Saturday, 28 February 2015

Wings Over Scotland: An Apology

I feel bad.

I've upset the Reverend Stuart Campbell, custodian of the "Wings Over Scotland" website.

In August 2014 I attempted a knowing nod to his own shock-jock style in a blog post entitled "The Wee Blue Book of Lies".  In that post I tried to mirror his own irreverent approach whilst highlighting some material errors in his then recently published "Wee Blue Book". I understand now that the Reverend was so stung by my hurtful tone that he wasn't able to actually read the blog. My bad.

If you doubt that my gentle ribbing upset Stu so much that he was unable to read or respond to my blog, here's a selection of his Twitter responses











This is all very unfortunate.

His Wikipedia entry explains that his aim is to provide a "fair and honest perspective on Scottish politics".  By failing to be polite and respectful in my tone I prevented him from discovering that he was actually being unfair and dishonest in his Wee Blue Book.  I'm sure if he knew this he'd be deeply upset; I let him down.

So let me address Stuart directly

******

Dear Mr Campbell (or Reverend if you prefer)

I'm sorry if my previous attempts to clarify your errors caused you offence.

Please allow me to clearly, politely and respectfully help you understand why - as a man of integrity and honesty - you will want to issue a public apology for a rather significant error in your Wee Blue Book.  There are others I could choose but let's look at this paragraph on page 13.


I choose this statement as it is central to your economic thesis and widely accepted as true by your followers and readers.

I want to focus on the words "on average Scotland sends £1,700 more per person to the UK in taxes".

The link you provide is to the Scottish Government White Paper which does cite £1,700 as the figure for 2011/12.  There are a number of issues here so let's take this very carefully.

  1. The figure quoted there is for 2011/12; it's not an average of any sort
  2. That figure came from GERS published in March 2012 (which was the latest available when the White paper was published)
  3. At the time you published the Wee Blue Book, updated GERS figures were available (and had been for about 5 months)
  4. When the 2012/13 GERS were published the Scottish Government restated the figures for 2011/12 to correct an error in the geographic allocation of oil revenue1 
To help you out here is a simple summary of the actual data that was available when you published the book (still the most recent GERS2  figures)


If you wanted to use the most recent figure (as you seemed to be trying to do in your original statement) you should really have said "In the most recent year for which data is available Scotland sent around £800 more per person to the UK in taxes".  I recognise that this is significantly less than the higher expenditure we receive; it's an unfortunate truth that doesn't really suit your central thesis.

So if you want to use an average figure to match the figure you (correctly) use when you say "UK spending is around £1,200 higher per person in Scotland than in the UK as a whole" you should really say "on average Scotland sends around £1,200 more per person to the UK in taxes".  The next sentence would I guess then read "We actually get back 100% of the extra money we send to London".

As a man who is keen to ensure that the Scottish people are well informed I think you will agree this is a materially different conclusion from the one you published. I take back my accusation that you knowingly lied - I am willing to accept it was probably just a mistake which I know you will want to correct.

You might also want to point out that in the most recent published figures we actually get back significantly more than we send to London (as we have in three of the four most recent years).  You could mention that this will undoubtedly be true in 2013-14 and 2014-15 as well - but it's perhaps unreasonable to ask you to stretch your honesty and integrity that far.

At the very least I am sure you will have the decency to update the electronic version of this document.  I imagine too you will also want to remove the words "Everything inside it is still true" from your fund-raising site (where you are selling hard copies of the book for £52 a shot).


Kind regards

Kevin

****


For those who wonder why I still bother about this - this matters because this distortion of the facts was very widely circulated.

To quote directly his fund-raising site where he celebrates the success of the Wee Blue Book "At 72 pages it was twice as big as we originally planned, and we distributed around 300,000 print copies to every corner of Scotland - more than three times as many as the Scottish Government's White Paper - with another 800,000+ copies of the electronic version downloaded. In all we spent over £70,000 on it."

At the time of writing he is even flogging tin-foil wrapped souvenir editions.

He actually says "Everything inside it is still true".

Oh dear.




If you think this is a one off and Stu is the only culprit - see my recent post > Simplify Exaggerate & Carry on Regardless


****

Footnotes

1. The main source of revision for 2012-12 was the correction of North Sea Oil revenue allocation; you can see the full amendments as applied by the Scottish Government on page 86 of the 2012-13 GERS

2. In case there is any doubt about these figures here are the actual data tables from GERS



85 comments:

RevStu said...

tl;dr

Kevin Hague said...

Ah Rev so kind of you to comment.

Your "haven't read it" defence is becoming increasingly ridiculous.

It'd disappointing that your response is not to correct your Wee Blue Book but instead to set your Twitter followers on me and call me (on Twitter) a "mental fucking imbecile".

Anybody reading this blog can judge for themselves whether I am over-reacting to your failure to correct the misinformation in your Wee Blue Book.

Just Passing Through said...

This article is the kind of thing I regularly expect to see on the WoS website: A picking apart of a highly publicised mistake with a mocking undertone masquerading as a polite request for amendment.

And the response from the Reverend has been no different either. He's been as flippant and indifferent to this as those on the sharp end of his barbs usually react so I can't say I'm that surprised.

A lot of the more popular online political commentators mostly conduct themselves in the same way yet I've seen more than my fair share of indignant strops on the matter (*cough* Hothershall *cough*). Social Media in it's current form is a terrible venue for constructive debate. As well meaning as this post may be, just as WoS has yet to bring down the Daily Record or any of it's other nemeses on it's ever-growing Enemys List, it won't have the desired effect.

No offense intended on either side, just an observation.

Peter A Bell said...

I got about about a third of the way through this tedious rant before giving up as the will to live ebbed.

So long as british nationalist fanatics are attacking Wings Over Scotland we can reasonably assume that Stu Campbell is doing a good job for Scotland. It is surely no coincidence that this onslaught has intensified very significantly since Wings Over Scotland exposed the Daily Record's lies about "The Vow".

I have no idea who Kevin Hague is, and care considerably less. That he so willingly lends himself to this campaign of vilification against a voice that does no more than challenge the orthodoxies of the British state in a perfectly reasonable manner marks him as someone unworthy of respect.

I don't doubt that Wings Over Scotland may make the occasional mistake. But the worst of those errors will be as nothing compared to the lies and the scaremongering and the hate-speak of the British nationalist propaganda machine.

Kevin Hague said...

Peter

That you can't be bothered to read what I clearly explain Wings has done before leaping to his defence says it all really.

Jason Hoffman said...

Kevin, could you explain to me why the tax revenue generated from North Sea oil is not included in the total current revenue?

I am presuming that all North Sea revenue, whether it is from oil east of Shetland; gas from East Anglia; or whatever is produced anywhere in the waters and on land in the UK and its territorial waters is divided amongst the whole of the UK on a proportional basis.

How this number is calculated must have a huge bearing on the tax revenue figures for Scotland and the UK, and has done since North Sea oil came on stream.

Also, can you confirm that whisky revenue is taxed in the country where it is produced rather than the point of export if it happened to be outside of Scotland.

I'd just like to see clearly what the sum of money is that Scotland raised, and what the sum of money is that Scotland received back.

I'm not sure I have see that anywhere.

Are the GERS figures a convenient accountancy trick or is there a rationale for their methods that I've not understood.

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

Firstly these figures absolutely do include North Sea Oil revenue allocated to Scotland on the favourable geographic share methodolgy. You can follow the full tax/spend audit trail here Scotland's Economy

Secondly all taxes are (correctly) calculated based on consumption - there is confusion about this sown by Wings and Business for Scotland - it is fully covered in the footnotes to this post Yes or No: Makes no Difference

The GERS numbers are assembled by the Scottish Government and if there is any bias it is to favour the appearance of Scottish Figures (for example HMRC assume lower corp tax revenues would fall to Scotland). These are the numbers the Scottish Government wanted to use when making the case for independence

Anonymous said...

Love Peter A Bells comment about "this tedious rant."

Has anyone ever actually read what this baffoon writes from start to finish??

One suspects he is out to make a name for himself. Unfortunately it is for all the wrong reasons.

