Category Archives: Scottish Independence

Hard border mainland UK

Borders, NoB orders and Brexit

Hard borders, soft borders, no borders, we’ve heard it all. There has been much debate about which type of border would exist between a post Brexit Scotland and England in the event of Scotland being able to avoid sinking, along with the rest of the UK, into an insular little xenophobic fug with post-imperialistic tendencies. There are various permutations of the argument but we know that the British parties and their “Scottish” stooges will always plum for the most extreme variation in order to scare people into complying with their way of thinking. So lets take a look at that extreme option.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a hefty margin, of course the democratic will of the Scottish people matters naught to the British Fundamentalist so they insist that Scotland retains its chains to the sinking ship Britannia and we’ll all sing Jerusalem as we descend to the bottom of the North Sea amid glorious waves of red, white and blue. But let’s assume that Scotland somehow manages to retain her full EU membership (or something very close to it). This option could probably only be achieved with full independence since there is no political will on the part of the British Fundamentalists to do otherwise. They know best you see, just get back into your tartan shortbread tin Scotland.

The British Fundamentalists tell us that a hard border would exist between Scotland and England so we would should really understand what a hard border looks like. First up is the Irish border as it used to look during the euphemistically named “troubles”.

A watchtower on the Irish border

A watchtower on the Irish border

The border itself was very porous with no actual fence or wall dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland. There were roadblocks and checkpoints, watchtowers positioned at strategic points and armed soldiers manning them all. This was a hard border. It existed between two EU member states. It blocked the movement of goods, people and services and damaged both countries economies.

The next border is another hard border, more extreme than the last one. It is the former Inner German Border which used to exist back in the days of the Cold War. I used to patrol it and it was scary, it looked like this:

Inner German border

Inner German border

There were walls, anti-vehicle ditches, mine fields (the ploughed strip above), fences, war dogs on running leashes, watch towers, armed troops and all manner of listening and observation devices. The main difference between this border and the former Irish border was that this one was designed to keep people in, not out. I like to think that this would be the type of border that would exist between England and Scotland, one which is designed to keep the poor little Englanders in since they all aspire to get into the prosperous Scotland which stayed in the EU, well maybe not.

The fact is that all borders are artificial constructs, animals and birds do not respect borders. They are by human beings, for human beings. Designed to keep human beings on one side or the other. They exist only by the will of man.

So would this type of border exist between a post Brexit England and an European Scotland? If it did it would be an extension of the English southern border. It would be an English construct since Scotland neither needs nor wants one. The only people who would want one are the UKIPpers and their Daily Express reading followers who have been fed a constant diet of the dangerous migrants and glorious Britain with its smashing Empire. It would be the border between what remains of the UK and the EU/EEA. If rUK made it difficult at one point the EU would make it difficult at all points.  If rUK made it difficult to cross from Scotland within the EU/EEA into rUK then the EU would make it difficult to cross from all EU ports into rUK. For this reason sanity dictates that it would never happen (assuming some sanity still exists in this world).

Now our Tory Brexiteers insist that there would not be a hard border between a post Brexit Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. No real border exists there now and that’s the way that most people on the emerald isle want it to stay. So how can that be? How can Northern Ireland remain within the UK and have no borders with the Republic of Ireland? Well here’s how:

Hard border mainland UK

Hard border mainland UK

The border would exist around mainland UK! Taking us back to dark days of WWII. If you want to travel around the UK you will have to show your papers. Fancy jumping on a ferry to Larne? You’re going to need your passport. Live in Belfast and want to sell those goods to mainland UK? You’re going to have to pay customs duties and fill in lots of paperwork. This is the reality which awaits Northern Ireland and its soft border with the Republic of Ireland, the hard border will exist but it will be on the mainland.

So to sum up, no hard border will exist between Scotland and England whether or not Scotland retains EU membership or not. If NI remains part of UK it will have a hard border at the UK mainland and no border to speak of with the Republic of Ireland, but if NI remains within the EU it won’t have a border at all. Got it?

