C’mon get aff

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso repeated the Glesga clippie objection to Scottish membership of the EU – c’mon get aff the bus and get tae the end o the queue.

Funny how it’s only the negative stuff that gets blanket coverage on the telly news isn’t it? Here we go again, a new day and a new scare story, or more precisely an old scare story reheated.  This one has been reheated so often that it’s little more than a toxic mass of bacteria which is unfit for human consumption, but that doesn’t stop the BBC presenting it as a tasty little delicacy.  They think if they coat lies in lard and deep fry them, Scottish people will consume them eagerly.

Barroso is a member of the European Popular Party  He belongs to the same centre-right cabal as the Spanish Partido Popular, and the UK Tories (before they went off in a collective huff and left the European Popular Party to join up in the EU parliament with far-right Latvian holocaust deniers).  The Spanish PP has spent considerable time and effort persuading fellow members of the European Popular Party to adopt its line that states which become independent from existing EU members must leave the EU and reapply for membership.  Reliant upon the support of European Popular Party members of the EU Parliament, Barroso wasn’t going to upset Partido Popular’s applecart.

Barroso is a Portuguese version of David Cameron or Mariano Rajoy.  Formerly the Prime Minister of Portugal, Barroso introduced a unpopular programme of austerity cuts and wage freezes which did not go down well in Lisbon.  He enthusiastically supported Bush and Blair in their illegal invasion of Iraq despite massive protests, and amidst mounting domestic pressure announced his resignation so he could go off and become EC President.  His pals in the European Popular Party gave him a convenient excuse to run away to Brussels, and Portugal breathed a collective sigh of relief.

As the most prominent member of the European Popular Party, its successful candidate for the election to the EC Presidency, naturally Barroso will repeat the party line.  He is after all a political appointee.  But what he is saying is political manoeuvering , it’s not EU law or EU policy and has been rubbished on several previous occasions by real experts in EU law and EU enlargement, like Professor Graham Avery – most recently just a couple of weeks ago.

The extreme, and unrealistic, nature of Barroso’s position was illustrated in the example he chose as a comparison with Scotland.  Barroso noted that Kosovo’s application to join the EU was being blocked, saying:

“We have seen that Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo, for instance, so it’s to some extent a similar case because it’s a new country and so I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, a new member state coming out of one of our countries getting the agreement of the other [existing member states].”

What he didn’t say was why Spain refuses to recognise Kosovo, and blocks its application for EU membership.  It’s because Kosovo declared independence unilaterally from Belgrade, despite the fact that the Serbian constitution forbids the independence of any part of Serbian territory.  This objection does not apply to Scotland, as the Spanish Government has stated on numerous occasions.  Just as it has insisted frequently that the cases of Scotland and Catalonia (or Kosovo) cannot be compared.  Spain sees no parallel between Scotland and Kosovo, but Barroso wants Scottish people to think they do.

But despite the fact that José Manuel Barroso is fully aware of the reasons why Spain objects to Kosovan independence, is fully aware that the Spanish Foreign Minister has stated that this objection does not apply to Scotland, is fully aware that the Spanish Government has said there is no comparison between countries like Scotland which have a constitutional right to independence and countries like Catalonia or Kosovo which don’t, and is fully aware that the Spanish Prime Minister consistently dodges the question of whether Spain will veto Scotland, it didn’t seem to stop him implying the contrary on the BBC.

He was not challenged on his remarks by Andrew Marr, who really ought to do better research or give up any pretence that the BBC is unbiased.  It was a complete misrepresentation of Spain’s position, and a blatant piece of political interference in the affairs of Scotland.

In its gleeful coverage of the interview, which naturally didn’t mention anything that the Spanish government itself has actually said as this would contradict Barroso, the Guardian – the newsletter of the Islington Labour branch of Better Together – reported:

“The statement will be seen as a blow to the hopes of the Scottish Nationalists who claim the country would join the EU in the event of a yes vote in September’s referendum.”

No it won’t Guardian.  It will be seen as yet another scaremongering intervention from one of David Cameron’s right wing pals.  It will be seen as another example of how bullying, threats and intimidation are our political masters’ stock in trade.  Scotland has seen a lot of that recently, and it’s why we’re increasingly of the opinion that we are not Better Together with sic a parcel o rogues.

Ed Balls signs Labour’s suicide note

This week the UK Labour party in Scotland signed their suicide note.  It was for the best, the party has been dead from the neck up for decades, and the body is atrophied and weak.  All that is left is for it to be buried.  If we plant an independent tree on the grave it can take the nourishment left in the rotten carcass, and grow into something vibrant and fresh.  That’s the only thing that Labour in Scotland is fit for now.

The events of the past few days have stripped away any pretence that the party leadership has the slightest concern for the best interests of people in Scotland.  For the Labour hierarchy, the sole imperative is winning UK General Elections.  That’s all the party exists for, that’s all it does.  It has no real idea of what it will do when it gains power, gaining power is the means and the end.  The Labour hierarchy is as imperious as the Tories when it comes to the absolute power of the Westminster Parliament.

Tony Blair, Jack Straw, John Prescott.  Nuff said.  All have offspring who have been selected as Labour Parliamentary candidates or who hope to be.  Euan Blair, Will Straw, and David Prescott hope to repeat the ploy previously played by the Sarwar and Martin clans in Glasgow.  In the English town of Corby, local Labour MP Andy Sawford also inherited his seat from his dad.  Ed and David Miliband owe their preferment within Labour to their late father’s party connections, as do Wee Dougie and Wendy Alexander.  Labour’s local government spokesman, Hilary Benn MP, is the son of Tony Benn, and Tony’s granddaughter Emily is set to become a Labour councillor. Jack Dromey’s selection as a Labour MP was not unrelated to the fact that his wife is Harriet Harman, he was also considerably aided by his extensive links to the trades unions.  And it was recently reported that Jack and Harriet’s son Joe is very interested in seeking selection as a Labour candidate.  What’s the betting he’s got a better chance of making it than a random Labour activist from Motherwell?

The next generation of Labour politicians will be the same as the last.  Labour is as dynastic as North Korea.  The key to advancement in the party is family and social connections, not politics or policies – a strategy which blew up in Labour’s face in Falkirk.  But as the wreckage fell around the workers at Grangemouth the party leadership was nowhere to be seen.  Like the Catholic hierarchy when faced with child abuse scandals, the priority of Labour’s leadership was to protect its own reputation and standing.