Terry Summers said...

Kevin,
You seem to have stirred up the hornets nest, and whilst Rev Stu hasn't responded directly, some of his heavyweight supporters are on your case.
Good work keep it up, the more these key pieces of mis-information that underpinned the totally bogus economic case put forward for Independence, and is still being peddled by Sturgeon et al, the sooner we will be able to get on with repairing the damage done during the referendum campaign and the aftermath.
Cheers
Terry

Greg said...

It speaks volumes about Wings over Bath that he can fart out a whole book but can't bring himself to read a few hundred words of contrary opinion, let alone engage with an actual argument. Bravo sir.

We've even got a Nat troll playing the man, not the ball! You'd do Eck proud, Peter!

Kevin, your apology to WoS may be noble but I find the idea that GERS figures were quoted incorrectly as part of as genuine error to be absolutely ridiculous. I would assert that this glaring error was well known at the time of writing and was simply crow-barred into the WBB regardless of its authenticity. This is decision based evidence finding after all, as opposed to evidence based decision making.

Anonymous said...

Well it is not the greatest post though. It is a series of tweets that mean nothing in isolation. I could get a better collection of offensive tweets.

As for the rest - the economics stuff - it is just a monument to Kevin Hague's misunderstanding of economics and economic data. Here's some questions;

Why do you attach so much importance to one year (2012-13)? Why have you not included caveats on reserved expenditure? What about other revenue streams which could create a surplus in Scotland?

I understand people are passionate British Nationalists, but don't pretend this has anything to do with what's best for the people of Scotland. It's nauseating and offensive.

Toby's Random Musings said...

Peter, "Rev" Stu: do read it. Kevin is doing you a massive favour by forcing you to look at the facts, which you blithely ignore.

This is a problem for the pro-Indy crowd. Indeed, the lack of a credible economic plan is a major element of the reason you lost.

Kevin Hague said...

Dear "Its not the greatest post" Anonymous

Stu's defenders are so keen on the anonymous - but I publish the comments because you damn yourselves with your own words.

So here goes;

1. I don't focus on 2012-13 - In fact I suggest he uses the last five year average - I simply suggest that if he *is* going to use the latest year (as he thought he had, despite calling it an average) then the number would be £800. You might have missed the table of data showing the last five years with the difference figures highlighted in YELLOW? I also discuss (as I have elsewhere on this blog what the next year's figures we'll see might look like. I can understand why you might want to ignore that.

2. If you want to challenge my understanding of the economics I suggest you read these two posts;
Scotland's Economy


Yes or No: Makes no difference

3. If you read the footnotes to the second of the posts above you will see it further exposes Stu's confusion over the GERS figures (relating to corporation tax and VAT allocation)

4. As you will see in those posts I do cover the issues you mention - but as demonstrated by his response to this post I know Stu has a short attention span - he can't manage to read this so I can't exactly be accused of not putting enough stuff in here

5. You appear to have missed the whole point - I have focused on a specific but hugely significant factual error Stu has made - other posts on this blog cover the wider issues at some length.

As for the Tweets I included - I wanted to make clear that Stu was aware that I'd highlighted (some of) his errors and was knowingly ignoring them whilst continuing to punt his "book"

If asking him as politely as I can to correct an error is "nauseating & offensive" to you it suggests you are a faithful acolyte of the Rev with no interest in facts.

Cheers


11nytram11 said...

@Anonymous

The GERS figures for 2011/12 are the ones the Scottish Government used to promoted independence, and they are the figures Wings over Scotland and Business for Scotland used to argue that Scotland gets less out of the UK than it puts in.

The 2012/13 GERS figures damaged their argument and by pointing out that fact, and that they refused to adjust their argument accordingly to account for it but instead re-evalutated the GERS figures to include 100% of the geographical share of Oil revenue to maintain the previous figures, Kevin is rightfully showing where they are misleading the electorate - wilfully or otherwise - and further highlights this point by pointing out that taking the last four years of GERS figures as an average Scotland has put no more into the UK than it has taken out.

By highlighting the fact that those figures for the 2011/12 financial year are one in year in isolation and not the average, and that there are more up-to-date figures which the Scottish Government, Wing's and BfS's do not use it shows how they are either not being honest with the facts and figures or else are illiterate to them.

Kevin is working with the facts as produced by the Scottish Government's own expenditure and revenue department for the recent history and the relevant time frame which the nationalists use to argue their case to show where their argument is flawed. That being the case I fail to see where the logic is in asking him why he isn't taking into account hypothetical scenrios "about other revenue streams which could create a surplus in Scotland". If its not in GERS it's not relevant to a debate about how GERS figures are being used to argue for or against Scottish independence.

Max Bennie said...

"At the time of writing he is even flogging tin-foil wrapped souvenir editions." - Yes, they come with a free tin foil hat.

Jason Hoffman said...

Why is North Sea revenue allocated on any other basis than revenue from Scotland? What is the need for a favourable geographical allocation. Surely it's a question of whether it's "our" oil or not. What is the reason for this? I presume that fish pulled from the North Sea and landed at Scottish ports is considered Scottish. The allocation of oil revenue has a huge bearing on Scotland's economic figures.

And you didn't answer my previous question about whisky exports. Where is the money for this accounted? The place of manufacture, the location of the company HQ or the port of export? Basically is scotch whisky produced in Scotland counted towards Scotland's economic output or do we get a geographical proportion of yet another high value industry?

Before anyone has a go at me for being a spy or a troll, I did vote Yes - I am not here to stir. My reasons for voting Yes are as much to do with utter disenchantment with Westminster, the Tories, Labour and the mainstream media. Economic reasons were always secondary for me. Life isn't all about money.

And I'm not interested in point scoring between bloggers on differing sides of the argument. I'm interested in experts explaining to me how our economic figures are arrived at.

The economic case for Scotland and the case for the UK is not clear. And I believe it has been deliberately confused to make it confusing to the electorate. The more confusing it is, the less people are prepared to risk changing anything, just in case.

I run my own business, and at the end of the day I am able to provide HMRC with a figure that my corporation tax is based on. Why so hard for Scotland? Or the UK for that matter.

Kevin, having read your posts on the figures for the Scottish economy, i am still unclear at why some things are included in what is Scottish, and why others like oil are not. Or are they?

Max Bennie said...

"I don't doubt that Wings Over Scotland may make the occasional mistake." - YOU THINK?! Inciting hatred is worse than the "occasional mistake", wouldn't you say?

"But the worst of those errors will be as nothing compared to the lies and the scaremongering and the hate-speak of the British nationalist propaganda machine." - Spoken like a true nationalist fanatic whose only source of "news" regarding the referendum came from nationalist sites and never bothered to find out any facts that weren't biased from a nationalist viewpoint. Peter, you are infinitely more nationalistic than those you slander as being "British nationalists" - without producing a single piece of evidence to back up your smears. I've asked you about this before, maybe you'd like to give an answer this time without resorting to abuse? Without any justification from you, I have come to the conclusion that "British nationalists" is your general term for anyone who dares to disagree with the independence agenda, or anyone who stands up and says "Hang on, I don't buy this for second."

Still going on about scaremongering I see. It's like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, only this time it's The Nationalists Who Cried Scaremongering. Except in this version, the character doesn't learn his lesson.

Also you claim that "So long as (alleged) british nationalist fanatics are attacking Wings Over Scotland we can reasonably assume that Stu Campbell is doing a good job for Scotland". Jim Murphy had abuse shouted at him by actual nationalist fanatics on his campaign tour, and was famously pelted with an egg by one. Genuine nationalist fanatics are filming themselves shouting abuse at Labour politicians as they knock on people's doors. Does that mean that we can reasonably assume that the Labour party is doing a good job for Scotland? This is where your logic falls apart.

I used to say that the Rev is like a Scottish Katie Hopkins, but then I realised that would be an insult to Katie Hopkins, because not even someone as insufferably despicable as Hopkins would sink to the level of the Rev. He's actually closer to Squealer from Animal Farm, only even less human.

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

If you've read the posts I recommended and still don't understand I'm not sure I can help you.