Smackeroonis

The Seven P’s

Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So went the acronym so beloved of military instructors as they regaled their students with the importance of being prepared for as many eventualities as they could think of. They were absolutely correct and we need to be prepared for the upcoming maelstrom created by the EU referendum and today’s announcement, by the First Minister, of a draft bill for a second Scottish independence referendum. I don’t have a crystal ball but I don’t need one to see some of what comes next. I’ll try to be as logical as I can, but there is not much logic around at the moment so please forgive me if I seem to go off at a tangent here and there.

It’s the economy stupid

The UK economy is in the first stages of what will probably be viewed as the most severe depression ever. The vote to leave the EU caught the UK government with its pants down and exposed its utter complacency in assuming a No vote. Now we are drifting along the river Brexit with no navigator and no means to propel towards any particular destination even if we knew where we wanted to go. The reality of our desperate situation is slowly dawning on the currency markets and they have been dropping the pound as if they have suddenly realised that they are holding a turd (which they are).

The resulting sell off has seen the pound dredge some entirely depths not seen for 168 years according to the FT.

pound-to-euro-13oct16

Pound to Euro 13Oct16 (Graph courtesy of http://www.xe.com)

The fall against the Euro, our biggest market, is bad enough. But it’s the fall against the US dollar which is more alarming:

Pound to Dollar 13oct16

Pound to Dollar 13Oct16 (Graph courtesy of http://www.xe.com)

Since all commodities are priced in dollars the recent falls in the pound/dollar exchange rate are going to push the prices of everything up, the Marmite/Unilever issue is just the tip of the iceberg (Unilever wanted to increase prices by 10%). This will feed through into the inflation figures in around 6 months time and the Bank of England will be under severe pressure to increase interest rates. For an economy which is hooked on cheap money this will be very damaging, can you afford a 5% increase in your mortgage rate? Now would be a very good time to reassess your situation and maybe lock in a fixed rate for a while.

Meanwhile the price of oil has been increasing, $52 per barrel as I write this. This will push the price of everything up and therefore increase inflation as well.

Oil price 12 months 13Oct16

Oil price 12 months 13Oct16 (Graph courtesy of BBC)

Coupled with that are the negative yields on government bonds, or gilts as they are known. Effectively the government is being paid to borrow money! This can’t last of course. Once the financial markets look at the levels of UK debt and the potential for the UK to pay that money back, they’re going to want a better yield for the increased risk. This means that the bond prices will fall from their current highs and the respective yields will increase. It is these yields which drive the longer term interest rate. So the Bank of England will be forced to raise interest rates sooner than it wishes.

In short the UK economy is about to suffer a severe downturn, which will make the tired old economic arguments against Scottish independence look weak at best. The economic argument was the most potent weapon wielded by the despicable Project Fear during the first independence referendum but it will become one of our best arguments for independence very soon.

I don’t particularly like the economic argument, for me independence is a normal state of affairs for a country and having the opportunity to fashion our country in the way we wish it is all the argument I need. However we will need every advantage that we can get in order to counter the British state so I will be thankful that the economic argument will be in our favour.

The Brexit vote will allow us to be able to deploy such arguments as:

  1. UK drowning in a sea of debt (which can’t be serviced and a default is imminent)
  2. Big business deserting the UK for the EU
  3. Huge job losses
  4. Massive, and increasing, wealth inequality
  5. Huge hikes in taxation and reductions in public spending
  6. Big reductions in international investments

The bust will be painful, but as an opportunity to counter Project Fear it must be seized.

Currency

The next most potent argument wielded by that ermine socialist Alistair Darling was the currency question. The Tories of all hues gloated that we couldn’t use our own currency post independence. The argument was a straw man, as fallacious as it was arrogant. But the pound is now in free fall and if it carries on then the Smakaroonis could well be considered a reserve currency in comparison.

Smackeroonis

Smackeroonis

The fatal flaw in the currency union argument, even though it was sound and the best solution for Scotland and rUK, was that it gave the initiative to the UK government who ruthlessly exploited it. We cannot allow this to happen again.

For me the only way to answer the currency question is for us to have a pound Scots. A free floating currency would be preferable, however it would probably be necessary for there to be a peg during the currency’s infancy for stability. This MUST NOT be a peg to the pound sterling because this would hand at least some of the initiative back to Westminster. A peg to the Euro, the US dollar, or preferably a basket of currencies would be my solution.