It’s clear now that when you vote Labour, you’re voting for someone else’s interests.  You’re voting so that a self-selecting political elite can continue to rule us like lairds, collecting our votes in lieu of rent.  And if the party perceives anything that might stand between the leadership and their career plans, it will be evicted as ruthlessly as a crofter in the Clearances.

This week the party reached a nadir not seen since George Cunningham’s shameless betrayal of democracy in 1979, when on the eve of the Home Rule referendum the Scottish born Labour MP for Islington introduced a measure ensuring that the votes of the dead counted as no.  Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls stood shoulder to shoulder with George Osborne and Danny Alexander to threaten and bully Scotland and demand that even after independence Scotland must bend its knee and submit to Westminster’s will.

Labour is as complicit as the Tories in the theft of Scottish assets.  Theft is the accurate term for it.  Labour, the Tories, and the Lib Dems have come together to assert that the Bank of England will not be shared with Scotland.  It’s a state owned institution with assets totalling £402.8 billion, but Scotland will get no part of it.

A large part of the assets owned by the Bank of England consists of debt owed to the bank by the UK Government.  Much of this money was created out of thin air as a part of Quantatitive Easing, which the BoE spent on buying up UK Government bonds.  The UK Government pays the interest on these bonds to the Bank of England, which in turn repays it to the UK Treasury.   Scotland issued this debt along with the rest of the UK, but Westminster wants Scotland to repay it to them alone.

Labour, along with the Tories and the Lib Dems, want Scotland to take on its share of this debt but without conceding that Scotland is also an issuer of it, so that the debt repayments will continue to flow into the coffers of the UK Treasury and Scotland won’t see a penny.  We’re just a colony which must do as it’s told.  So much for the world’s most successful partnership of nations.

Westminster in its arrogance believes that Scotland must continue to subsidise the UK Treasury even after independence, while they deprive Scotland of assets that are rightfully ours.  Above all they want to deprive Scotland of the very assets that would reduce the debt burden on a newly independent state.  That’s why the Scottish Government is hinting that it may refuse to accept a share of Westminster’s debt, and they are perfectly justified in doing so.

The reason for all this is obvious.  Scottish independence will expose just how much cash flowed from Scotland to the Thames, it’s a greater figure than even official figures suggest.  The UK parties have spent the last 3 decades persuading voters in the rest of the UK that Scots are subsidy junkies.  When the truth comes out the electorate of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be furious that they have been lied to for years.

Labour voters in Scotland were infuriated this week when Ed Balls sang from the same songsheet as George Osborne.  The threats and bullying were identical.  Vote Labour, vote team Tory.

As a full time carer who has to remain at home most of the time, I’m scarcely in any position to gauge public reaction.  But the other evening my brother and sister in law called to ask me what Osborne and Balls really meant.  They were convinced it was just more scaremongering, and wanted their opinion confirmed.  They were angry with the Tories, the default position for the average Glaswegian, but most of their ire was directed at the Labour party they’ve always voted for.  I’d always had them down as leaning towards a no vote, but that’s changed now.

And it was the same story with two other acquaintances.  Unprompted, both spoke to me about their disgust and anger that Westminster politicians were shamelessly bullying and threatening Scotland.  They don’t understand the details of quantatitive easing – neither do I – but they know enough to see that we’re being ripped off.  It’s like a mugger telling you you ought to be grateful that he’s taking your purse.  Both were previously don’t knows, both are now inclined heavily to yes.

A few wee straws in the wind, but the same story is repeating itself in homes across Scotland.  We have seen that the UK parties are incapable of coming together to offer us the increased devolution most of us wanted before the referendum campaign started, but that they’ll come together at the drop of a credit note in order to steal from us.  They have revealed themselves to us in all their avaricious and mendacious glory as the penny drops that this referendum will not be the shoe-in for the Union that they had expected.  The panic has scarcely started.

Judging from the response so far, all they’ve done is to alienate Scotland even further.  Labour signed its death warrant this week.  They signed the death warrant for the UK too.

The Fat Man of Fear Bombs

According to the Herald, a “senior figure” in the Coalition UK government has said that even if Scotland delivers a yes vote in September’s referendum, this does not necessarily mean that Scotland will become independent.   Described as a “senior colleague” of David Cameron, the anonymous source said that Westminster would refuse to grant Scotland independence if we refuse to roll over and let them kick us in the nads.  Westminster’s idea of negotiation is for Scotland to agree to each and every demand they make of us.  Demands like “We’ll tell you how much debt you’ll take on and what assets, if any, we let you get.  And you’d better be grateful.”

Yes, he really did say that.  If “independence talks “do not go smoothly” from the point of view of Westminster, “the status quo would be maintained”.  Conversations like these between anonymous sources and journalists are conducted in a form of code.  What was really meant was the following:

“The Edinburgh Agreement was just a ploy to get Alex Salmond to shut up,” said the unknown ToryDem, “we never meant for anyone to take it seriously.  We never took the referendum seriously.  We’ve never taken Scotland seriously.  To be honest we thought that we’d get a massive majority for the Union without breaking into a sweat and the whole Scottish question would just go away.

“Now it looks like the Scottish question won’t just go away, the rest of Scotland will go with it. We haven’t just broken into a sweat, we’re shitting bricks.

“Some people think that the Tories would benefit from losing Scotland.  But if Cameron loses Scotland he’d face a vote of confidence in the Commons, especially after it comes out just how bad the accounts are without our Caledonian top up.   And we’ve spent the past couple of decades telling voters in England that we subsidise Scotland – they’ll be expecting tax cuts if Scotland leaves.

“Cameron will lose the vote of confidence.  There would be an early election, and we’d all be annihilated.  Dave’s fucked.  George is fucked in a way he doesn’t enjoy.  Danny Alexander’s totally fucked.  Michael Gove will be fucked and foreign. We’re all fucked.  We didn’t plan for this.  So we’re pressing the nuclear fearbomb button.