To put it more simply
1. The numbers do include all "oor oil" as the Scottish government would like to define it based on most favourable definition of "our waters"

2. All VAT and duties are based on point of consumption as Scottish Government rightly argue (that's why we get tobacco duty without growing tobacco)

3. Similarly all profit on eg. whisky exports is assumed as would bb taxed were we independent

THESE ARE THE NUMBERS THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT AND SNP WANT TO USE - THEY ARE AS FAVOURABLE AS POSSIBLE TO SCOTLAND

Jason Hoffman said...

I'd be interested to see the analysis of the performance of the UK economy over the past decade.

According to the analysis you've provided, Scotland is better off as part of the Union. But how is the UK economy performing? Are we living in the land of milk and honey; or really being spun a lie or two?

One thing that the referendum clearly showed was that there was an appetite for change in Scotland, in some shape or form. As well as the Yes voters, a fair proportion of No voters were looking for something new too: maybe not full-blown independence but more Devo.

So whilst the referendum might have chosen the Union to continue, change, certainly in Scotland, is still on the cards.

In May, do we chose to elect one of two Unionist parties who are intent of pursuing the same policies of austerity rather than growth; reducing the welfare state, rather than reducing our reliance on it; continuing to try to act like a World Power when we clearly cannot afford it; continue a reliance on nuclear weapons just to keep on giving us the seat on the security council at the UN.

I am personally aligned to no party. I am and will be forever opposed to the Tories (that's my upbringing in a coal mining area in the 80s); the Labour party in Scotland have for too long taken our votes for granted and deserve to be shown that they need to earn our vote; and the Lib Dems, who I used to vote for, have sold their principles for power. UKIP are a disaster in waiting, and the Greens will never amount to anything in the current FPTP electoral system.

So who's left?

Ron Sturrock said...

The only conclusion I can reach is that the GERS publications are not read in their entirety, not everyone's cup of tea I grant.

And, if you want to find out how oil revenue is apportioned i would recommend the UK expert, as acknowledged by all parties, Prof. A. Kemp

The Hypothetical Scottish Share
of Revenues and Expenditures from the UK Continental Shelf 2000 – 2013

And, with regard to Nulclear, Railways the Olympics etc amendments are contained within GERS 2012. See tables B5 & B6.

Nuclear Decommissioning and Related Expenditures
In PESA CRA 2012, expenditure on nuclear decommissioning was classified as identifiable to the region where nuclear facilities are located. However, as discussed in previous editions of GERS,29 it is believed that this expenditure is best captured as a non-identifiable expenditure. This has been amended and nuclear decommissioning expenditure has been apportioned on a per capita basis. Other associated nuclear expenditure, such as security at nuclear facilities, has also been reapportioned on a per capita basis.
Railways Expenditures
As discussed in previous editions of GERS, railways expenditure, alongside expenditure on roads, is apportioned to Scotland on an ‘in’ basis. This means that expenditure ‘in’ Scotland on railways is apportioned to Scottish public sector expenditure while, where possible, a zero share is allocated to Scotland for all expenditure on rail across the rest of the UK. This required a number of modifications to the underlying PESA data which affected the expenditure by London and Continental Railways, the Channel Tunnel Rail link, and Network Rail.

2012 Olympics
Although some Olympics expenditures were assigned to London in the latest PESA not all were identified in that way. Consequently, as discussed in previous editions of GERS, all capital expenditure associated with the Olympics has been assigned to the rest of the UK, primarily London and surrounding area, on the basis that Scotland will not receive a lasting benefit from the infrastructure and regeneration associated with the games. Current expenditure on the Olympics has been assigned across the countries and regions of the UK using the estimated regional distribution of the associated increase in tourism expenditure.

So make up your mind.

Apologies for the length of the post.

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

I don't suggest how people vote - I just ask for the facts to be fairly presented so we can make informed choices.

I have attempted to explore some of the issues around Scotland's future economic challenges in this post > Yes or No: Makes n difference.

As far as the politics goes I have only one clear conclusion based on my analyses - independence or full fiscal autonomy would inevitably (in the short to medium term) worsen the economic conditions that Scots would be living in. For some that may not matter; for me it does.

Jason Hoffman said...

The referendum is over.

We voted for the Union.

More powers have been devolved under the Smith Commission.

Another referendum is not on the cards and independence is not going to happen for a long time, if ever.

It's time to move on and focus our attention on the UK, to which Scotland contributes a great deal.

And whilst a lot of attention has been focused on Scotland's economy in the case of independence, very little has looked at the UK's in a continuing Union.

In the same way that assumptions were made about Scotland's ability or inability to pay its way, we need to dig into the numbers that Westminster produces for the UK.

Surely that is deserving of some scrutiny? Yes?

We're told that we're Better Together. Prove it.

Max Bennie said...

"And whilst a lot of attention has been focused on Scotland's economy in the case of independence, very little has looked at the UK's in a continuing Union."

That's because the burden of proof was on the Yes side. And in many ways, it still is.

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

Why do I need to prove it if that question is no longer being asked?

I agree we need to think positively about our economic choices - I look at the differences between UK and Scotland here > Scotland's Economy.
I make the point that many of the questions we need to answer are true for the UK too. I don't claim to know all the answers.

I certainly feel under no obligation to "prove it" as you rather ungraciously demand

Jason Hoffman said...

Kevin

I don't mean to sound ungracious, but as someone who has clearly spent a lot of time on this, and as one of the few Yes or No bloggers who is prepared to discuss issues with some dispassion, then I'd like to see where you stand on the UK economy.

I absolutely agree that the Yes campaign did not convince the sceptics of the economic case for independence. I've spoken to enough No voters to accept this.

And I also agree it was on the Yes campaign to argue the case FOR independence rather than the No to prove the case for the Union. But it would have been nice if they had. I was never convinced with the pro-union chat: apart from the economic arguments there were many good and valid reasons for independence. And as I said, life is not all about money.

But now that the referendum is over, we need to start looking at the economy of the Union. The performance of the Con/LibDem coalition has not been scrutinised nearly enough.

Hence the challenge. You chose to pick apart the pro-indy economic arguments as a pro-unionist. And you do it well.

Now all I am asking is whether it would be possible to do the same with the UK economy?

I'm not interested in you vs the Rev. You'll never agree. I don't care about the Twitter chat - it's just more of the same blah, blah, blah...he said, she said crap. I don't care what some Scottish Labour person says about some SNP person and vice versa. I spent enough pointless hours engaged in futile pro vs unionist online arguments. No opinion was changed. Ever.

I read WoS (I enjoy his relentless pursuit of the flailings of Scottish Labour) and I read Bellacaledonia and lots of other things too. I've read you on occasions and am engaging directly with you now. I'm not a troll or a cybernat. I've read some terrible stuff from Unionists and some terrible stuff from Pro-Indy too. I like to read and form my own opinions. But I need the information to do so.

Toby's Random Musings said...

Jason / Kevin;

On the UK economy, I would make the following points.

The international evidence suggests that when conducting fiscal consolidation in modern states, the optimal mix of spending cuts and tax rises is 80/20. The coalition has (largely) delivered this, but they can (and should) be criticised for the wrong priorities.

Specifically, there should not have been the large cuts to infrastructure spending in the first years of the government, planning for new housing starts (esp. in London / SE) should've been pushed much harder, and the shape of the spending cuts could've been rather better.

For instance, like Ireland you could have cut the public sector pay bill by say 10% up front (nb bill, not wages of the lowest paid), which would have saved £bns whilst being fair with reference to the private sector.

Moreover, there should never have been a triple lock on pensions - prices or earnings were fine, but guaranteeing 2.5% increases irrespective of the economy was ridiculous. Moreover, universal pensioner freebies (bus passes, tv licences, winter fuel) cost £3bn a year, or FIVE TIMES what the bedroom tax / spare room subsidy yielded.

Similarly, pensioner bonds will cost £100m a year for five years for buying some Tory pensioner votes. Dreadful. And the 50% top marginal rate (actually, 52% and not the highest marginal rate in the income tax scales) was not in place long enough to work out how much it would've raised (not a lot, but some more cash.)