A little known fact is that for every Scottish pound in existence there exists an equivalent pound sterling lodged with the Bank of England. In 2007 there were just over a billion Scottish notes in circulation and an equivalent lodged with the Bank of England. We would be having these assets back of course, they would be a useful deposit for starting our own central bank.

The weakness in the currency argument is that we may be required to use the Euro. However if we can retain our current membership conditions this wouldn’t be a problem. But I expect the forces of darkness will relentlessly pursue this line, perhaps our friends in the EU can help?

You can’t have a referendum!

I can just picture Her Majesty Queen May standing outside No. 10 telling us Scots that we cannot have a referendum as she wields the royal prerogative against democracy again. I see this discussion being had already but it is unlikely to come to pass. The main reason being that we gave the SNP all the mandate they needed to hold one when we re-elected them. It was in their manifesto and all they are doing is keeping their promise, just like the Tories kept their promise to hold an EU referendum.

Of course the power to hold a binding referendum is reserved to Westminster, it was temporarily devolved for the first independence referendum by the Edinburgh Agreement. So theoretically the UK government could withhold the power. This is unlikely to happen because it would play sweetly into the hands of the SNP who would wield the “denying democracy” argument with devastating effect. Can you imagine the outrage if we were to be told by the Viceroy of Scotland that we couldn’t have democracy?

The Scottish government could hold a non-binding referendum any time they choose, there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament so the bill would be passed. This would allow the Scottish government to hold the referendum free of the constraints of Westminster. Can you imagine the UK government allowing a referendum to happen which they had no control over? Not a chance.

So I think it highly unlikely that the Tories will block a second referendum.

We need to prepare, for the time is short. I will endeavour to ponder more imponderables soon, but it’s late and I have an exam tomorrow, so it’s Bon Soiree.

For the victims of the George Square tragedy, their families and friends

O God of Earth and Altar

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

This is the opening verse of the hymn by GK Chesterton which I thought was quite apt for my recent experiences, and probably yours too, out there in the rough and tumble of social media land. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any aspirations to take the cloth. This is also the first verse of the song “Revelations” by Iron Maiden, not everyone’s cup of tea I know but I like them. Rather amusingly my 9-year-old daughter asked me during the guitar solo, “Is this the intro?” I had to explain what a guitar solo was, she refers to my tastes as “Auld manny music.” I guess I can’t really argue with her there.

I can’t really argue with the gloating Unionists as they revel in the dropping oil price either. You’ve probably encountered a few of late, the standard refrain is that an independent Scotland would be sunk without the revenues from the oil and gas industry to support her economy. I have to agree, the oil and gas revenues may have made up almost 10% of an independent Scotland’s economy. My standard retort is that Scotland would not be independent at this point, however I really am spitting in the wind. They’re right and they know it.

But the gloating shows one thing, they have not got over the Independence Referendum. They are still going over the arguments showing how right they were, but as the saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different.”  It’s almost as if they don’t know that they won. Some of the Yes voters try to reply with the same arguments that were made during the referendum campaign, they are heading for insanity also.

The case that was made for independence was too weak in too many areas to convince the majority of voters to vote Yes. The main areas of weakness were, in my opinion, the currency, the volatility of oil and pensions. There were other areas too but it is noticeable that the arguments still revolve around these main issues.

It is a testament to the power of the mainstream media (MSM) that we are still making these arguments. They successfully constrained the terms of the debate and focused it on to the weak areas. It wasn’t pretty but it worked. The cost of the Better Together campaign is still being counted, I’m not talking about the monetary cost here I’m talking about the damage to the British state and the establishment which benefits most from it.

The organisation which is most badly damaged is the BBC. They have shown us that they are the government’s mouthpiece and all the fine talk of impartiality in their charter has been proven to be false. They will never be trusted by Yes voters, and quite a few No voters, again. None of the other media outlets covered themselves in glory either but they were forced to show themselves and what they stand for and now we know what we are up against.