“We’ve changed our minds.  Screw independence negotiations.  There won’t be an electoral backlash in England over it, and who gives a shit what the Scots think.  We’ve always told you what you’re going to do, and voting yes won’t change anything.  We’re the sovereign Parliament and we won’t give you independence unless you do what we tell you.   The Union is the default position.

“Mind you we also said that voting no was the default position, so perhaps that’s not such a great example… ”

The signs are the nuclear fearbomb is a bit of a dud.  It went off with the explosive force of a pettit lip.  So far, amongst other belters, Scotland has been threatened with having our airports bombed, our power stations destroyed by terrorists, and the forcible annexation of Faslane, all of which are exciting and dramatic scare stories which could very well involve James Bond, fireworks, explosions, and even a secret underground lair.  And they’d already be in 3 D so we wouldn’t have to pay extra for the special glasses.  This is how we judge a good scare story in Scotland these days.

So when Georgie boy came to Embra promising a nuclear scarebomb, we ought to have got something really spectacular.  But unfortunately George has not been paying attention to the development of the BetterTogether franchise, so what we got was:  “We won’t let the Bank of England be your lender of last resort, even if it means hacking off my own limbs.”

It’s a scare of two halves, but it scores null points for dramatic impact.  We’d only care about George’s self-harming if we cared about George.  They’re your limbs George, hack away.

What it means is that an independent Scotland wouldn’t have the Bank of England to bail out our financial sector, so Scotland will have to introduce strict regulation to stop Scottish banks indulging in the wilder excesses of casino capitalism and make sure they behave responsibly.   Wow George, that’s such a scary threat.  I’ll be sure to vote no now.  Imagine those poor bank executives we’ll be disappointing.

That would be the consequences for Scotland, and naturally we’d be debt free since we’d be deprived of our assets, like our share of the assets of the Bank of England which include over a quarter of the UK’s national debt.  We’d have no credit rating, but we’re a peaceful democratic country in a quiet and stable part of the globe, with a highly developed economy and a shitload of natural and human resources.  We would still find lenders and investors.

That’s what’s really got George worried.  For all his talk of Scotland “reneging” or “defaulting”, he knows that we’d be perfectly within our rights to refuse to accept the debt if we are deprived of our due share of the assets.  And for all their bluster over Scotland’s powerlessness and lack of friends in the world, Westminster knows that Scotland would insist the matter was put to international arbitration.  How confident are they they’d win their case?  Not very, judging by the loudness of the squealing.

Today’s revelation in the Herald is part 2 of George’s nuclear fearbombing campaign.  He really really means it, because the stuff about the debt has the Treasury well spooked.  So George came to Edinburgh and dropped Little Boy, now some anonymous briefer has dropped Fat Man via the Herald.

It will land with all the explosive impact of Eric Pickles falling into a muddy puddle in Somerset.

If you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one

Better Together, they’re like a lonely hearts advert saying “Stalker seeks someone to love.  Don’t bother with a pic, I’ll take one through your bedroom window while wearing a Maggie Thatcher fright mask.”  They’ve really not got the hang of this love bombing business have they.

Today we had George Osborne saying he would be “unable to recommend” a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.  Like Scottish people care deeply about what Osborne recommends.  And there was us thinking that he was going to rule it out definitely.  Still, if Mark Carney’s studiedly neutral speech was presented by the media as a major blow to independence hopes, it’s easy to understand why our media sooked up George’s words like viagra for the wilting Better Together campaign.  They’re treating us like idiots again.

It was another of the UK cabinet’s hit and run exercises – paid for out of your tax bill.  Osborne came up to Edinburgh and ran away back to London after taking a few questions from the tame media pack.  He had no intention of debating the issues with anyone who might challenge his waffle.  What the Chancellor of the Exchequer said was economically illiterate, intellectually risible, and morally bankrupt. Will this be pointed out by the economic experts trotted out by the BBC?  Don’t go holding your breath.

Never mind Project Fear, the guy in charge of the UK economy doesn’t understand some of the most basic principles of finances and economics.  The kind of principles that the rest of us understand every time we buy anything with a credit card.  Now that’s really scary.  It’s either that or he’s lying through his teeth, which is equally unsettling.  But what’s scariest of all is that it’s equally plausible that Osborne is ignorant or a liar – or indeed both simultaneously.  My pounds sterling are on the latter.

George made the jawdropping claim that if Scotland refused to accept a part of the UK national debt because Westminster refuses to let us use the pound, we would be in default and would be castigated by the international markets.  This is sheer nonsense.  It is a lie of epic proportions, a big lie constructed out of wee lies and wrapped up in a multicoloured tissue of untruth.

You cannot default on a debt which doesn’t have your name on it.  The debt was issued by the UK government, it bears the name of the UK government, and the UK government has already stated that it alone is responsible for all existing UK debt.  So how can Scotland default?  The debt isn’t in our name.  In no legal system can you be held accountable for a debt which belongs to someone else.

There is precedent for this.  When the Soviet Union broke up, all its national debt was inherited by Russia.  The other former Soviet republics did not take on one rouble of the USSR’s debts.  They were not considered financial pariahs because of it.  George’s threat that Scotland would be a pariah is baseless.  The only pariahs in Scotland are Tory MPs.

In fact Scotland is prepared to accept a proportional share of the UK national debt – even though we are under no legal obligation to do so – but only in return for a due share of UK assets.  The proposition put forward by the Scottish Government is that if the UK Government deprives Scotland of her rightful assets, Scotland will not accept any debt relating to assets which Westminster retains in full.  Nae assets, nae debt.  It should be simple enough even for George to grasp.

In order to make the claim that Scotland would be defaulting on its debt, George sought to deny that sterling is a joint asset.  If sterling isn’t an asset then Scotland cannot justifiably claim a share in it.  George dismissed Scotland’s claim to joint ownership of the pound, saying it wasn’t a CD collection.  Which is true.  Stick a tenner in your CD player and it won’t play anything by the Better Together Toryboyband.  A currency is not a thing, it’s an abstract concept.