Where does that leave the UK economy? Well, there's good and bad.

The bad first: the skills and education of the workforce (and hence their productivity) still lags our EU competitors/peers. Infrastructure is of variable quality, but it is improving (though the PFIs are poor value for money). We need to do far more to spread the wealth effects of London / SE / Edinburgh / Aberdeen, but this is hard to do, and high speed rail is one of the few ways that actually achieves it. Commuting may not be glamorous, but it does spread the wealth effect in a way that regional economic policy has consistently failed to do so.

The good: first and foremost, we're in the EU, and will stay in the EU irrespective of UKIP's shouting and Tory incompetence. This, combined with an English speaking population, makes the UK a very attractive place for the world to do business in Europe.

More broadly, the UK has some world class sectors, and arguably the best entrepreneurial culture in western Europe. We have improving skills, we have some world class universities, and we are successfully attracting many of the world's best and brightest to come here (though the Tories get -50 points for their immigration policies). In London, we have a truly global city that as much as we may hate it, does provide a bounty for the rest of the UK. And the UK is a nice place to live, which is a key in attracting people (and in Joe Nye's terms, a key component of soft power.)

We can, should, and will do better. There are lots of tough decisions to be made in the next five years, but the medium term outlook with sensible policies is good. And as a liberal, compassionate polices are only compassionate if we can sustainably pay for them. Otherwise, they're a chimera.

Hope this helps, happy to discuss.

Martin said...

Jason,

"The performance of the Con/LibDem coalition has not been scrutinised nearly enough. "

You're absolutely right. However, a lot of time has had to be been spent instead on scrutinising the pros and cons of independence, time that maybe could have been better spent as you suggest. But when people like Campbell and BFS put their thumbs on the scale to try and make independence look a whole lot better than even the best data would suggest, we have to fight such inaccuracies lest they go unchallenged and become taken as accepted truth.

I'm sure Kevin would rather he didn't have to do this, but I'm extremely grateful that he has.

I'm Still Yes said...

How long do you think it'd take you to raise £45,000 in donations?

Kevin Hague said...

Dear "I'm Still Yes"

I'm aware there is no money to be made in trying to ensure facts aren't abused in political debate.

Cheers

jason hoffman said...

The best outcome of the referendum was the fact that the Scottish electorate engaged in politics again. Not only the huge turnout was great but the discussions, arguments and scrutiny that our economy, politics, society, national identity, national and international relationships, culture and everything in-between were all worthwhile. The decision might not have gone the way I wanted it too, but I value the process.

Unfortunately the uk has not had such a catalyst for these discussions. The may elections in themselves will not give rise to the same depth of discussion that occurred in scotland.

The outcome might though. The latest suggestion of a con/lab coalition is chilling. Does that mean the snp could be the main party of opposition if they won as many seats as projected ? Now that would be interesting!

There is an appetite for change in scotland and we're waiting for the rest of the uk to join in.

However, the media are more interested in Ukip than federalism. Ed millibands bacon eating is more newsworthy than the potential wipeout of Scottish Labour and the Scottish LibDems. Savaging poor people makes better copy than than growing gap between rich and poor.

Westminster is in need of change. They don't give a fuck about the electorate. Straw and rifkind are the latest example. There are many more.

As I keep saying, life is not just about money. Anyone who has been through a divorce will know that leaving a bad marriage does not make financial sense.

I'm not saying that union is a bad marriage, but even marriages of convenience need to be scrutinised from time to time.

Max Bennie said...

"The best outcome of the referendum was the fact that the Scottish electorate engaged in politics again" - Well I personally feel more disillusioned with politics as a direct result of the referendum and from looking at our elected "representatives" during this period.

jason hoffman said...

But you guys won :-)

Or did yo?

That was the trouble with better together. No plan for what happened after. Did you all really think that we'd all go through this process and carry on after a no vote as though nothing happened?

Anonymous said...

Jason - I was hoping that either side would accept the result of a democratic process regardless of the result. If Yes had managed to fool more than 50% of the votes, we'd have been locked into a process which we couldn't back out of.

Still, here we are and 'the 45' are unable to accept the result, making a total mockery of a democratic process, knowingly against against the sovereign will of the Scottish people.

The biggest complaint of Yes votes was the lack of democracy we had in Scotland (which is utter tripe) and in conclusion the actual problem is many do not understand what democracy is.

Nobody 'won'. It was a referendum.

The trouble with the Yes campaign is they attempted to blag figures to suit their numbers and thankfully people like Kev were happy to point people in the right direction. If you want to keep believing the lies that the Yes campaign (and the Rev, who only opens his mouth these days to change feet) spouted, that's fine. The GERs numbers are there to see for all who wish to view them. I fail to see what angle your comments are now coming from as Kev has put you straight at least half a dozen times and you still persist on feeding off lies that were spouted to you. If you were a 'at any cost' Yes voter, please have the decency to say so and save everyone the time in trying to talk sense into the stupid.

jason hoffman said...

What democratic process are the "45" as you call them making a mockery of exactly?

Most Yes people I know have accepted things and are moving on.

Next up is a general election in may. We are allowed to vote for whoever we like, I presume? If the snp candidates are democratically elected as MPs, then so be it. The people will have spoken.

There is a reason why SNP membership is approaching 100K. And a reason support for Scottish Labour is falling. People are making their own minds up and nobody is being cajoled or hoodwinked or brow-beaten into considering voting SNP. People want change.

Now, if the SNP gain a large number of MPs in Westminster, will it be undemocratic if they pursue their own agenda?

You might not like it but that's democracy. I didn't vote for the tories, but I got them.

And no I'm not a member of the snp.

And please anonymous, at least give me some respect for reading this blog, for asking questions, engaging and using my real name. I've not defended or endorsed WoS. I read his blog. And I'm reading this one too.

Is that a problem? Getting all angry at me for expressing a point of view you disagree with is not discussion.

Toby's Random Musings said...

Jason,

I'm glad you're here, and agree that the democratic jamboree of the referendum was exhilarating.

There's no doubt many people are fed up. Recession and a slow recovery with dreadful public finances are no fun, and the ability of the state to act is similarly circumscribed.

This is not to say nothing can be done or that all choices are morally equal, but any plans have to be grounded in some sort of fiscal reality. What is infuriating with the SNP, PC, Greens and UKIP is that they blithely ignore this and tie dissatisfaction to their principal constitutional agenda.

So it is perfectly reasonable to ask Nicola Sturgeon what she thinks the macro multiplier is if she wants to borrow £180bn more than the Labour party by 2020 in order to pay all this additional debt back. (Top tip: not (anything like) high enough.)

Similarly, Osborne (& Alexander) should answer for the decisions they've made, and how the Tories (in particular) make their maths add up in next Parliament (they probably don't, and the distributional impact would be severe).

But this is a call for a return to an educated populace focusing on difficult choices. Which is why the WBB's lies were so pernicious, and that this blog is invaluable.

Ron Sturrock said...

From the WBB page 64. I have commented, as far as I can ascertain, this is still within the current edition of the WBB.


Q: “But if Scotland didn’t accept any of the UK’s national debt, wouldn’t it be punished by the international markets? Why would anyone lend Scotland money?”
A: Because it’s not Scotland’s debt. Scotland had no say over it being taken out - it’s the UK government’s debt, the UK decided where to spend it and the UK has already accepted full liability for it [135]. If you’re living in a rented flat and the landlord defaults on his mortgage, YOU don’t get a bad credit rating.
Lenders don’t care in the least about the UK’s internal political wrangles - they lend based on whether they think they’ll get paid back or not, and Scotland is a wealthy country with plenty of security for any debt it took out. It would be a very low risk for any lender.
But as we explored in Chapter 2, an independent Scotland would be likely to need far less lending anyway, so even if it had to pay slightly higher interest on its borrowing it could afford to do so.

Suffice to say (politely), what a heap of hogwash for an answer.
This is in effect UDI, the ramifications of which should send chills up the spine of everyone, in effect this means no signed separation treaty with rUK.
The UK Treasury acts on behalf of all constituent countries, all are jointly and severably liable.
We share the mortgage,we don't live in a rented flat, (how much is a different argument).