The MSM, and especially the BBC, are still showing their bias. This time in favour of Jim Murphy who is given as much air time as he wants. It’s almost as if they consider him to be the Messiah who has come to save the British state. That he is Westminster’s man in Scotland there can be no doubt, regardless of the independence from UK Labour which he declares. My reading of the Labour Rule Book 2013 is that any changes to the rules, for instance different policies in Scotland from rUK, would have to be agreed to by the NEC and voted on at conference. Neither of which has happened yet.

The fact is Jim Murphy is a puppet of UK Labour and by extension the British state. For the sake of my voice I have given up shouting at the TV when he is being interviewed, the questions that should be asked aren’t and the evasions are allowed to pass. Andrew Neil please take note.

So what’s to be done? As the hymn goes, “The swords of scorn divide us,” and this is true. Rather than continue shouting at the Unionists, which is like beating our heads against a wall, we need to accept that we are going to have to work from within the British state. We cannot have independence now, we are going to have to move towards it in stages. The first, and most important, stage is to elect a phalanx of pro-independence MPs to Westminster. As things stand this means voting for the SNP. I know a lot of Yes voters don’t like the SNP but if you want to move towards independence then they are the only sane choice. We have to keep the energy of the Yes campaign going throughout the General Election campaign.

We also have to engage the Unionists, especially the natural Labour voters. We have to persuade them that if they want a constitutional settlement which is better for Scotland, and by extension the rUK, then they too should vote for SNP. Voting for any of the UK parties is a vote for the status quo, business as usual, same old same old. A vote for any of the UK parties is a vote for more austerity, more privilege, more cover ups and more illegal wars. In short we have to work together to achieve our common goals, like we did throughout the Yes campaign.

In the words of Iron Maiden in the song “Revelations”:

Bind all of us together,
Ablaze with Hope and Free,
No storm or heavy weather
Will rock the boat you’ll see.
The time has come to close your eyes
And still the wind and rain,
For the one who will be King
Is the Watcher in the Ring.
It is You.
It is You.

Dedicated to the victims of the George Square tragedy, their families and friends.

For the victims of the George Square tragedy, their families and friends

For the victims of the George Square tragedy, their families and friends

Posh Tories

From EVEL to Independence

There’s an interesting piece in the Tory press tomorrow which is titled, “Ban Scottish MPs from becoming Chancellor, Tory MPs demand.” Just think about that for a minute, if these plans go ahead Scotland would never have a man in the UK Treasury again. Even though we would still be a part of the UK. But, why stop there? UKIP’s Nigel Farage said, “Ultimately if you can’t have people voting on English laws then you can’t have them holding senior office either.” I’m sure he speaks for a lot of other MPs too.

So that would mean that no Scottish MP would ever hold a position of authority in the UK Parliament ever again. How do you feel about that Scotland? Does that sound like representative politics to you? We would end up as second class citizens even though we pay the same rates of taxes. We would never have a voice at the top table of politics in this land. We would be unable to have any influence upon any decisions which directly affect our lives.

In more briefing of the Tory press apparently the Tories are pledging to stop Scottish MPs from voting on  English taxes, even though those decisions will directly affect the funding to the Scottish Government via the Barnett formula. It is clear that the Tories are ramping up the rhetoric over EVEL but they have not considered the effects on Scottish people, they are playing to an English audience.

Posh Tories

Posh Tories

So what are those effects? My prediction is that the people of Scotland will see each move against the voting rights and the rights to hold office in the UK Parliament as an affront. They will be disgusted with the rewards of voting to remain within the UK. They will move towards Yes and they will clamour for another referendum, which the Yes side would probably win.

But all of this is speculation. None of these things will happen if the Tories, of whichever flavour, don’t retain power in the next general election which would be a good reason not to vote for them or their cronies. But they will get in eventually, such is the joy of the two party political system in Westminster. What then?

Brokenvow Sign

So It’s Devo F*&k All Then

The Smith Commission has given it’s considered views on which powers should be granted to the Scottish Parliament. That’s all well and good but these proposals fall somewhat short of the mark, they amount to nothing in reality (apart from full control of road signs). Oh how Unionists must be laughing at their cocaine and whore parties tonight.