Continuing with the CD collection metaphor, Osborne wants us to believe that the debt the UK accrued building up its collection of the greatest hits of the Royal Artillery Marching band and its expertise in bunting bedecked musical interludes will be Scottish debt after independence, even though George is hanging on to all the CDs, the sheet music and the stage directions.  We walk away from ownership of the Philip Sousa band, he told us, but oddly he doesn’t want us to walk away from the costs involved in acquiring it, training it, and developing it.  In George’s wee world, Scotland should still be financially liable for the UK even after we’ve become independent.  This is such an arrant nonsense that it really shouldn’t need to be pointed out.

For George, ownership apparently only extends to physical objects.  A man who worships filthy lucre, who comprehends worth only in monetary terms, and he’s unaware of the concept of intellectual property.  Sterling has a reputation in the international money markets, it’s a reputation based in part upon the massive contribution Scotland has made to the Union – you know all that oil, whisky, industrial exports, and the rest.  Sterling is like the goodwill and reputation built up by an existing business, which influences its value when the owners decide to sell.  The UK’s reputation for financial stability, the reputation George wants to protect, only exists because Scotland contributed to building it up.  That reputation is as much ours as it is the rUK’s.

However if we were to accept George’s view that sterling is not an asset – then by definition it cannot possess any worth or value.  Perhaps he views sterling like a much loved and battered teddy bear or a used rubber bondage outfit.  No one else wants them, but George really loves them.  Which in turn raises the question of why he’s so keen to maintain sole possession of something which is worth nothing commercially.

And all this over a non-issue.  Because Scotland doesn’t require Westminster’s agreement to use the pound, as has been pointed out by organisations like the Adam Smith Institute, no friends of Scottish indy.  It’s worth repeating their comments in full.

Sam Bowman, director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“An independent Scotland would not need England’s permission to continue using the pound sterling, and in fact would be better off using the pound without such permission.

“There is very little that an English government would actually be able to do to stop Scottish people from continuing to use the pound sterling if they wanted to.

“As the American economist George Selgin has pointed out, what the Prime Minster really means is that the Bank of England would not act as a guarantor for Scottish banks or the Scottish government.  Lucky Scotland: the implied promise of a bailout from the European Central Bank is exactly what allowed Eurozone banks and governments to borrow cheaply and get themselves into a debt crisis.

“Scotland’s position would be closer to that of countries like Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador, which use the US Dollar without American “permission”, and, according to research by the Federal Reserve of Atlanta, consequentially have far more prudent and stable financial systems than if they were part of a formal currency union.

“An independent Scotland that used the pound as its base currency without the English government’s permission, with banks continuing to issue notes privately and private citizens free to choose any currency they wanted, would probably have a more stable financial system and economy than England itself.

“It’s up to Scots to decide whether they want independence, but the Chancellor’s announcement today should be seen as a feature, not a bug.”

Whatever way you look at Better Together’s arguments, they mire you in confusion and contradiction. So no change there then.  Just more lies, more threats, and more fear.   And this shower of miserablist selfish self-servers want us to think that we’re Better Together with them.   They’re not painting a very attractive picture of themselves are they.

Where did the love go?

To the list of things that are wrong with Better Together, we can now add premature ejaculation.  There we were, lying back and thinking of Scotland and expecting a love bomb, it lasted 2 minutes and the only person who spurted was Dave.  And the bastard never called.  It’s back to the scares and the threats.

It’s the currency again.  They’re going to keep on at this one, because they reckon it gives them some traction.  Sharing the pound is the only thing that Scotland is asking Westminster for after a yes vote, so Westminster wants to do its utmost to make out we won’t get it.

Better Together operates on the unspoken assumption that many Scots traditionally had about our country, it’s a relic of the cringe.  This is the belief that Scotland is weak and powerless and holds no cards of its own.  But that is very far from the truth.  The truth is that there is far more that Westminster wants from Scotland than Scotland wants from Westminster.  Better Together knows this too, which is why they’re doing all they can to scare us.

Think about it logically.  Let us suppose that Scotland has nothing that Westminster wants or needs.  If that were the case, then the scare stories and hysteria being whipped up by Unionist politicians and their media hangers-on can only be motivated by a deep, selfless, and charitable concern for the well being of Scotland.  They know us better than we know ourselves, and have only our best interests at heart.  Stop laughing at the back there.

OK, having a low opinion of the altruism of Westminster is highly subjective, even if true and based upon many years of witnessing and suffering what passes for their altruism.  However we need to be logical here and remove all personal feelings from the equation.  This involves imagining that you are in a universe where George Osborne really does put Scotland’s interests in his wee box of precious things – alongside his signed photie of Maggie Thatcher, his bank details and his gimp mask – so mind bending drugs may help.

Right, so Scotland is poor, weak, and helpless, kept afloat solely by the good graces and financial acumen of the UK Treasury, steered through the choppy waters of the big scary world by captains who love us and cherish us and let us on the boat for free.   See, sometimes drugs do work.

We’re a charity case with nothing to offer.  But this is the condition Scotland is in after being governed by Westminster for over 300 years.   The Union has left us as damaged goods, a basket case reduced to pleading for free passage.  And that’s despite the industry we no longer have and those we still do, like the oil and renewables and the whisky and all the rest.  It happened even though we have a highly educated and skilled population who inhabit a country with an embarrassing excess of natural resources.

Someone must have mismanaged those resources terribly.  Who could that have been then?  Oh…  And we’re supposed to be Better Together with these people?

If you accept the premise of Better Together’s case, it doesn’t take long before you find yourself mired in logical contortions and confusion.  There’s more logic in a Tennessee school textbook that says we can’t be descended from the apes because Ian Davidson is still around.

So let’s be logical.  An independent Scotland wants only one thing from Westminster – for them to stop being dickheads about a currency that’s as much ours as it is theirs.  The reason we hear so much about the currency is because it’s the only card they have, so they want us to think that it’s a high value card.

What do they want from us?  Scotland has far more going for it than Westminster or Better Together want us to believe.  We have some very strong cards indeed.

There’s Trident, Westminster needs a new base for it and they can’t just stick it in a multistorey carpark in Reading for the time being.  They need us to be obliging about Faslane and Coulport until they can sort out an alternative.  Or they could just abandon it and leave Scotland with the clean up and disposal costs.  Which we could afford, since according to the time honoured legal principle of quisquilliae defutatae tuae sunt, eas purgabis tu* we’d simply deduct the money from the amount of debt Westminster expects us to take on.  Whatever way you look at it, we’ve got them by the ballistics.