If the requirement is for revenues and expenditures to balance, what cuts would be needed?

Don't believe me? then I suggest that if you disagree you write to N. Sturgeon or J. Swinney and ask them, or even the FCWG.

Worthy of a blog on its own.

Jason Hoffman said...

Ron, why are you going through the WBB six months after September? The referendum is done, we voted No and the Union continues.

It's funny to have former No-voters accuse former Yes-voters of living in the past and refusing to move on.

I have done. My focus is on the General Election in May, and the how this will affect Scotland.

So please stop harking on about the WBB. Even the Rev Stu is busy with other things like picking apart Scottish Labour's musings and the ever fun Daily Record and the Vow (that never was).

We have a big election in May that will have profound on us all. Why not focus on that and start focusing your critical gaze on our Westminster parties.

Ron Sturrock said...

Jason,

I will comment as I deem fit, and if our kind host publishes same it is fair for you to comment if you so wish.

The WBB is alive and well and is still available, this is what this thread about, and which has resulted in considerable comment outwith this blog.

The mood music in the background is that the Yes campaign is bubbling away.

Regardless of the outcome of the GE, the Smith Commssion will begin its parliamentary proces and you can be 100% certain that these fiscal topics amongst others will be well and truly scrutinised.

However the prospect remains that conditions may realise the SNP being in government with a resulting raising of the T&C's of the Smith commssion being substantially augmented, to perhaps FFA.

This topic is not going to go away IMO.

And yes, I agree 100% in commenting about the forthcoming GE policies are proposed by all parties, as and when they are fully published, probably within the next month.

As yet, it is not known if a refrendum call will be in the 2016 SNP manifesto, but it is only a year away.

So keeping the powder dry.

Max Bennie said...

How can the powder be kept dry when it has all been used?

Ron Sturrock said...

The powder has not all been used, just wait until the Smith Commission clauses go through parliament.

This rush to get the legislation enacted IMO will quite possibly lead to wranglings down the line.

e.g. There are already arguments over "detrimentals".

And, as I intimated the result and make up of the next government may have a further implications.

We can only wait and see.

I'm Still Yes said...

A survey after the referendum result showed that younger generations overwhelmingly voted Yes. Is it really fair that the very generation that caused a lot of today's problems for younger people then go and hold us back?

Jason Hoffman said...

Ron, I sincerely hope that the General Election does result in changes to the UK. We need change.

Tackling growing social inequality ought to be priority No.1. The disparity between rich and poor is not going to result in a happier nation in the next 10 to 20 years.

Doing something about this is more important than GDP growth; Scottish independence; religious radicalism; banks bonuses. Anything.

We live in a community of 60m people, whether we like it or not. We all work for the common good; we all contribute and we all should benefit from our society. So will need and use more; some will benefit more financially than others; and some will do more; others less. But we all should benefit more.

Westminster has not had a need to do anything about social change because no one has challenged them to. MPs are a law unto themselves - we see this time and again over expenses and cash for questions. They have no need to pursue a radical agenda because the electorate have not forced them to.

My biggest disappointment about the No vote was that the Yes campaign very much had social change as a central theme of their agenda for the future development of Scotland.

The fact that it didn't happen because some people got so wrapped up in the demand for minutiae of detail about every single part of how we were going to pay for it. The demand for details destroyed the big ideas.

New entrepreneurial businesses don't start up with someone coming up with all of the logistical solutions before finding some idea to wrap it around. You have the big idea first and then you make it work.

iScotland would not have been more of the same, or else I wouldn't have voted Yes.

So instead in the run up to the GE we are left with a choice (again) between two Unionist parties who have no ideology except ensuring that the don't alienate "middle England". The Tories know that Labour have to appeal to the conservative base to have a chance to rule. The vote in Scotland is largely irrelevant - we don't return Conservative MPs anymore. So Scotland is a bonus for Labour if they do well in England. Its England where the Westminster government will be formed. And English people have not had a cause to focus their minds - we had the referendum to get us talking. They have not.

Anyway, this brings me back to the point of this thread.

We need independent bloggers to counter-act the mainstream press. Every person who votes and all those teenagers who are nearing voting age should read and read widely. No-one should trust any one source of information.

This blog is not the "truth". Kevin has clearly done his homework on what the statistics say - the analyses are useful and I welcome his work. But he has an agenda - he is a clearly stated unionist. WoS have an agenda too - the Rev is clearly in favour of Scottish Independence. So are they both right? Or both wrong? Is one more right than the other? There is never a "right" answer to anything.

The mainstream media, especially the print media are Unionists bar two papers. The TV and radio news is biased to some; paragons of impartiality to others. They all have their own agendas and truth is not one of them. Interpretation yes, truth no.

The important thing is to read and read widely. And avoid Twitter. It's not a good source of information. Too shouty and too easy to get into stupid and pointless arguments.

Ron Sturrock said...

I'm still Yes,

One poll did say the young (16/17) voted more in favour of yes, based on a humungous sample of "14"

The polling also showed that those 55+ were predominantly "no"

Also consider that the 16/17 age group registered to vote was circa 100,000, as against a significant number of those registered in the age groups of 55/64 and 65+.

Here's a link to a Lord Ashcroft post referendum summary, a Tory peer he is, but one who is widely respected across the political spectrum.

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Lord-Ashcroft-Polls-Referendum-day-poll-summary-1409191.pdf

You will also note, if you read the link, as to issues resulting in a No vote, those in the 55+ groups recognised a "pig in a poke" when they saw one.

In all elections the 65's+ will always dwarf the 16/17's in terms of numbers. Admittedly this is more obvious when presented with a binary question.

In conclusion,
This reprehensible vilification of a particular age group who exercised their democratic right to vote as they wished does the yes campaign no favours at all.
However the main focus, instead of blaming others, is in considering the evidence of the polls of why it was a no vote.

Max Bennie said...

I'm surprised people are still hanging onto the myth that young people voted Yes. Closer analysis shows that all groups voted No. I'm a young person and I voted No. :-)

Ron Sturrock said...

From the SG Economic strategy published today.

A selection of paragraphs from page 80.

The Smith Commission recommendations are a step forward for Scotland. However, they remain modest and fall short of the powers that the Scottish Government believes are required to help deliver a fundamental change in Scotland’s economic performance and tackle rising inequality.

We have been clear that our priority is to secure the full powers that will enable the Scottish Parliament to be able to do what the Scottish people want it to do.

The Scottish Government’s priority over the next few years will therefore be to secure further economic powers to tailor policy to maximise the country’s strengths and address the specific challenges that we face

Whilst fiscal autonomy and responsibility for all domestic expenditure would enable the Scottish Parliament to respond more fully to the challenges and opportunities Scotland faces, of particular importanceis to secure powers for the Scottish Parliament which help both to boost competitiveness and tackle inequality.
---------------------------------

So what is FFA?

Will it mean the loss of Barnett? If so, there is commonality with UKIP on this source of revenue cut.

I would recommend that this months GERS issue revenue and expenditure numbers in value terms (not %ages) are scrutinised and understood.

Foreign affairs, defence and debt repayments will be deductibles.

SG will have to give guidelines on borrowing requirements subject to Treasury permission.
I would expect a max of 3% of GDP.

Looks like parliament will be interesting next term.

I'm Still Yes said...

After being told they'd lose their pensions I can see why the older generations votes No. Not only that but they also rely on newspapers for information, without sources, while the younger people are able to do research online and see exactly where certain pieces of information come from.

Certainly, they are entitled to their right to vote in whichever way they like. Is it not only fair that there is a balanced debate then and not a one sided attack on anything positive about independence? To have scared a lot of older people into thinking their pensions would be lost and their grandchildren would suffer unless they voted No is something to be ashamed of.

Young people did vote Yes, Max. Not everyone, but a majority did. They were outnumbered by older generations who were more likely to actually cast a vote. Younger people weren't happy putting up with the status quo and wanted positive change that can't be achieved by Westminster politics

Max Bennie said...