Brokenvow Sign

Brokenvow Sign

The Smith Commission Report is available here. The ins and outs of this report will be pored over for some time I’d imagine, with Unionists giving us all the “Vow Delivered” clap trap and “Now the Scottish Government must tell us how it’s going to use these significant new powers.” The simple fact is that although some new powers are being offered they all come with caveats. If the Scottish Government makes efficiency savings in one area and saves some cash, then the block grant from Westminster will be cut. If the Scottish Government chooses to use some devolved power which costs a bit more, the money will have to be found from within the existing block grant.

The most striking part of the report for me is in paragraph 76 which says, “Within this framework, the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set the rates of Income Tax and the thresholds at which these are paid for the non-savings and non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers.” Which means that the Scottish Government can tax the workers, but not the rich. That’s a nice touch of Tory there.

 

Duncan McPhee Says No Thanks

How Do You Feel Duncan McPhee?

Duncan McPhee is (or was) the Unite Shop Steward at the BAE Systems Scotstoun yard. During the run up to the referendum he went on Sky News with his Unite Shop Steward chums and came out in favour of a No vote warning that 10000 jobs could be lost if Scotland voted Yes. He even appeared on a No Thanks Poster:

Duncan McPhee Says No Thanks

Duncan McPhee Says No Thanks

He even visited the Imperial Masters down south: this from the Scottish Affairs Committee:

The Type 26 frigate contract represents the final part of the Terms of Business Agreement between BAE Systems and the MoD. (We discuss the TOBA more fully below.) Duncan McPhee, Unite Shop Steward, BAE Systems, Scotstoun, gave evidence to the Committee following a meeting between the shipbuilding unions and Peter Luff MP, Minister responsible for procurement at the MoD. Mr McPhee said:

The specific question that was asked to get the UK Government’s position on this was, “In an independent Scotland will we be allowed to tender for the contracts?” It was made quite clear that we would not because we will be a foreign country. I believe that under article 346, if they [the MoD] were considering placing that order in a foreign country, it would have to be opened up EU-wide and possibly worldwide. […] That, to me, would mean that, unless an independent Scottish Government could provide equivalent-type orders, we would be greatly reduced or completely finished as a shipbuilding industry.

The other Shop Stewards were Henry Wilson and Tam Mitchell. Henry also works for BAE Systems and Tam works for Rolls Royce, who recently announced 2600 job cuts.

Here is what Ian King, Chief Executive of BAE Systems had to say during the referendum campaign, “This shows clearly that, as we have previously stated, the only guarantee for the future of shipbuilding on the Clyde is for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.”

Changed days then readers. For now we find out that the Type 26 frigates could be built elsewhere. Maybe even not built at all.

So how do you feel about Duncan McPhee now? What about the union he, and his chums, represent? Do you still think it’s a good idea to pay them a subscription, knowing that they pay for the Labour Party?

 

Keep Calm Learn Your Command Words

The UK Government Commands

The government has issued its commands to the Smith Commission today, and what a right riveting read it is too. The “Command Paper” was published to “set out the range of proposals that have been made on further devolution.” So what’s it all about?

In a nutshell it re-iterates the main Unionist parties’ preferred options for further devolution to the Scottish Parliament.  Can you remember what went down before the referendum? Each of the main Unionist parties had a wee bit of a get together and , between the champers and caviar, came up with a range of proposals. They then published them:

Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party: Commission on the Future Governance of Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrats: Federalism: the best future for Scotland

Scottish Labour Party: Powers for a purpose – Strengthening Accountability and Empowering People

Now, as we all know, the word “Scottish” means nothing in those party names. We know that they take their orders from London. So whatever view is expressed in those papers is the settled view of the Westminster holding party. The commands are therefor issued directly from Westminster. If we think back to composition and remit of the Smith Commission, which was discussed in an earlier post, we can see that it is 60% Unionist – 40% Pro Independence and a consensus has to be reached (in a very short timeframe). Which means that whatever the Unionist parties agree to will be the consensus.

Having had a read of the document that means that Air Passenger Duty will be devolved. Ace, the only increase in tax raising powers will be the ability to vary the rate of tax on air passengers. There are various proposals for the devolution of spending money, but you can’t spend what you haven’t got. But we might be able to borrow a bit from the treasury, if they let us. Of course, the Barnett Formula will be adjusted to reflect the taxes raised in Scotland.