And talking of that massive national debt that they want us to take a share of.  That will be the national debt that Westminster has already conceded that it and it alone, will be responsible for after Scottish independence.  £1.4 trillion of it.  That’s a lot of maxed out credit cards.  Scotland could, if it wanted, walk away debt free.  Sure, our international credit rating would be low for a couple of years, but since we’d be starting off with zero debt and an ocean’s worth of assets we’d manage just fine.  More than fine.   We’ll only take on debt in proportion to the assets we’re due.  Nae assets, nae debt.  The pound is a shared asset too.  Apparently it’s one that Westminster values very highly, which must mean not getting our share in it must be worth oodles of debt we won’t be taking on.

There’s the status of the rUK as the sole successor state to the UK.  There is a very strong legal case that Scotland could make in international courts that the rUK was not in fact the sole successor state.  There is no guarantee that the rUK would win the argument, not all nations love Westminster the way that we’re supposed to love David Cameron and Alistair Darling.  Westminster requires Scotland not to object to its claim to sole successor state status.

And neither last nor least there’s Scotland’s substantial contribution to the UK’s balance of payments.  Without Scotland, the UK’s deficit would double and they lose one third of their international exports.  Business for Scotland has detailed the figures for those of you who can cope with figures.  The bottom line is just that.  If Scotland didn’t use the pound the arse would fall out of it, because it would no longer be backed up by Scotland’s massive contribution to the UK’s balance of payments.

As if all of the above were not enough, Westminster cannot actually stop an independent Scotland from using the pound if we wanted to.  What are they going to do, send hit squads to every Scottish branch of Tescos to stand by the till ensuring shoppers pay in euros, Canadian coins left over from visiting their auntie, and an unidentified token they found in their granddad’s shed?  Scotland can use the pound without any agreement with Westminster.  Naturally that means Scotland won’t have any control over the currency it uses – which is exactly what we have now.  The difference is we’d also have an independent Parliament that controlled all the other economic levers.   And this would be terribly bad for Scotland because … ?  Nope,  I can’t think of anything scary either.

But this scenario also means that Westminster has no control over when Scotland decides to stop using the pound, and switches to its own currency or adopts another existing currency.  This would be bad for them because the demand in Scotland for rUK sterling would vanish overnight, and the currency would suddenly lose value.  Scotland will be free to make that decision when it suits Scotland, the Scottish Treasury will not be constrained by any agreements with the rUK Treasury.  Scotland could switch to a new currency at a time of its own convenience, without having to concern itself with the effects on the pound or the economy of the rUK.

But hey, we give them the same degree of consideration they give us right?  Mutual respect and good neighbourliness and all that…

The point is not to make threats.  Better Together provides plenty of those all by itself and the independence cause isn’t served by adding more.  The point is that Scotland is not powerless against the threats from Westminster and Better Together.  The threats they make prove only one thing – they need us more than we need them.

They’re in no position to make demands, and they know it.  The growing hysteria and mounting threats are because they’re realising that more and more people in Scotland know it too.   But it’s not working.  We’re not scared.

* It’s your fucking mess, you clean it up.

Deja poo

In a major speech, paid attention to by a small minority of media people and politics junkies, Ed Miliband has promised he’s going to govern just like Margaret Thatcher.  The promise came as Ed pledged that Labour’s goal in office would be to devolve power from Westminster.

Now where have we heard that before?  Oh aye, from every leader of Her Maj’s Opposition since time began.  When in opposition, Cameron and the Tories promised to take power away from government and ’empower individuals’.  When they got into office this turned out to mean privatising everything that wasn’t nailed down, and Michael Gove doing an impression of a goldfish while wrecking the English education system.

Maggie herself, when she was in opposition in the late 1970s, also promised to reduce the power of the state and deliver it to ordinary people.  We all know what happened next.  Many thousands of words have been written describing the effects of Thatcher’s rule, but decentralising Westminster’s power is not amongst them.  Instead Thatcher destroyed local government and centralised power in Westminster to an extent that had never been seen before.  The power is still there, still centralised.  Westminster’s band of mini-me Napoleons are not going to give any of it up unless it’s taken from them.

When Labour was in opposition in the 1990s they too promised to take power away from Westminster and devolve it downwards.  We got the Scottish Parliament, but Labour did its utmost to ensure it had as little power as possible – with Tony Blair infamously describing it as a parish council.  Meanwhile Labour colluded with the Lib Dems to introduce an electoral system that Donald Dewar and Ming Campbell fondly imagined would ensure a perpetual Labour-Lib Dem coalition.

They only introduced the Scottish Parliament because the demand for it was overwhelming and could not be ignored.  Labour’s true commitment to devolution and the decentralisation of power was seen in its proposals to introduce assemblies in the English regions and its handling of local government.  Labour didn’t restore the powers to local authorities and the plans for English devolution were watered down to such an extent that the new assemblies would have been powerless talking shops.

It’s a common trick played by Westminster politicians – promise change, but then offer a choice between the status quo or a change which is worse than useless.

Remember the AV referendum?  Out of all the possible alternatives to the corrupt and failing first past the post system, Westminster offered us the only system that’s actually worse.  Naturally it was rejected.  MPs in safe seats up and down the land breathed a sigh of relief and went back to checking their expenses claims.

So you’ll forgive me if I am more than a wee bit cynical about Ed’s promise to bring power to the people.  This was not Labour’s conversion to devomax, devoplus, or even devoaweebitmore. He promised mair devolution to everyone and their dug, but not Scotland.  Ed managed to get through his entire speech without mentioning Scotland at all.  Mentioning Scotland would mean intruding on the private grief that is Johann Lamont’s leadership (well, I say ‘leadership’) of the party’s northern outpost.

What’s more likely is that Labour will strip powers from Holyrood, under the guise of devolving power to local authorities.  They’ll reward the city fathers of Glasgow, and call it more devolution.  Quangos, ALEOs, and nice fat expense claims for cooncillors here we come.

The reality is that Labour cannot promise more devolution for Scotland, its own Scottish MPs will bitterly resist any attempt to reduce their influence and standing.  It was reported in the Herald a few days ago that a number of Labour MPs plan to boycott the party’s Scottish conference to protest against the very mild proposals for devolution due to be unveiled by Johann’s much touted commission shortly before the conference in May.  Labour’s Westminster MPs and a significant part of their Holyrood contingent are opposed to any significant extra powers for the Scottish Parliament.