"the younger people are able to do research online and see exactly where certain pieces of information come from" - Hence why most of the voted No.

"To have scared a lot of older people into thinking their pensions would be lost and their grandchildren would suffer unless they voted No is something to be ashamed of." - Of course we would suffer. You don't need "scaremongering" to know that the SNP and co had no plan.

The majority of young people did not vote Yes. They're more intelligent than that. You cannot draw all your conclusions from a single discredited poll, and it just shows you haven't done your research. Young people are fed up with the status quo but that status quo includes the Scottish government trying to force this referendum on us. The dissatisfaction with the Establishment is aimed at them too. Young people like me want positive change that can't be achieved by Westminster or Holyrood politics, and certainly not by blind faith in a political agenda.

Terry Summers said...


I'm a 55+ in both senses and I think you are blinkered by your prejudices in thinking that the over 55's are unable to use the internet to research sources of information. It was my generation that developed an mainstreamed computer technologies and the internet.
Just to prove this to you and to gainsay your thesis that the young voted yes I offer you this information http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/referendum-survey-suggests-a-slender-majority-of-young-people-voted-no.25407723
Cheers
Terry
PS I'm still NO

Ron Sturock said...

I'm still yes.

Is that it? confirmation bias citing a trite generalisation?

The initial post referendum analysis (still academically ongoing) was more nuanced than that.

But if it helps you sleep at night, OK.

Andy Thompson said...

Re Max's post above:
If only every young voter had your outlook Max, I'd be more optimistic about the future of this country. I'm certainly concerned about the economic illiteracy of (what appears to be) a large number of my countrymen, and their willingness to believe anything, however discredited it may be.

I think many people voted Yes principally because there is a strong anti-establishment feeling at the moment (whipped up by the likes of the lying fake loony rev), with Yes sold as a panacea to austerity, poverty (relative of course), deprivation and I might as well throw in paedophilia as well.

Of course, the truth is there are no simple solutions to complex problems, any change is not necessarily better, and sometimes having something that's "good enough" is the pragmatic best option.

Not to say determined people shouldn't try and change things for the better, of course. But it needs to be couched in economic and political reality.

Max Bennie said...

Oh wow, thanks Andy! I'm genuinely moved. :-)

And you're right, independence was being sold under the false idea that it was a miracle cure for all ills, except that when you begin to scrutinise it, you find it really, really isn't. A bit like alternative medicine I suppose, or even faith healing - it sounds miraculous, even though any reasoned person can see it's a con.

The ever-present anti-establishment sentiment in society was hijacked by the SNP and the Yes campaign in order to push their agenda (although I do find it hard to understand how the SNP can manipluate this feeling when they're the party in government). If you want evidence, look at Peter A Bell's post above, who bought the lie hook line and sinker. Nuclear weapons was another big area - although their anti-nuke credentials are far less easy to take seriously when you learn that the Scottish government has been giving contracts to Lockheed-Martin, the company that makes Trident. So, er, make of that what you will.

jason hoffman said...

Yes, but what is economic and political reality?

Do you mean that Westminster is a self-serving elite, remote and totally disinterested in the electorate?

Is the uk economy working like a dream and are we all living in a land of milk and honey? It's funny how not many of us feel particularly well off.

Maybe if the media started doing their job and reporting on why the deficit is as unsustainable as it is. And why borrowing is as high as it is.And started tearing apart the coalition coalitions performance during their term.

But they collude with Westminster and prefer to focus on the easy news targets of benefit cheats, immigrants, cybernats and isis.

jason hoffman said...

Ok Max.

Define the ills in our society and give me your plan to fix them.

You didn't buy the yes campaigns. You don't think independence would make our society better. I get that.

So hit me with your plan.

Please do.

Is ed milliband the man to fix Britain? I wouldn't trust him with running a tuck shop. David Cameron? Tory fuck who cares nothing about ordinary people. Farage? Mentalist. The greens? Never. The LibDems? Sold their souls.

I don't see Westminster agitating for change. I see politicians with their snouts in the trough telling us we're all in this together.

Max, as the youthful future of the uk tell me where salvation lies.

I'm all ears.

Max Bennie said...

Why would I have a plan? Dammit Jim, I'm a marine science student, not an economist. (Sorry, couldn't resist! ;-) )

At the moment, there is no party that has the capability to make things better. The SNP are nationalists. The Conservatives are profiteers. Labour have no direction. The Liberal Democrats, god knows. The Greens are anti-science. UKIP are a racist anachronism. We will have to base our choice in May on whichever party we think is the least worst.
I don't see any area of British politics agitating for change. I, like you, see politicians with their snouts in the trough telling us we're all in this together.

No one has yet proposed any solution, and there is unlikely to be one on the horizon anytime soon.

jason hoffman said...

Well we agree on something Max. Welcome to the jaded populace...

I don't agree that change was impossible. We did have a chance to change the political landscape in September last year, but we didn't. So we move on.

What we did do though was open the lid on the suppression of thought, discussion and debate. Scottish people got engaged and stopped just taking our politics and media for granted. We got involved and took control. And it doesn't matter what "side" we're on and whether we believe in spending plans

But so far, most politicians and the mainstream media haven't got it yet. They don't understand that people want to debate. And people no longer take everything that the news tells them at face value.

QUESTION EVERYTHING!

and yes, max, you do have to have a plan. You're not allowed to not think or have beliefs.

In case you haven't see this clip of a speech by the actor Michael Sheen. Watch it!

http://youtu.be/XLMYgb7xs38


Ron Sturrock said...

Max,

What Marine Science discipline are you doing?

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

I'd seen the Sheen clip - I have to say I think this Response to Martin Sheen my Matthew D'Ancona is rather good.

Max Bennie said...

Hi Ron!

The course is a BSc in Marine Science. This encompasses biology, chemistry, physics and geology. If I want to, I can choose to go to Svalbard to so Arctic Studies in the later years, which would make it a BSc in Marine Science with Arctic Studies.

Max Bennie said...

I don't think we did have a chance to change the political landscape. What we didn't do in September was fullfil what looked an awful lot like a political agenda masquerading as a populist movement. Actually paying attention to politics for one made me more disillusioned with politics and more cynical of politicians than ever.

QUESTION EVERYTHING indeed! :-) Keep questioning!

Fantastic speech by Sheen, by the way!

jason hoffman said...

Kevin, I figured you say that. For every person who expresses an opinion, there is another to sneer back at them and say to them "what do they know, I KNOW best".

Kevin, you're very persuasive in your dissection of the snp economic policies but where is your strategy. It's too easy to rip someone else's work. But...

What DO you believe in? How would you do it if you were in charge?

Terry Summers said...

Jason,
Asking Kevin to come up with a better plan is like asking an art critic to paint a better painting than the artist the are critiquing.
It is also getting well of the track of the original blog subject , and may I say, slightly emotive. To point out factual error is not sneering.
Although I am sure this isn't the case, it could appear to some that you were trying to divert attention from the original subject.
Cheers
Terry

Kevin Hague said...

Jason

I'm not standing for election; I'm not asking you to cast your vote for me. If I was your question would be eminently reasonable.

I am listening to what the parties have to say and forming my own view as to who's policies make the most sense to me.

As you can see from my blog I decided I needed to understand Scotland's economy better to make an informed decision. I decided to share that work because I though others might find it useful.

In that process I have noticed a systematic tendency among some participants to misrepresent information - that they happen to be those arguing for Scottish Independence *might* be a coincidence.

I don't think there is a simple answer and I'm convinced (based on a fair degree of work and relevant personal experience) that independence or full fiscal autonomy would cause significant additional economic hardship in Scotland at least in the medium (10 year) term.

Given that (increasingly widely accepted) inevitable pain I think it's reasonable to ask those who argue for it to put more meat around the bones of what they'd actually do to make things better.

The SNP just published their economic strategy. There is not one single specific tax measure proposed. If you're arguing for fundamental constitutional change the burden of proof is yours.

Saying "well it couldn't be any worse" is not good enough and frankly incredibly naive.