I’m looking forward to the Unionist crow fest tomorrow when the House of Commons will get to shove the referendum result down our throats again. That’ll be just dandy. Oh, don’t forget Gordie Broon’s wee debate on Thursday either. Then we will have to wait until the end of the month for the Smith Commission to report, but I wouldn’t expect anything of substance to come from it. So much for “Devo-Max” Gordie; you’ve been played for a fool and so have the people of Scotland.

 

Big Beas Gordie Broon

The Big Beast’s Wee Debate

One week from today the Big Beast o Labour, Gordie Broon, is holding his well publicised debate in the House of Commons which was part of the much vaunted “Vow”. Our lords and masters in Westminster have set aside valuable commons time in order to fulfil this part of their promise to the people of Scotland. The subject of the debate is the “UK Government’s relationship with Scotland,” and the debate is sponsored by none other than the Right Honourable Gordon Brown MP. The debate will be held at 6pm next Thursday and I for one will be watching it on catch up TV.

But, there had to be a but didn’t there,? But the debate will be held at the end of the commons business for the day. It is a so called “Adjournment Debate“, this is a type of debate which allows “backbench MPs to raise constituency issues or other matters relating to government administration or policy”. But, there’s that word again, there will be NO VOTE. Just a wee chat over the mace, that’s all. Here’s another but, the debate will last for a whole HALF HOUR! Yes, you read that right, 30 minutes to discuss Westminster’s relationship with Scotland then it’s off the club for a spot of dinner on expenses. I’ll bet most of our MPs will already be there before the debate begins.

So that’s all we’re worth to Westminster. 1.6 million Scottish people voted for Independence, countless more voted against after being told that there would be more powers, delivered to a timetable, and all we’re worth is half an hour. Gordie Broon could fill that time with endless waffle himself. So what chance do we have of getting any meaningful powers?

Lord Smith of Kelvin

The Smith Commission

The Smith Commission was set up in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum in an effort to fulfil the promises of the no campaign who had been panicked into making the promises of more power to the Scottish Parliament by the narrowing of the opinion polls. The commission has a very tight timeline to consider which powers should be devolved, courtesy of Gordie Broon’s ‘timetable’. The aim of the commission is to get representatives of all of the main political parties together and somehow get them to agree to a set of proposals by 31st October. Not long to consider the constitutional future of a country you may think, and I would have to agree with you especially since nothing has happened yet except for the naming of (almost) all of the representatives.

The representatives are:

SNP

John Swinney and Linda Fabiani

Greens

Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman

Scottish Labour

Iain Gray and (probably) Gregg McClymont

Scottish Conservative

Annabel Goldie and Adam Tomkins

Lib Dem

Michael Moore and Tavish Scott

The astute reader will have already spotted a problem with this set up. There are 4 pro independence representatives and 6 unionist representatives. So we have 40% of the participants representing the pro-independence movement and 60% of the participants representing the unionist side. Not exactly representative of the referendum outcome is it? The commission already smacks of bias to me, how about you?

Lord Smith of Kelvin

Lord Smith of Kelvin

Another potential problem is Baron Smith of Kelvin who’s bum creases the red leather cross party benches in the unelected House of Lords when he can be bothered to turn up. He has knelt before the queen twice, once for a plain knighthood and again for a knighthood into the order of the thistle. He’s about as establishment as you get. Robert Haldane Smith, to give him his mortal name, is also the chairman of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) who were fined £1.25 million in 2012 for sharp doorstep selling practices and another £10.5 million in 2013 for “prolonged and extensive” miss-selling. He is also a non executive director of Standard Bank Group (which was fined more than £6 million for breaching money laundering regulations in 2014). So as we can see he has vested interests in the energy sector and financial services. He is attributed with no political party affiliation but he owes his loyalty to the queen who “purred” when she heard the result of the referendum. But lets be kind to him and call him neutral, until we learn otherwise,

The commission’s terms of reference are, “to convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. This process will be informed by a Command Paper, to be published by 31 October and will result in the publication of draft clauses by 25 January. The recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers, strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom.”

The commission is welcoming proposals from everyone, for details of how you can submit your ideas click here.