The fragrant Ian Davidson took some time out from ensuring that his constituents in the Govan shipyard would lose their jobs if they vote for independence in order to warn that more devolution for Holyrood would mean the end of the Barnett Formula, and a sharp reduction in the Scottish block grant.  Ian will let us have extra powers, but only by impoverishing us.

Ken Wossiname Macintosh – the guy who almost won the Scottish ‘leadership’ election – is also opposed to extra tax powers for Holyrood.  Ken’s such a big hitter that he was Better Together’s recent mass public event outside Clarkston train station all by himself.

Another Scottish Labour MP was quoted by the paper as saying that it wasn’t up to Johann Lamont to make proposals for devolution, it was Ed Miliband’s job.  But as we’ve already seen, in Ed’s big devo speech he didn’t find time to utter the word Scotland at all.

See – Ed’s an honest politician.  He does exactly what he says he’s going to do.  He said he is going to govern like Margaret Thatcher, and just like Maggie he ignores Scotland entirely.

If we want real extra powers for the Scottish Parliament, there’s only one way we’ll get them.  Over the cold dead corpse of Ian Davidson’s career.

Sad face, happy face

Do you want your state pension to be privatised?  Because that’s what may happen if Scotland stays a part of the UK.  The Guardian has reported that Iain Duncan Smith is considering privatisation of pension delivery.

Mind you, younger people will have to wait until they’re 70, although at the rate the Tories are going by the time today’s 20 somethings reach 70 the pension age will be 95 and they’ll have to pass a written test and submit to an ATOS medical before being allowed to claim it.

My granny got to an advanced age, dying just a few weeks short of her 100th birthday.  She wasn’t a cuddly granny who gave out sweeties and whose eyes lit up when she saw you – that was my other granny who sadly died young.  As the saying goes, only the good die young, and my surviving granny was the living proof.   She was a cold hard woman who had a tough life in the school of hard knocks and compensated by knocking those around her.  She had to learn to be that way in order to survive.  She never liked me much, and the feeling was mutual.

While I respect her for surviving, and for bringing up my dad, visits from my gran were episodes of bile and unpleasantness.   If Scotland remains a part of the UK there will be many more Scottish grannies and grandfathers like her, beaten and defeated, destroyed and embittered by resentment about what could have been.  What makes it even more tragic is that so many won’t even get to her advanced age.  They’ll die young from diseases of poverty, stress and self-medication on alcohol or drugs.  Old and bitter, or a young deid alkie, that’s the future in store for many of us.

No answers are given by the Westminster political classes, whether Tory or Labour.  Instead we hear threats and frights, lies and deception, all dressed up in the bunting of patriotism and appeals to tradition.  It’s the pageantry of poverty and the tradition of social exclusion, a glorious history of unemployment and cannon fodder.

Project Fear is trying to make us afraid of things that won’t happen in order to hide the scary things that are happening right now.  So we get endless waffle about the currency, scares about EU membership.  But for all the gory presentation, it’s just a mess of tripe.

I’m fed up with the currency talk.  I’m sick of EU contortions.  Scotland and the rest of the UK will agree to a currency union, the EU will admit Scotland as a full member as quickly as possible.  Those are the grown up realities.  The issues are red herrings to distract us from considering what’s really going on here and now.

September’s vote is not a vote about hypotheticals.  It’s a vote of confidence in the very real actions and deeds of the Parliament we’ve got right now – Westminster.  The question is simple – is Westminster fit for purpose?

The first time I left the UK I was 17.  I visited the Netherlands and on my first day there I spent an afternoon wandering around Rotterdam, thinking how pleasant and clean it was.  I got chatting to a guy in a park, and as he left he gave me a friendly warning “Be careful, this is a rough area.”

And that’s when it struck me, this clean and pleasant district was a “rough area”.  The grime and decay of Shettleston Road in 1980 wasn’t normal, the beaten down and defeated people like my granny who trundled along to the Co-op eking out their pennies on a pint of milk and a loaf of bread were being cheated and deceived.  That’s when I knew Scotland needed independence.

34 years later and Shettleston Road is still grimy and decaying.  The Co-op is still full of beaten down and defeated people stretching their meagre pensions on special offers on baked beans so they’ll have enough coins left over to feed the electric meter for an hour or two.  And this in a country that ought to rank amongst the richest nations in the world.

This is the reality of modern Britain.  It’s a country that’s breeding another generation of disappointed hopes and shattered dreams.  It’s the country of my grandmother.  I don’t want it to be the country of my grandchildren.  But the Tories are hell-bent on destroying the last vestiges of social protection and selling off what remains of state assets.  Labour is content to allow them to do the dirty work, but despite their hand-wringing they do nothing to rebuild Conservative destruction.  They promise the same austerity, just with a sad emoticon.  🙁

That’s the only difference between the UK’s two major parties.  Labour and the Tories are the sad and happy faced mask on the outside of the UK theatre.  But apart from the smile or the grimace the faces are identical, and the play is is a tragedy.

We need a new theatre, a new play, and new players.  We need a happy ending.  We’ll only get that by voting yes.

Better Together has an ely

Well that went well, didn’t it.  Despite being hailed by some random Tories, and even the Observer, as one of the most passionate and eloquent speeches Davie Cameron has ever delivered (there’s low expectations for you), the reaction in Scotland to Cameron’s plea for us to remain under his thumb, sorry, remain a part of bright and shiny Brand Britain, has been a mixture of anger and scorn.

Dave has reduced us to a brand.  Marmite, that’s a brand.  The difference between Marmite and Dave is that even people who like Marmite would still be nauseated by seeing Dave over the breakfast table.  The guy just doesn’t get it.  We’re not interested in product promotion, but even if we were the basic expectation any of us have from an advert is that it tells us what the product will do for us.  Dave couldn’t even do that.

In history books yet to be written, Dave’s wee impression of a used car salesman in the echoing emptiness of London’s Olympic Velodrome will be seen as the moment when the Union was lost.  What it showed was that the Westminster elite are blind to the perspective of Scotland, deaf to her voices, and do not feel the shifting of Caledonian tectonic plates.