I do think there are a list of interesting topics that might form the answer - to my eyes this requires some honesty about

1. Which costs will need to be cut and who will be affected?

2. Which taxes will be increased and who will end up paying more?

3. How - precisely - will we drive economic growth and reduce in-work-poverty

I think the super-rich should pay more tax - but I think realistically the middle classes will need to feel some tax pain too. I think the lowest paid in society should be protected from further taxation (in a way they haven't been in recent years)

I think in-work-poverty has to be addressed and that can only happen through progressive increases in the National Minimum Wage.

I think (of course) that real economic growth is essential to solving our economic problems - but I don't believe corporation tax cuts are the answer.

I think we need to encourage more entrepreneurial activity; I think we need businesses to engage more closely with their communities.

There are many more issues of course - these are complex topics that I will attempt to develop thoughts on through this blog.

I don't claim to have all the answers; I do claim to be willing to think critically about the options presented

jason hoffman said...

Kevin, thank you. That's a good answer.

Terry, threads develop. As they should. There is a reason why this thread has more comments than others. Because a discussion has broken out. woo hoo!

I'd personally like to see tax loopholes closed. I run a (small) business and pay my due. So should Amazon etc al. No excuses about numbers of employees who contribute to the economy. How many workers do you need to employ before hmrc treats you differently?

I'd like to see more money trickle down. So not taxing the rich more but paying them less - and paying workers more. Everyone should have access to a decent wage. Having top-up benefits for those in employment is madness. There needs to be a decent living wage.

Westminster needs to reform itself. No more part-time MPs. Do the job full-time on a salary commensurate with the responsibility of the role. Act as the representative of your constituency and not as a paid representative of big business.

There needs to be devolution of power to the regions - not just Scotland. There is no reason for so much control to be exerted by london.

And finally, everyone should take a role in developing our country - share the workload and share the benefits. We all have a right to better health; decent incomes; housing; social and health care and leisure time. And a pension as a thank you for your service.

Aspirational? Yep. Can it be funded? Why not? Who's going to lead this? None of the fuckers standing for Westminster anyway ;-)

Andy Thompson said...

Jason, you make some fair points. Far smarter guys than me have commented above, so I can't really add much else.

All I would say is that no country is perfect. Every single country in the world has it's establishment. As Max mentioned above, so indeed does Scotland. I don't know if the UK's is significantly worse than most other places, I think it's sometimes blown out of proportion to what really matters to most people - the wider economy and jobs.

The UK as it stands - is it really that bad? The Indy side are as guilty of negativity towards the UK as the pro-UK side are the other way. A functioning single market/currency union, where sometimes we give and sometimes we take. An NHS to be proud of, despite it's faults. Democracy - UK, Scottish, European, Council elections, Scottish referendum, AV referendum, all free and fair.

Finally, I'm as concerned about some of the more insidious policies of the SNP (named persons!) than I've been about most of what the Tories have done.

Anyway, I digress. Thanks for engaging - your attitude was thankfully more conciliatory than some.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Kevin as ever.

As for the nats......don't let the b'stards grind you down.

jason hoffman said...

So, what do you make of this from Max Hastings? Where does Scotland fit into the Uk (ie England's) thought process?

For me, if the SNP win a lot of seats in Westminster, that is democracy speaking. Or are the majority of us Scots deluded and incapable of rational thought. Do we need to conquered again and subjugated by England?

Personally, I'm quite insulted by this article. I thought by being in a Union, we all get a say. We share and we all benefit. Isn't that what Better Together was all about. So we're all being good unionists and choosing our Westminster representatives. Are those planning on voting snp doing something wrong that we ought to be made aware of?

https://archive.today/dHA00

Anonymous said...

Guessing the article is the one posted on the mail online site, if so you merely show your pettiness (a common trait in amp support) in not liking to the article directly.

Now on the article other then the headline and the last paragraph which are slightly demeaning, it is a well thought out and presented argument, that I really can't see your problem with.

Ron Sturrock said...

Jason,

You have to begin with the "Raison D'etre" of the SNP.

I agree if they win a considerable number of seats they have the right to participate. But what form will this participation take? Is it to be constructive or destructive?

It is quite clear that the SNP intend to harry Westminster for more powers over and above those in the Smith Commission.
Do you not think there will be a knock on effect as regards Wales & Northern Ireland (NI have been given the OK to reduce CT to 12.5%)
As recent as November A. Salmond said, if elected as an MP, what his goal was and if not satisfied, that we could take matters into our hands. i.e UDI.
Augurs well doesn't it!
As the saying goes "be careful what you wish for"

Not quite sure what your "conquered and subjugated" comment applies to?

So you were insulted by Max Hasting's article, are you forgetting the yes supporters jibes of "traitors" "unpatriotic" "coffin dodgers" and quite a few choice epithets hurled at those who voted no.

BTW, will the SNP be sending delegates to the spring conferences of their prospective progressive partners, not forgetting the EDL?

Ron Sturrock said...

From the OBR report Dec. 14 (probably to be updated around the budget)

Oil and Gas Forecast:
Price 14/15 $100.6, 2015/16 $83.1, 2016/17 $86.1, 2017/18 $86.5, 2018/19 $86.5, 2019/20 $86.5.
These are the DECC central projections.

As %age of GDP & Tax
2014/15 0.2% & £2.3bn, 2015/16 0.1% & £1.7bn, 2016/17 0.1% & £1.8bn, 2017/18 0.1% & £1.6bn, 2018/19 0.1% & £2.1bn, 2019/20 0.1% & £1.7bn.

Interestingly outpout Million tonnes:
2014/15 60.9, 2015/16 53.1, 2016/17 55.1, 2017/18 55.3, 2018/19 55.1, 2-019/20 56.8.

Of course they are only forecasts and we know accurate they are.

jason hoffman said...

The English Defence League? Are you you honestly saying the snp are linked to these fascists? if you want to have a reasoned discussion, be sensible. Please.

Max Hastings described them as Stalinsts.

So what are the SNP?

As for what the snp will do with these springs conferences, I have no idea. I'm not a member.

I don't like your language "harrying parliament " "destructive " that you use.

I'm sure the snp will be as politically professional as every other party in Westminster. If there is to be a coalition or agreement, there will be concessions.

It's how it works.

jason hoffman said...

Mr anonymous.

Please post using your name, especially if you're going to make snide comments about me. If you're going to insult someone, have the good grace to put your name to it.

I don't know why the hot link did not work but rest assured that it was not because of being a dastardly Nat (I almost called myself a Cybernat there!). It was instead a error on my part.

As to the max Hastings article, I'd be really keen to understand which bits you thought were well reasoned. For a historian known for writing well researched books, this article is full of personal prejudices against the Scots, Scotland, socialism, labour, the snp, the intelligence of the electorate, democratic process and pretty much everything in-between. IMO.

jason hoffman said...

A friend just sent me this. I'd forgotten just how much David Cameron loves us Scots. Maybe Max Hastings should have reread this too, before writing his bile filled piece.

So they love us, we're a family, but just don't vote for anything that will diminish the union. Right, got that.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2749933/Don-t-rip-family-apart-Cameron-gets-passionate-Union-highly-personal-article-Mail-warns-no-going-Yes-vote-wins.html

Yay! I've managed to post a hotlink...must keep Mr Anonymous happy...

Ron Sturock said...

Sincerest apologies to all.

It was the English Democrats not the EDL.

Ron Sturock said...

Sincerest apologies to all.

It was the English Democrats not the EDL.

Ron Sturrock said...

Beow is the outline of the SNP comment in the "Future Government Spending " debate on Wednesday.
You can view via Hansard, this and other comments.


HoC 04.03.25
Stewart Hosie: I am sorry; I have given way already, and we are time-limited.
The motion also calls for a programme to get the current account into surplus and to get the national debt falling as a share of GDP as soon as possible. In principle, I agree with that, but my party wants to see an
4 Mar 2015 : Column 1013
explicit end to austerity because, as the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex) pointed out, people have suffered enough already. That is why we have set out a plan for a modest real-terms increase in departmental spending that would deliver £180 billion of investment in the next Parliament. Our plan would result in the deficit coming down, from 3.4% to 3%, 2.5% and 2.1% of GDP from 2016-17. It is a plan that would see the national debt fall as a share of GDP, albeit on a different, more shallow trajectory. It is a plan that would in the first year, 2016-17, not see £23 billion of extra Tory-Liberal cuts, but £25 billion of investment. We think that is extremely sensible, and it ties in to what the Chief Secretary said about active government and what difference that and the Government’s investment can make.
--------------------------------------

I understand the SNP proposal for annual departmental spending increases are 0.5%, which departments these are I do not now.