I, for one, hope that something meaningful comes from this commission. We shall have to wait and see. However it is then up to Westminster to legislate and GIVE us those powers, and with a general election just round the corner, I can’t help but feel that the issue is going to be kicked into the long grass. When it finally resurfaces it will end up being watered down so that we end up with a wee sweetie to sook on.

Some of things that I would like to see are the devolution of income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, energy policy, welfare, pensions, land policy, air passenger duty, fuel duty, alcohol duty and last but not least the constitution because as things stand what Westminster gives they can also take away. Will we get to see any of these things? I doubt it because I don’t trust the Westminster establishment. But I’ll try anyway. Maybe you should have a wee think and come up with your own ideas, don’t forget the deadline of 31st October to get them in.

Post referendum blues

I’ve had a troubling weekend. The referendum result came as a body blow, our dreams had been crushed. On Friday I could hardly function, friends felt the same way and we consoled one another. The feeling was that it was all over. But, as the weekend progressed, those hopeless feelings gradually changed to anger. Then those feelings changed to a determination to not give up. I was reminded of the story of Robert the Bruce, hunkered down in a cave, watching a spider weave its web. He didn’t give up, so why should we?

It is now apparent that “The Vow” was no more than an empty promise. It has become a political football for the Westminster unionist parties. The votes had hardly been counted and the prime minister was standing outside 10 Downing Street moving the goal posts in a move designed to sink the Labour party, and tying the extra powers that were promised to more devolution in the rest of UK. The timetable that was promised by the has been Gordon Brown is now in tatters.

For Labour’s part they object to a resolution to the so called “West Lothian Question” since they have a large proportion of Scottish MPs sitting in the house of commons which could mean that Labour could form a UK government but have a minority when it comes to deciding English matters. These are interesting times and we’ll have to wait to see how things evolve.

One of the most striking aspects of the referendum campaign was the forces of the establishment which were pitched against us. Normally the establishment keeps to the shadows, preferring to pull the strings in the background. But they all came out of the shadows to fight the unionist corner. So now we know who they are. We had the entire mainstream media relentlessly pushing the No case, which they are entitled to do, with the honorable  exceptions of the Sunday Herald and the Shetland News.

We also had large corporations such as BP and Shell, we had supermarkets such as Waitrose and M&S, we had banks such as RBS and Clydesdale, there were many others who piched there tuppence worth into the debate too. These companies don’t even have a vote but they still felt the need to increase the fear factor in pursuit of the unionist cause. They were probably coerced into issuing statements at the behest of the Prime Minister. Readers may wish to research which companies felt the need to act in this manner and consider whether they wish to continue contributing to the fat profits that they make in Scotland. A Facebook page has been set up which will keep the reader informed: https://www.facebook.com/ScotlandsNOcompanies

But it is the BBC which has drawn the most ire, they have behaved in the most despicable way. They threw all pretence at impartiality away and relentlessly plugged the no side’s message. Why should we pay for that? There is now a movement to stop paying for the TV Licence. This can be done legally, but you should be aware of the conditions under which you can still view your televisions and stay within the law. This site does NOT condone illegal activity. Further information on ridding yourself of the TV Licence can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/activeresistancetothetvlicence?fref=ts.

One of the main reasons cited for the referendum result is the so called “grey vote”. It is claimed that they were afraid that their pensions would be cut post independence, it is also claimed that Better Together, among others, phoned pensioners up telling them these lies. Maybe so, but my mother voted No and she received no phone calls.

My mother is a bit of technophobe, she has a mobile phone but can’t use all of it’s functions. She doesn’t have an internet connection so she gets most of her information from the Daily Heil, sorry Daily Mail. I looked at this rag last Friday and I was totally dismayed by the amount of hatred, lies and scaremongering which covered most of the organ. Page after page of anti-independence diatribe. Page after page of demonisation of the SNP and Alex Salmond in particular. If this is what my mother was reading then it’s no wonder that she voted No. So I don’t think that it’s right to blame the pensioners for the result. They just didn’t have access to the information other than the mainstream media. So I have made a vow of my own; I’m going to get my mother connected to the internet and I am going to show her how to use it so that she can start making more informed decisions. At least that’s a practical step that I can take right now while we wait for the dust to settle.