Dave chose the venue because of the symbolism it represented, to him.  All he has are symbols, there was nothing of substance in his words.  He didn’t understand that the value of a symbol is in the experience of the perceiver.  He thought he was stirring up an image of a common British experience, but he could not see why a Tory lecturing Scotland from afar, in front of a row of bicycles, might stir up images of other Tories lecturing us to get on our bikes.  The din of a distant Olympic roar deafened him to the complaint from Scotland that our taxes had helped pay for it, yet it brought no benefit to us – like so much Westminster does.  He spoke of the damage to the prestige of a Parliament that most of us believe is already too arrogant by half.

Dave still thinks it’s all about identity.  That’s the mistake he’s been making since the independence campaign began.  He hasn’t realised that Scotland is already quite sure of its identity, it’s an identity that doesn’t need Westminster to define or validate it.  And we’re increasingly of the opinion that it’s an identity that doesn’t include Dave, a man who talks at us but never listens to us and won’t be questioned by us.  And who, most certainly, is not accountable to us.

All Dave’s misjudged plea did was to confirm that opinion.  How can he claim to share an identity with a country he doesn’t even begin to understand?  The immense irony of this debate is that despite the accusations of Better Together that independence will turn us into foreigners, we are already foreigners to Westminster.  They do not even know who we are.

For the past year and a half, Better Together and the Tories have smugly congratulated themselves that all was going to plan.  But as the polls show that the no vote continues to evaporate away, they’re starting to get the awful feeling that something, somewhere, has gone terribly terribly wrong.  While they’ve been talking down to us and talking us down via their total control of the mainstream media, people in Scotland have been talking amongst ourselves.  We’ve been having a different conversation, a conversation about our future not our past.

The late great humourist Douglas Adams once published a book called the Meaning of Liff.  Adams thought that there were many useful concepts for which the English language lacked words, and many words – in the form of place names – which have no modern meaning.  So he decided to pair them up.  Liff, the village near Dundee, was defined as “A book, the contents of which are totally belied by its cover. For instance, any book the dust jacket of which bears the words. ‘This book will change your life.”  Spookily descriptive of just about any Better Together press release.  Meanwhile the Cambridge city of Ely is “The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.”  This week Better Together had an ely.

This realisation seems to have dawned on Tory MP and former Eton schoolboy Rory Stewart, the one that called for 100,000 Unionists to stand along Hadrian’s Wall bearing torches so they can gaze northwards into Northumbria and ward off the advancing Picts.  Not sure why he thinks that will help his cause, but it does give something of an indication of just how clueless English Tory MPs are about the Scottish referendum, even those who, like Rory, profess to be as Scottish as haggis pakora and Irn Bru.

On Friday night’s Newsnight on BBC2, Rory went to a pub in the East End of Glesga along with the BBC’s Alan Little in order to persuade a few Weegies that the Tories really get Scotland and would be diminished without us.  Rory’s the Ross Kemp of the posh end of the Tory party, and he was going to lovebomb where even Ruth Davidson’s drones fear to fly.  It was one of those “ooo let’s get the popcorn” moments.

What Stewart discovered, much to his surprise, was that the independence debate isn’t about identity, or even nationalism.  He was genuinely perplexed.  He was even more perplexed that the camera crew only managed to find a single No voter.  He had the look of a general who had just discovered he’d won an overwhelming victory in the wrong war.  It’s not about Scotland’s identity questions at all.  It’s about Westminster’s.

Does Westminster stand for fairness, for equality?  How does it express the will of the Scottish people?  Does it listen?  Is it accountable?  Does it tell us the truth?  The evidence suggests very strongly it does none of these things.  That leaves the biggest concern of all, how is Westminster going to reform itself between now and September 18 to lay Scotland’s concerns to rest.

Rory didn’t have an answer.  There isn’t one.  That’s why Scotland is going to vote yes.

Taking the Buchan out of buccaneering

Not content with lecturing Scotland from afar, David Cameron stood atop a podium in the Olympic velodrome in the East End of London on Friday and begged people in England Wales and Northern Ireland to lecture Scotland from afar as well.  He wants folk in other parts of the UK to phone their Scottish friends and relatives to beg them not to vote for independence because he’s unwilling to have a conversation with Scotland himself.  He’s quite happy to lecture and hector, but he runs back to nanny if there’s any possibility that Scottish people might answer him back or ask him questions.

So instead we had the surreal experience of Cameron describing the UK as the most brilliant buccaneering country in history.  I thought the world’s most buccaneering country was Somalia, but never mind.  It’s unclear why Davie boy thinks buccaneering is a good thing, what with piracy being illegal under international law and everything, but he doesn’t want Scotland to become independent because we’ll take the Buchan out of his buccaneering.  That just leaves him eerily erring.

Was Cameron saying we should take to fishing boats and hold North Sea ferries to ransom?  It’s more likely that our tin eared PM just doesn’t know the difference between buccaneering – piracy, robbery, and hostage taking (which in themselves are the epitome of British Imperial values, although not ones Michael Gove wants to admit to) – and swashbuckling, which is pure dead glamorous if you’re a 1930s movie star with a moustache to twiddle, as opposed to a Westminster politician talking twaddle.  However when Scotland looks at Davie Cameron, we don’t see Errol Flynn abseiling down a galleon’s rigging, we see thon guy in the top hat tying a Scottish maiden onto a railway track and running away before anyone clocks him.

Cameron spoke in front of a backdrop draped in bicycles which looked like it was designed by Norman Tebbit, Thatcher’s axeman who told unemployed Scots to get on their bikes and seek work dahn sarf.  The subliminal message we were meant to receive was that this was the venue where Chris Hoy won his gold medal for Britain, because we’re supposed to decide our country’s future on the basis of whether some guy can pedal a bike really really fast.  Instead the real lesson is that if we remain in the Union, future generations of Scots will have to get on their bikes and emigrate to find work.  That’s if they can afford a bike.