From 2016/17 the OBR growth forecasts are:
16/17 2.2%, 17/18 2.4%, 18/19 2.3%, 19/20 2.3%.

Coalition borrowing forecast:
15/16 £75.2bn, 16/17 £44.5, 17/18 £16.5, 18/19 -£4.8.

As always these figures come with a health warning, but they do show the intended travel of particular party.



Ron Sturrock said...

Kevin & Jason,

Re your comments on taxation in general.

I never really thought about it until I saw (quite a few years ago) the inscription on the IRS building in Washington:

"Taxes are what we pay for a civilised society"

The question always, how much taxation will the public readily accept? Will the public ever say "enough is enough?"

The super rich, don't most of them live in tax havens already?
How are you going to get more tax from them?

In work tax credits, beggars belief that this happens, I see a proposal to offer employers tax relief if they raise their wages.
That is just recycling the same money which has to come from somewhere.
You guys are in business so I guess you have views if you have employees. Not that I imagine you are paying minimum wage.

The personal allowance, IMO, should be raised at a faster rate to equal the minimum wage level in force at that time.
If you have the qualifying years the state pension pension should be increased to the minimum wage and pro-rata.
These would, if feasible, take a long time to come into effect.

Tax avoidance, this is catch all phrase for a subject which is partially dealt with in the HMRC "tax gap" publication. Currently the tax gap is £34bn totalled from various activities so read the document.
We have tax avoidance and evasion.
Evasion we know is illegal.
However, avoidance in my view, should be redesignated into 2 components, intended and aggresive.
It strikes me as ludicrous that the big accountancy firms help to formulate the tax rules, and are then able to advise their clients of the loopholes. That they also have secondees in the political parties is another iyem that should be stopped.

Tha Amazons of this world are operating within the rules, IMO, changing the CT rules etc cannot be done in isolation, it has been a topic at various "G" whatever meetings.
It does not help that Luxembourg, who I undertand are the main beneficiary, are allowed to operate this system of financial benefit.
The EU say they are looking into this, but what do the EU and Luxembourg have in common!

As for MP extra jobs, I am not against professionals who have maintain hours etc to retain their qualifications.
What about MP's who write books, do after dinner speaking, appear on TV shows, will this be verboten?
Are you expecting your MP to work 24/7?
It has been suggested that the American system of a cap be introduced, but this would probably mean MP being paid a higher basic.

So may questions and precious few answers.

Anonymous said...

I will post under whatever username I wish to thank you. You can take pettiness to heart, or you can realise it is merely how I perceive you linking a archive rather then the mail itself as to deprive them of hits and revenue.

I read the article, and the message is entirely understandable, and it didn't get my blood boiling. What you have to see is England is not represented other then at Westminster, and the snp merely want to cause division or as much damage as they can.

jason hoffman said...

Mr anonymous, for the record I linked to the article I saw posted on FB. I don't read the daily mail and have no reason to. On the other hand I am not petty enough to deny them revenue for clicks. I'm sure the daily mail will be getting plenty of hits today.

I was just posting a link.

The article clearly shows the English viewpoint espoused by many that England =Britain = UK. scotland is Scotland, which is part of the Uk, but is not the UK, unlike England which is.

And that is why the Max Hastings of the England are scared. They told us in Scotland during the referendum that we're an integral part of the union, but in reality they don't want us to participate. Not really. And they are shit scared of the snp because they cannot control them nor the direction they're likely to take us.

Anonymous said...

The link you gave clearly indicates the mail , it would not be to much effort to link the original so still petty.

Have read the article again and nowhere does it make referance to England = UK. What you have is a right of centre paper doing a rallying call for a right of centre party. Absolutely nothing to get worked up about. Or even read, which I have done twice now.

Steve Jayburn said...

I think one thing in all of this needs to be made clear - there's nothing about supporting independence that means you automatically have to ignore (or distort) the Scottish Government's own figures on our basic fiscal position. There are plenty of people who support independence and don't do this.

What we see from people like Stuart Campbell and others is a completely different thing. They no doubt believe in independence for its own sake, but they've chosen to intentionally obscure the figures simply because it suits their argument. It's basically what happens when you adopt over the top online personas: you can never concede a point so your argument becomes increasingly outlandish simply to avoid backing down.

So we end up having pointless arguments about what anyone can see is true if they just log on to the Scottish Government's website and type the letters "GERS" into the search box. You almost get the impression at times that the more fervently one believes in independence the less likely they are to accept basic facts and figures - instead they simply hide behind obfuscation and personal abuse.

There's no "debate" about whether the quoted paragraph from the Wee Blue Book is wrong. Anyone who just looks up the GERS reports from which it's based can see it's wrong. What's more interesting is why so many people seem to think that simply attacking the person who points out an error immediately makes the error disappear.

Jason Hoffman said...

Are the figures that the Another Angry Voice blogger posted about George Osbourne's performance as Chancellor "wrong" too?

He claims they come from the OBR, so they must be "right". But since AAV is clearly a critic of Westminster and especially the Tories, and is also pro-independence, then I guess he must be "wrong".

Sigh. It's just so confusing. I don't know who to believe these days...

http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/george-osborne-failure-public-trust.html

Now, hopefully I have posted the hot link correctly this time. I'm sure my admirer, Mr Anonymous will be along so to tell me otherwise...

Anonymous said...

Ah blessed petty nats, always wanting approval off of someone.

I am no fan of Osborne, but the article comes across as a rant rather then scrutiny. The Tories have not kept there promises, but if you want to leave a future for your children that means the deficit and indeed the debt need to be dealt with.

Borrowing 180 billion to buy votes should be considered unacceptable, and anti austerity rallies should be seen as I want free stuff rallies.

jason hoffman said...

Mr/Ms/ etc Anonymous, do you really think any party can buy votes? Talk about doing down the electorate.

I'm not voting snp in may because I'm being bought. I'm voting snp because the unionist parties have proven themselves to be incapable of understanding the needs of my country.

It's nothing to do with tax bribes or or putting money in my pocket. Fuck, I'd vote Tory if I thought my local MP would best represent me and the party would do the best job for Scotland and the uk.

And your attempts to paint Nats as petty etc etc is a down to a lack of understanding of a huge proportion of the electorate. We're way more intelligent and sophisticated to be written off with a sniffy one-line. You must try harder.

I totally agree that the deficit and national debt need sorting. Saying the coalition has not kept their promises though is the understatement of the Year! How about have proven themselves incapable. However, that's no reason not to give them another 5 years years now is it?

Anonymous said...

It is not just the amp who buy votes, but yes the electorate are and have been dumb enough to have their votes bought. Anti austerity is basically promising free money.

Anonymous said...


It appears the "Reverend" isn't even a reverend at all and may inadvertently help helped a sentenced fraudster via an online fundraising...what a farce.

Even Hannah Bardell rushing to hand over funds, do they people (MP's) beleive anything they read on a dodgy website ?

https://ahdinnaeken.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/exclusive-fake-reverend-exposed-as-self-serving-sham/

The dodgy Fundraising event raises even more concerns about the websites credibility and its editors ...which tbh weren't that credible to most sane people anyway.

https://ahdinnaeken.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/exclusive-wings-over-scotlands-philanthropy-set-to-implode/

seems Wings over Scotland is being investigated too ? "The Labour for Independence and Wings Over Scotland files were handed to the Crown Office. It is still reviewing the Wings Over Scotland case and it refused to comment on its progress" http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/may/14/labour-for-independence-yes-camhttps://ahdinnaeken.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/exclusive-wings-over-scotlands-philanthropy-set-to-implode/paign-investigated-failing-file-accounts-scotland