-separation, Elite-favouring, oppressive, Westminster. Like I said, James, a pathetic piss-poor polemic-penchant, from a pathetic piss-poor political journo.


    Ask the english,and scotland will be booted out of the union with zest.We want no more self pitty,and braveheart rubbish from the scotts.Border guards and no pound for them.Lt them live off whisky sales.And porrige in cold water,whilse enjoy our own taxes,not being showered on kilt wearing misseries.

    • John Smith

      Typical narrow minded bigot who can’t tell his arse from his elbow. Thank god you and your kind will soon be gone.

  • Stamford Raffles

    The British doomsters are wrong. There is a lot of life in the old LIon. It only needs intelligent promotion.

  • Stamford Raffles

    This article begins with a negative premise and continues in the same vein. The British doomsters are wrong as they always have been. There is a lot of life in the old Lion. It just needs better promotion.