Davie had no answer for that, so he spoke of patriotism and attempted to make an emotional appeal to the heart.  Wasn’t it the Yes campaign that was supposed to be based on irrational emotions and an appeal to a rosy eyed version of the past? But that’s all we get from Better Together because they have no positive case to make.  They love us so much they threaten us with oblivion and poverty, they denigrate and diminish, insult and impugn.   There’s a  difference between loving and stalking which Cameron doesn’t seem to have picked up on.

He had nothing to say about the future, his speech was entirely about the past, appealing to the nostalgia of those who still believe that the UK is important and has the power to effect change in the world, as opposed to the dismal reality of a lapdog of the Pentagon which promises only more austerity and more savage cuts.  Cameron doesn’t care about Scotland, he only cares about his own role on the world stage.  His patriotism is the patriotism of a personal ego massage.  Scotland doesn’t want to live in the past.  We’re looking to the future, and Westminster’s brand of patriotism has nothing to offer.

Westminster’s patriotism is the patriotism of selling off everything that’s not nailed down to the highest bidder, the patriotism of tax avoiding big business, the patriotism of demonising the poor, and the patriotism of milking Scotland Wales and Northern England dry to finance the bloated ego projects like the Olympic Velodrome where Cameron delivered his sermon.  Cheering for Britain doesn’t come cheap.

The real issue, which Cameron conveniently overlooked, is that the Westminster Parliament doesn’t cheer for the whole of the United Kingdom.  It only cheers for the City of London, the banks, and feather bedding London and the South East and those on high salaries at the expense of the rest of the UK.  The Tories have sold off all the institutions that once glued the United Kingdom together, it’s scarcely surprising that few of us know what “Britishness” is supposed to mean nowadays.  So they only have themselves to blame that Scotland has logged onto the website comparethepatriotismservicesprovider.com because we’re not happy with the customer service or value for money we’re getting from our current supplier.  We’ve discovered that other options are available.

So he should applaud Scotland’s decision to hold an independence referendum and see it as another instance of privatisation.  He’s very keen on flogging off national assets and making the state smaller.  We can make Cameron’s state smaller simply by putting an X next to the box marked YES, and take Westminster’s bloated ego down a peg or three in the process.

That won’t just be good for Scotland, it will be good for Wales, Northern Ireland, and the English regions too.  No wonder the most highly rated comments on the BBC News site were those from folk in other parts of the UK urging us to vote Yes, and begging for us to take them with them.   Those phone calls are going to be interesting.

Defending Scotland’s interests

This week Scotland has witnessed the Westminster state in all its arrogant and patronising glory.  It started off so well over the weekend, with a series of good news stories for Scottish independence, but we’re not allowed to dream of a future which isn’t determined by Magrit Curran, the Fandabidozy Alistair Twins and the massed ranks of posh Tory public schoolboys, so the state propaganda department made sure that none of it was reported.

Instead we got a manufactured, and deeply implausible, scare story from the mooth of wee moothed George Robertson’s pal in BP – killing nationalism stone dead by proxy.  Then we got Alistair Koalamichael, aided and abetted by la Magrit – who despite her stairheid rammy reputation came originally from the posh bit of Baillieston – standing up in the Commons to make ritual denunciations of ordinary Scottish people who dare to challenge Westminster’s agenda.

Alistair actually commended the Daily Mail’s campaign of vilification of people who have broken no laws and committed no crimes, because the very worst thing possible is calling someone a rude name.  Calling folk rude names is far worse than invading Iraq, axing housing benefit for the disabled or ill, or rewarding the bankers who brought the country to the brink of ruin.  It’s worse than lying, manipulating, threatening or bullying.  Westminster does all those things, but they’re doing it to preserve the Union, and that makes it hunky dory.

Even more remarkably, or perhaps not, Alistair denied that any vilification or hatred originated from no campaigners, saying : “I know of nobody suggesting that anybody on the pro-UK side of the debate has acted in that way.”

Is he deaf and blind as well as stupid and blinkered?  Or more to the point, does he think we are?  Actually that’s insulting to deaf blind people, who have a form of tactile sign language which allows them to communicate effectively with their hands.  Alistair only feels things with his arse.  The plooks on his bumcheeks spell out “I love being kicked by Tories” in braille.  If the Unionist parties get their way and destroy Scotland’s unprivatised NHS, the entire country will suffer from the same acne related condition.  But Alistair thinks that’s a good thing.

There’s some vitriol fur ye Alistair, to add to your collection.  The no campaign is defined by negativity, insults, abuse, and a simple minded reductionism.  It’s what they do.  Alistair is like those antigay campaigners in the 80s and 90s who complained about dreadful homosexuals and how intolerant they are of decent homophobic bigots.  And no, I’m not calling him a homophobe, I am merely pointing out that he employs the same tactics, albeit on a different target.  When you are a hypocrite Alistair, you do not deserve respect.

So Nicola Sturgeon didn’t receive death threats on Twitter, an elderly yes campaigner in Edinburgh wasn’t attacked by a no supporter who broke his wrist, Alex Salmond has never ever ever not even once been called a dictator and didn’t receive insulting and abusive messages after the death of his father, Simon Heffer’s racist anti-Scottish diatribe in the Daily Mail was just a harmless wee joke, a unionist in Glasgow wasn’t up in court this week on charges of sending death threats to yes campaigners, the abuse which litters the comment sections of any online newspaper – but not the BBC because it won’t allow comments on Scottish stories – is entirely from yes supporters and there’s no such thing as a unionist troll, pro-independence websites have not been subject to denial of service attacks, companies are not being pressurised or threatened by Westminster to make anti-independence statements  …

None of this has happened in Alistair’s wee world, but apparently BP chief executive Bob Dudley was described as a British nationalist after his intervention in the indy debate, and that was terribly terribly wrong.  It’s a foul insult to call people nationalists as it might discourage them from participating in the debate.

If Alistair wanted to discover evidence of abuse originating from the Unionist campaign, he wouldn’t have far to look.  Much of it comes from his bosses.  Lying to people, denying them access to full information, and threatening them is a form of abuse, yet it’s Westminster’s stock in trade, and Koalamichael has the enthusiastic support of Labour and the entire UK mainstream media.  Alistair doesn’t want to look, and he doesn’t want anyone else to look either.

I’d glad Alistair has cleared everything up for us. It’s reassuring to know that the Secretary of State for Scotland is doing such a sterling job of defending Scottish interests.